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My Quiet Relationship with Dad

The Cochlear Implant Online Web site told the story of a high schooler who had to get reimplanted and in the process received an upgrade. Rachel’s younger sister, Jessica, is also deaf and has an implant.
The Web site discussed cochlear implants, its history, and a girl’s story in receiving an implant. On one of the pages, I was surprised to read the following.
“Many of my teachers had a fear of having a hearing impaired student in the classroom in the beginning of the school year or semester, and many times they didn’t know how to accommodate me as a hearing impaired student in the beginning.”
I never thought about this in all those years in school. I never got the impression that a teacher feared dealing with me. Every year on the first day of school, I met with the teacher privately to let her know that I was hearing impaired and read lips.
I sat in the front row or wherever was the best place to see the teacher. Of course, I hated it. I wanted to be in the back with the other cool kids. Even as an adult, the front row phenomenon bugged me as my co-workers or friends rarely sat in the front row. It amazed and disappointed me that adult life was a lot like high school.
Many years after I had a certain 8th grade teacher, I learned something about my dad. Whenever he met my teachers at open house, he would tell them of my hearing loss and that I lip read. He also told them other than ensuring I sat in the front, not to treat me any differently.
Many years after I had a specific 8th grade teacher with whom I stayed in touch, she told me something about my dad. Whenever he met my teachers at open house, he would tell them about my hearing loss and that I lip read. He also told them — that other than to make sure I sat in the front — not to treat me any differently than they treated the other students.
Wow. That’s something I expected from my mom. Of course, Dad cared about my education and that I led a normal life, but he usually let Mom do the talking. Dad had a quiet influence on my life. He made a big impact, but with little attention.
He and I never talked much. It wasn’t for lack of trying. While I was growing up, he attended many of my sports games and even coached. He practiced with me and took me to Texas Rangers baseball games. When I cut back on sports, we didn’t interact as much.
On that Monday, I returned to the hospital within a week after the implant because I had severe vertigo and dehydration. Living an hour away, Dad drove with Mom to see me. I was surprised because it wasn’t as if I was seriously ill. He usually let Mom update him.
Mom was always there when we needed her. Her car has logged a lot of miles driving 60 miles to Plano from Fort Worth and added more miles on the trip back. So it wasn’t a shocker that she came to the hospital. On the car ride home from the hospital, I thanked Dad for coming and told him it meant a lot to me.
Later, I found out from Mom that she asked Dad if he wanted to go to the hook up (the first time cochlear plant gets turned on). He said he didn’t want to go because he knew everything would be fine. He explained that when I was in the hospital, he wanted to see me for himself because he was worried about me.
Though Dad and I may not exchange a lot of words, we speak volumes through our actions. When I was little, I could count on Dad to make sure my hearing aid was in working order and had fresh batteries. Thanks, Dad.