Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day, 2006

I had an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to surprise my mom at a ladies luncheon on Saturday. Unbeknownst to her, I had submitted a tribute about her which was chosen to be one of three to be presented after the meal and before the keynote speaker. I had also submitted a set of pictures and had gone to the church's sound booth for a recording session prior to the event so that it would be done as an audio-visual on full screen for the 600 attendees to see and hear. The look on Mom's face will be forever etched in my memory! This is what I said:

"A Tribute to my Mother"

If this tribute is read aloud at the "HospitaliTea", my mom will not hear it. She will be seated beside me with both hearing aids tuned to full power and with her FM system adjusted to its maximum capacity, but to no avail. She will not be surprised or be overcome with frustration or self-pity. She realized before she signed up as a table hostess that the acoustics in this large room and the many competing voices around her would render her state-of-the-art hearing aids useless for comprehending the cheerful chit-chat of her invited guests and for enjoying the inspirational speakers.

For decades I’ve watched my mom cope with her progressive hearing loss with incredible grace and resilience. I’ve marveled at the tremendous effort she expends in an attempt to stay connected with people. I’ve observed her affirming nods and inviting smiles after greeting and initiating a conversation with an acquaintance or a newcomer, knowing full well that she was not getting most of what was being shared. I’ve been awed by her ability to make each one feel welcomed and engaged, despite the fact that she’s often virtually clueless as to the content of the dialogue.

Why doesn’t she just stay home instead of struggling through all the unsuccessful social encounters? Why not withdraw from social obligations, from volunteer work at the church’s Resource Center, from inviting people to the house for a home-cooked meal and an evening of fellowship? How is it that she does not lose heart? I’ve seen that momentary flash of discouragement in her eyes after a long-distance phone call from my brother and his family, yet she gives a happy hello the next time they call and asks for the umpteenth time, “What’d they say?”, after Dad hangs up the phone.

You see, I know what it’s like to live in a world of missed conversations and agonizing isolation amidst a crowd. I have felt that hot flush of embarrassment when I’ve realize that I’ve misunderstood once again or have said something inappropriate. I’ve known the deep heartache that engulfs you when you can no longer recognize a once beloved and familiar hymn. I, too, have made the painful journey from normal hearing to severe hearing loss. In my case, however, the pilgrimage “progressed” to total deafness.

Yet, I thank my gracious and loving heavenly Father for giving me a courageous mom who has shown me how to weather the storm and to trust His precious promises. God knew before I was ever conceived that I would need such a wonderful role model. Jeremiah 29:11 says, " For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." He also knew that the miracle of a cochlear implant would restore my hearing and allow me the privilege of being Mom’s “ears” again whenever there’s an opportunity. It is truly a divine blessing to sit beside her today and to help her “stay connected” to God’s people.