Silence Is Rusty #6


This is no normal Wednesday Hump Day, but my personal Hump Day in my Twelve Days of Silence. To mark the day, a mostly lighter look at the silent treatment.

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To aid healing, I am to drink a lot of water, half of my body weight in ounces every day. I am a large person so that means, well, it means I am filling my container often.  And emptying it just as often. At night, I am tickled when I get four straight hours before “the call” can no longer be ignored.

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The second day, Julie fell into the habit of mimicking me; not making fun of me, but doing as I was. I had made hand motions which she did not comprehend. Instead of asking me what I meant, she replied with hand motions. I had to grab my pad and ask her to use words. Even more, I had found that I really needed to hear her voice. She replied, “This is new for me, too.” And so it has affected both of us.

On Sunday, my nine-year-old grandson really struggled with talking to me. At first, he mouthed words to me. (I’m not supposed to mouth words, but fall into it a bit.) I wrote him a note asking him to please speak normally to me. The rest of the afternoon, each time he spoke he still couldn’t muster anything much more than a whisper—something I never thought I’d hear from him!

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I went to the grocery store yesterday. One of my favorite gals was working the cash register. She also struggled to speak up to me, with most of her words in the hushed tones of the hospital room of a very ill person.

I went prepared. On the reverse of my “I can’t talk. I had throat surgery” note, I wrote a couple of sentences of explanation. They paid off as the three folks to whom I showed the note all wanted to know a few details.

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When one cannot talk, many opportunities get lost. Those little quips one makes during a movie get lost on the cutting room floor. The odd or interesting statistics that come to mind while watching a football game remain on the sidelines.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one comments on it, did it really happen?

By the time I can grab my pad and write my quip or stat or fact, and include enough info to provide context so that it would make sense, the moment is gone.

So many Eilerisms are being lost.  I know, I know.  It’s hard on you, too.

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In everyday life, we make so much small talk, so many passing comments, that saying nothing at all in these moments feels like when two people are angry at each other, snubbing each other, with no desire to talk to each other. It can be disconcerting when Julie and I are near each other, say working in the kitchen.

If we make eye contact, I smile at her so that she knows I’m in here. Even better is to touch each other. Before we got married, I told her how important to me are little touches, how they help me feel connected and loved. From day one of our marriage, we have been touchers. My favorite place is her . . . um, well, let’s just say that she looks very tempting . . . er, I mean great in a pair of jeans.

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On Saturday, it got up to 66 degrees in Indianapolis, shattering the January 20 all time high by five degrees. Julie and I sat on our front porch, basking in the sun. Our neighbor was going by with her dogs and walked up for a chat. After Julie explained about me, the two of them talked. I got the rare reference or eye contact, pretty much what I thought would happen. I felt like I was listening in on a conversation, not a part of one.

If I could never speak again, I can only begin to fathom how much it would impact my life. How separated from the world I would feel.

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So, solve the problem!  Just use hand motions, right? It’s as simple as that. Replace your words with gestures. Trouble resolved.

A friend correctly noted that, unless you agree beforehand on what hand signals mean, they do not work. I’ll say.

Julie’s coworker suggested that she answer my every hand signal with, “What’s that, hon? You want me to make you some toast?” Ugh.

After nearly a week, still only the most rudimentary hand motions are effective. I can indicate when supper is ready by doing the spoon to mouth action. I can nod my head for yes and shake it for no. That’s about it.

I’m practicing a very special motion to try on Julie. My goal is to get her to ask, “What’s that, girl? Timmy fell into the well?”

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I took a phone call yesterday. Oh yes I did.

I was texting with a friend. She wanted to share something with me that was too much to type. So, I suggested a hand signal (!) that I would use for my end of the call. I would click my fingers.

Twice as she talked I clicked to indicate that I was liking what I was hearing. To end the call, I literally clicked off. To give my feedback, I texted her.

I am pleased that I was able to disprove the old saying. You CAN teach an old dog new clicks.


5 thoughts on “Silence Is Rusty #6

  1. You could use the standard railroad hand signal for, “Time to eat.” Make two fists with thumbs pointing out, raise to mouth level and turn the thumbs to the direction of the mouth. Open mouth and move arms back and forth rapidly so that the thumbs point at the open mouth.


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