The memories that I retain of my father now he has died are not necessarily the ones I would choose. Many of the strongest memories are the ones where I saw him suffer the humiliations and agonies of aging whilst I looked on with horror and helplessness.
One such memory was visiting my parent’s house when dad was actually still relatively well physically, although psychologically he was suffering. I asked my mum where dad was and she dismissively said he was messing around with his hearing aid, and had been upstairs for hours. My dad was completely deafened in one ear during the war and had very poor hearing in the other ear – he didn’t lip read or sign and so his hearing aid was the only thing that prevented him being completely isolated.
I went upstairs with my heart in my mouth and found my dad in a dreadful state. Littered all over the bed were tens of hearing aid batteries and my dad looked at me with a look of unadulterated desperation.
“I can’t make my hearing aid work and your mum won’t help me.”
He looked like a child, somehow.
“Let me have a look, dad.”
I took his hearing aid and it was obvious what was wrong with it. It took me a second to fix it and I returned it to him.
He took it with that look when people are afraid to hope and then when he found it worked he thanked me profusely, as if I had just saved his life. It was all I could do not to cry.
Apparently, 40% of hearing aids remain in people’s drawers because they stop working and need fixing. They need simple things doing to them like having the batteries changed or the tubes drained.
If you would like to help people with their hearing aids then we are starting a project called “Here Hear” – read more about what the Diocese of Guildford is up to here – http://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/diocesan-life/deaf-inclusion/ and let me know if it is something you’d like to be involved in.
I obviously care deeply about this project!