This weekend I flew on a last-minute trip to Ohio to visit my 98-year-old great aunt. She is a few weeks from turning 99, but I’m not confident she will make it to 99. Auntie’s health is fading. And that was the reason for my trip.
Sunday, as I sat in the hospital room listening to the conversation, and the yelling that had to happen so she could hear us, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories she could share.
I wondered what things she might tell us about my Mamu, my great-grandmother whom I was fortunate enough to know until her death in 1994, who is her mom. I wonder what Auntie could tell us about her role as a mom as it has changed through the years, what she learned caring for her husband until his death at a relatively young age. I wonder what she could share in the quiet moments about living as a widow, about living beyond the death of her own son, about rejoicing in the births of grandchildren and the day to day changes she has seen as well as the bigger, more pronounced ones.
As I sat there, I longed for quiet conversation, for reflection, but there wasn’t any.
I hate that her hearing has faded and everyone has to yell so she can hear us. So much is lost. So many sweet moments and wise conversations are stolen.
I didn’t intend to write a rant advocating hearing aids, but I think this has turned into one.
My grandmother, Auntie’s sister, is 10 years younger and now her hearing is fading. I hate that I have to almost yell for her to hear me. I don’t want her final days to be days of yelling so she can hear. I want sweet moments of talking, listening, learning, loving and laughing. She has great stories to share and I want to ask about them in sweet, quieter moments, not in yells.
But I guess a hearing aid decision has to come from her, not from me.
Aside from the yelling to communicate, and the fact Auntie’s time is likely coming to an end, the time in Ohio was relaxing and a gift. My mom and grandmother were there and a cousin, his wife and daughter also joined us. It was great to connect, visit and just talk for a few hours each day of my very quick trip.
And it was wonderful to return home last night to hugs and kisses from my own children and husband.