Do You Hear What I Hear

Posted on January 3, 2018 under Storytelling with one comment

Hear! Hear!

( With the impending storm, thought I’d get this to you now. Don’t want you suffering withdrawal if the power is out in the morning which seems likely ).

Fred (*) grew up in the Gaspe, the 15th. of 15 children. With no running water or electricity, life was not easy. Most of his male siblings died in infancy and one died in the war making Fred the only boy in a house full of females. One might suggest that he was a bit spoiled by his sisters. He had some serious health issues in his youth requiring lengthy periods of hospitalization. If possible, his sisters doted on him more than before.

The family eventually moved to Montreal to improve educational opportunities… especially for Fred, the one who would carry the family name into the future.

Fred worked in the shipbuilding industry as a pipefitter on the waterfront in Montreal. It was a noisy and dangerous place to work resulting in a number of injuries and gradual hearing impairment. Everyone, except Fred, recognized the problem. Over time, family members had to start talking louder to be heard. The volume level for the radio and television were ratcheted up when Fred was listening. So loud was Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, that some claimed you could hear the broadcast clearly in the next time zone.

Fred continued to refuse to acknowledge that he had a hearing problem. Oddly enough, he seemed to have a knack for hearing some things, especially when the family was trying to keep something from him.

He remarried after the death of his first wife and she made it clear from the beginning that she wasn’t going to tolerate all the loud noises and shouting. She insisted that Fred get his hearing checked and if necessary, get hearing aids. Fred’s “selective” hearing was in full force when this subject came up. He pretended not to hear.

In 1978, unbeknownst to his wife and family, Fred took a trip to the Hudson Bay store and went to a hearing clinic on the second floor. He was tested and not surprisingly, discovered that he would need to wear hearing devices. He came home with his “Bay bag”, dropped it on the kitchen table and said, “There. I hope you’re satisfied.” And that was the last time anyone saw the hearing aids. He never put them in once.

Fred passed away in 1992 and his daughter Susan (*) went to his house to collect a suit for the wakes. Yes, there were to be two wakes held: one in Montreal and the other on home soil in the Gaspe. She grabbed a suit from his closet along with a tie and then went to the dresser to get socks and undergarments. While rifling through a stack of underwear, she came upon a Hudson’s Bay bag which had been sitting there for 14 years. The hearing aids were still in the original packaging.

Before the viewing at the funeral home in Montreal, Susan placed Fred’s Masonic apron and a copy of the Bible inside the coffin to carry Fred along his journey. The hearing aids were in her purse and she was sorely tempted to put them in the coffin, or indeed in his ears. But superstition got the better of Susan and she decided not to tempt fate. In her purse they remained.

Until she got to the wake in the Gaspe.

At the conclusion of the wake and prior to the funeral service, she removed the hearing aids from her purse and placed one by each ear just before they closed the lid of the coffin.

One can only imagine that when Fred reached the pearly gates, he wouldn’t have had to yell at the angels. He will forever be able to hear their soft voices… with his never before worn hearing aids from the Bay.

*Names have been changed.

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