Saturday, August 28, 2010

The sounds of NYC

I lived in NYC on the upper east side many years ago. I had a tiny apartment with a terrace (gasp) and the entire thing was 500 square feet. It was charming and cozy. Tiny, tiny, tiny. I did not turn on the stove the entire time I lived there. My refrigerator would hold a carton of milk and leftovers from carry out.

Every day I would walk to my office at Clairol/Bristol Meyers at 345 Park Avenue. I lived at 60th and 3rd and my office was at 50th and Park. I loved those walks. So much to see...but the noise! At the time, NYC did not have an ordinance against honking. HONK! The noise was so annoying. HONK! Every time the traffic slowed, the cars would lay on their horns. HONK!

My favorite time of day was Sunday morning at 7am. The city that doesn't sleep, sleeps in on Sunday morning. Yes, a well kept secret, NYC is quiet on Sunday morning. I would pull on a jacket and make my way to the corner to buy the Times. I remember being able to hear the sounds of the businesses sliding open the iron bars that protected their stores. I loved to hear the different languages that the business owners would speak as they greeted their neighbors at the start of the day. I could hear my heels click on the pavement. The swish of the air as it came up from the sidewalk grates. So ordinary, but true New York sounds.

For me, it was a relief. After a week of walking through so much HONKing, the solitude was wonderful...and memorable. When we take the time to notice sounds, we not only hear the sounds, but we seal the memory of a time and place in our memory vault.

My life, so different now. I spend Sunday mornings reading the Chicago Tribune with my husband and the cup of coffee comes out of the carafe in my kitchen (where I do use the stove often). But, I can look back on those days and remember those details because I treasured the rare quiet of an ordinary morning in NYC.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On vacation, we bought my father-in-law a laptop. Our goal was to get him hooked up with Facebook. He spends many hours alone, caring for my mother-in-law who is now bedridden. Long days pass and he is there by her side. We are concerned, because he is withdrawing, sort of pulling away from life.

Our goal was to teach him about Facebook. For me, Facebook has been fantastic. I can't have detailed phone conversations any longer, so a visit to my FB page brings me up to speed with so many hearing required! The sense of connection to my world, my family, my friends, it brings me such joy. I know it can be a "huge waste of time" as Betty White noted, but it is the idle conversations I miss so much. And I know that my Dad-in-law, Ed, does, too.

We got his page up and running, thanks to our in house FB expert, daughter Gracie. Now, he has "friend requests" pouring in. As he sits in the house by himself, he really isn't alone anymore. When we are far away, I have a way of reaching him, even if it is just a few lines. I can tell him that I adore him, that I miss him.

His profile picture has a big smile, that sort of said it all. It really is remarkable, this thing called Facebook. Waste of time? Sure, but for Ed, it will be a lifeline. Just like that day, many years ago, holding hands with granddaughter Gracie...we all need to be in touch, we need to have a sense of connection to people that love us. So, thank you Facebook.... I think you are a great use of time!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I would like to tell you about Mr. and Mrs. Hallberg. Even though I am an adult, with a family of my own, they will always be Mr. and Mrs. I wish there was a better title that would give them more importance.

I love the Hallberg family so much. But today, in this post, it is all about Mr. Hallberg.

Where do I start? Perhaps this will explain my relationship the most. He sat next to me the night we buried my Dad and made me feel safe. He was my father's best friend.

Through the years, I have sat at more family dinners with the Hallbergs than I can count. From the time I was a little girl, it was my second home. We didn't have relatives that lived near, the Hallbergs were our extended family.

Mr. Hallberg is blessed with a beautiful singing voice, a vibrant personality and a spirit that pulls all of us together. His conversation is so interesting, so dynamic. He has a laugh that booms and a smile that warms my heart.

In recent years, he was a bit more subdued. I should have known what was happening. But, I just accepted this change, I loved him no matter what. He wasn't participating in the conversation like he used to, still engaged and interested, but didn't say very much.

Recently, I went to visit the Hallbergs and much of the family was there, too. What a great time we were having as we all sat in the living room. Mr. Hallberg was sitting next to me and pointed to both ears. "Look what I have", he said. Inside his ears were two small hearing aids.

He went on to say "I can hear! I can hear conversations, I can hear the TV, the sounds outside. I was missing so much, I had no idea how much, until I could hear again." My Mr. Hallberg was back and it was all because he was no longer isolated by the lonely quiet that comes with the loss of hearing those you love.

If someone you love is fading a bit, don't blame it on age. Please encourage them to try hearing aids, seek help. Because life is not only about living, it is about listening.

Thanks to Granddaughter Lauren for the beautiful picture!