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(DOMINIC MCKENZIE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
(DOMINIC MCKENZIE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

What I’ve learned is the secret to a happy marriage Add to ...

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I have an abundance of old things and many of them are loved and important to me. I have the Bible my grandmother was given as a new bride, my mother’s wedding band and some old coins in an antique jewellery box.

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None of them are as loved as my dear old husband. I don’t tell him that nearly often enough. I don’t bother any more as I am sure he wouldn’t hear me anyway.

We have a great marriage and I think it all boils down to great miscommunication. If I didn’t hear him tell me he loves me it’s because my hearing is bad, not because he didn’t say it. I’m sticking with that theory and so is he.

Fortunately, there is a benefit to the hearing loss that comes with aging. We are a great source of amusement for each other and our kids. It’s not only that we can’t hear; it’s that we sometimes hear things that weren’t actually said.

Last Christmas I had an idea for gifts my husband and I would love. He was soaking in the hot tub in the yard so I headed out to have a conversation.

“You know, I hate scrubbing floors and you hate vacuuming, so let’s buy each other those little robot things that vacuum and scrub for Christmas. I researched and they have names, Scooba and Roomba.”

His face lit up and he said: “That’s a great idea! But I thought you didn’t like scuba diving.”

“Huh?” said I.

“Scuba diving,” he yelled, “I thought you didn’t like it.”

I reached down and flicked off the jets in the hot tub. “What do you think I said, Jim?”

“That we should go to Aruba and scuba dive for Christmas?”

I called my husband to dinner the other night and he replied, “I’m coming, you old witch.”

Naturally I was holding his soup bowl in a threatening manner when he arrived in the kitchen.

“What?” said he.

“Repeat what you just said to me.”

“I said, ‘I’m coming, just one more pitch.’ I was watching the ball game, couldn’t you hear it?”

“Hear it? The neighbours called and asked me to get you to hold the TV up to the window. Seeing as how they had to hear the game, they figured they might as well watch it, too.”

“Who called you? The Reyburns?”

“The neighbours,” I shrieked.

“What did they want?”

In an effort to improve my health and his, I’ve started walking with my husband. I chose the Huron Natural Area for our first venture out into the wilds. I attached the telephoto lens to my camera and off we went. I spotted a fawn in the forest, and I stopped and pointed the camera as I whispered, “See the fawn?”

“What? Did you say something?” he shouted, as the fawn, his parents and every living thing within a 40-kilometre radius jumped in fright then ran and hid.

“I don’t know what animals are like on the planet you come from,” I seethed, “but here on Earth they don’t like to be yelled at!”

“You’re trying to take a picture of an elephant?”

I don’t bother taking the camera along any more.

It’s probably also a good thing that I can’t always hear my kids, and they, of course, are amazing at not hearing me. Yesterday, for the hundredth time, I asked my youngest son to clean his room. I may have screamed the request.

His response: “Geez, Mom, a little cranky since you quit smoking?”

“No, Kevin, I’m not cranky because I quit smoking, I’m cranky because you left a dinner plate on the floor in there and the leftovers grew and grew and came to life and now it wants my car keys.”

Yesterday, I had to go to the doctor for my annual check-up. I tried as best I could to imagine I was on a beach somewhere, trying to get some sun on my knees and the tops of my feet. Due to the comfy stirrups I had to imagine the beach was covered in the shells of some vile crustaceans.

Now, I’m a big girl, nearly six feet tall and fluffy, so I was a little uncomfortable when the doctor came in and I saw he was just shy of five feet tall and weighed as much as my left thigh. He explained what he was going to do and that I should relax. I laid back and squinted at the ceiling light until I couldn’t see the water stains surrounding it.

The next thing I heard was a very muffled, “younemfrlax.” I looked up and didn’t see him. I surmised what terrible fate must have befallen him and panicked. Should I just get up, get dressed and get out of there, pretending I didn’t notice that my underwear appeared to be talking as I passed the nurse’s desk?

Suddenly, he reappeared right where I’d last seen him and instructed me again to relax. I did, and ordered my imagination to calm down, too.

As soon as I am done writing this, I am calling one of those hearing-aid places. I won’t wear them all the time, as that would suck some joy from my life, but it can’t hurt to hear what doctors and other outsiders are saying to me once in a while.

Sharon Gerger lives in Waterloo, Ont.

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