16: Our Best Laugh

16: Our Best Laugh

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Our Best Laugh

What the daughter does, the mother did.

~Jewish Proverb

I am the eldest of four daughters. When I turned sixty-five and became eligible for Medicare, the government employee who was registering me asked how I felt about this significant birthday. I told her that I loved my sixties and was very comfortable with this new milestone. I explained that the person who was having a difficult time was my mother. That her first-born had turned sixty-five was almost too much for her to believe.

My mother and I are twenty years apart. When I reached my seventieth birthday, my mother reached her ninetieth. My mom is still a vibrant, sharp and active woman in this new decade of her life. As for my new decade, I am grateful to have made it in good health, but the number itself is almost ridiculous to me. If pushed for a number, I would answer that I feel like I am in my fifties.

When I celebrated my seventy-first birthday, I made myself a promise. I had begun to notice that I was missing the audio in movies. I could not quite discern the words in the dialogue. I vowed to have my hearing tested, only sharing my plan with my husband.

I had watched my mother go through the process of getting hearing aids a few years earlier. She did not like wearing the devices. She insisted that she could hear perfectly without them. This was debatable.

I made an appointment and was tested. A week later I walked out of the hearing lab wearing hearing aids. I did not allow my new secret to in any way impede the bounce in my step as I walked down the street. People smiled at me and I smiled back. No one knew, I thought, that I was a woman who wore hearing aids. Symbolically, this was a reality that aged me. I would not allow it to make me feel older. What I had forgotten was that the bag I was swinging, filled with batteries and the contract I had signed, had the name of the hearing aids in bold red letters printed on both sides!

When I got home, I called my mother and shared my news.

“Mom, your seventy-one-year-old daughter and her ninety-one-year-old mother are on the phone at this moment talking about our hearing aids. Can you believe this?”

My mother and I started to laugh. We were laughing from our souls. We had shared so many intimate moments in our lifetime together, but nothing represented the passage of time to us like this reality. My mom’s ears had listened to me from the day I had learned how to speak. She was my confidante. She was my friend. And now, mother and daughter were speaking as peers, as two women who could not really comprehend that the other had reached this time and this need in her life.

The more we tried to talk about it, the harder we laughed. I had not remembered enjoying a laugh like this with my mom in a very long time. Although she had tried her hardest to age gracefully, being ninety offered many challenges. Hearing aids had been one of them. Our twenty-year age difference never seemed so unimportant. I was delighted that my new acquisition brought us shared laughter and established another life bond.

~Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

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