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Deafening

My newest reading book is Deafening by Frances Itani. Wow.

The main character, Grania, becomes deaf due to Scarlet Fever. Frances gets it right. From the introduction and dedication, I gather Frances' grandmother was deaf and the two of them were close, like Grania and her grandmother. The misheard words that make up a new language or don't sound right to others and the dreamy reflectiveness are all spot on. For instance, Grania calls her Grandpa Jack "Bompa Jack". My living grandfather was "Ben-ha" because that's what I heard when my parents talked about Grandpa. Buttons were "buddins" because I didn't understand how t worked. Every once in a while when I'm tired I'll slip up and not enunciate my t's. Some low or soft voices with words spoken fast will mess me up. Yesterday someone said "Lake Erie Speedway" to me at work and all I heard was mumble-mumble-speedwa and I deduced incorrectly that speedwagon was the word. :)

My parents didn't realize I was deaf until I was 5 and ready to enter school. The doctors put tubes in my nose and my ears. They fell out on their own over time except for the tube in my right ear. That one was removed during a doctors visit. Each year during my physical, my family doctor comments on the scarring of my right ear drum. My little cousin, Brian, had the same problem and because of me, his parents figured it out earlier. Later they found out he is dyslexic.

When I was thirteen I took swim lessons and they were hard. Because of my tubes I wasn't allowed to get my ears wet. My dad thought it was important that everyone know how to swim and how to shoot a gun. I still had one tube left in my ear and I was told I had to use silly putty to protect my ears from the water. I was the oldest kid in my class and I wasn't able to really keep up with the younger kids. They were swift like they'd been born with fins. That was the summer my brother shot himself and I've never touched a gun.

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