Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Sight and Sound
Reading a post on the part that music plays in his life, by The Vernacular Vicar rang many bells with me today.
For many years (until I was in my 30's, I ate drank slept and breathed music. To such an extent that it almost excluded everything else.
Had anyone at that time said "you are going deaf, and soon will never hear music again", I'd have wanted to die.
My mother, who also loved music, was just as passionate about books. She read voraciously, anything which could be termed literature, and was never without a book in one hand, whatever the other might be doing.
In her late seventies her sight began to fail. As she did with most personal ailments, she ignored it as long as she could and by the time we (the family), and everyone else who knew, had prevailed upon her to see a specialist it was too late.
Gradually her sight became poorer and poorer, at first needing stronger and stronger spectacles, then using a magnifying glass and any other aid available, and finally declared officially 'blind', she never stopped trying to read.
My father devised endless exercises for her during this time, making postcard-size letters black on white background and getting her to read them, until eventually even that became an impossibility.
She had for many years, some peripheral vision, odd, unreliable and prone to materialising at quite unexpected times. "Oh, she would say, "that's a lovely colour, it always did suit you", and we would look at each other amazed. That, however, finally vanished too and she was left able only to distinguish shapes and light and dark.
My late sister-in law introduced her to the world of "talking books", and at first reluctant and inept with the fiddly mechanism, she suddenly took to them like a duck to water and was never without a 'book'.
As her hearing began to fade too, the older she became, she started to use hearing aids, of increasing strength much as she had with her 'spec's'.
She was a small frail but unbelievably courageous woman, who never allowed anything to defeat her. Neither arthritis, leaking heart valve (pace-maker assisted), broken hip (pinned ate the age of 102,) right to the end of her life a year later.
When my father died five years before she did, she went to live, first with one, then with another of my brothers and it was only then, that after almost 70 years of marriage, she finally lost some of her enthusiasm for life.
Never a noisy or boisterous character, nor overtly joyous, she nevertheless, had a quiet tranquil and contented nature in even the most trying and distressing times.
I inherited the love of music and literature from both parents, but sadly, nothing of my mother's accepting and stoic attitude to life.
The photograph of her above, was taken a few days after my father's death, when she retreated into her "talking books" as a means of escaping the huge change in her life.
Sight and hearing are so very precious and those of us lucky enough to have them should guard them like the jewels they are.