My Dad is 72 years old and has suffered hearing loss for more than a decade, and maybe closing in on two. He had had always had that “selective hearing” but he also had something called Meniere’s Syndrome. Meniere’s consists of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and inner ear pressure. He had surgery years ago to try to mitigate the symptoms, but it actually resulted in the total lost of hearing in his right ear. He has worn a hearing aide in his left ear for a while now, but it has never given him quite the boost to hear anywhere close to normally.
This has taken a toll on my Dad. He won’t admit it, I don’t think, but I can see the disappointed look in his eyes when he sees the whole family laughing at something that he has no clue about because he couldn’t hear the conversation. I can hear his frustration when he is unable to carry on a telephone conversation with any type of success and his heartbreak is palpable when he struggles to understand what his grandkids are saying when they visit.
So, today, after finally qualifying as a good candidate, my Dad is receiving a cochlear implant. I still don’t understand all of the surgical details or how it will actually work once it is “turned on,” but I am grateful and excited for him to get this new opportunity to restore at least some of his hearing.
I have entered the phase of life where I have begun to swap care-giving roles with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, my parents aren’t living with me and I am no where near becoming a nurse-maid. They are still young enough to get by just fine without my help both physically and economically, but feelings have begun to sprout in me more in the parental role towards them instead of coming from them. Not sure if it’s their age or mine, but I am definitely growing up.
The old triggers of feeling like I’m sixteen again and have done something to get grounded for or receive the “I’m disappointed in you” speech are practically gone. So too, are the urges to call “mommy and daddy” when I’m in trouble or sick. I haven’t asked for money in nearly twenty years and major decisions are made with my spouse, not my parents.
Now I’m the Mom my kids look to for love, care and guidance. I pray every day that I provide more than just the grownup who fixes them the food that they almost always gripe about having to eat or who orders them to clean their rooms or who force feeds them the medicine when they are sick. I know in many ways I am a pretty cool Mom who lets our daughter dress however she chooses (for now, while she is still extremely modest) and who tries to explain to our son that it is okay to have feelings even ones of anger towards me.
It is not easy and there are many challenges we face and will come across, I’m sure, over the years – both with our kids and my parents.
Hopefully, I’ll continue to be up for the ride.