“Memories… Light the Corners of my Mind…”


Look into these soulful brown eyes, and one can believe she remembers those she loves very easily!

“Memorieeesssss… light the corners of my mmmmind…”

Your age will likely influence whether or not you started singing along, and finished the line, “Misty, water-colored Mmmmemorieeeessss… of the way we were….”

Dogs remember

I’m always amazed at what a dog can remember.  Not so much “tricks” and obedience commands, for in truth, they remember those types of skills as the result of an owner/trainer who consistently practices and hones those skills.  I “smack my face” in shock at times, as to what a dog can remember that is NOT the result of  training. (Yeah, yeah, I know!  You’d like to smack my face for me? Grin).

Chloe constantly amazes me at being able to remember a “dog” she hasn’t seen in a really long time, and going all a-wiggle at just a glimpse of her “buddy” across the parking lot.  She was “rushed” and received a bite from a white poodle once.  She still quivers in fear at the sight of one, and it she isn’t even seeing the SAME one. Chloe has a great memory!

Wednesday, I had to rush to the grocery store to pick up a few items to last my family through the week.  I carried one of those baskets, instead of choosing a cart. I’m convinced that I need to remember to ALWAYS reach for a cart now, no matter how few items I may need.  The cart actually helps me balance some, and it also allows me to block Chloe from “oh I gotta pet you/cuz I can’t read” hands.  (Honestly, you’d think her vest said “PET ME PLEASE!”)

I dropped a coupon and was in the middle of asking Chloe to retrieve it for me, when she heard something and dropped the coupon mid-“retrieve”.  Actually it was kind of comical, because when she dropped the coupon her mouth still hung ajar!  I’ve never seen my “hound dog” surprised by what she’d heard before! I could tell right away she was hearing something, as she became very still, and her head cocked to the side.  Her ears perked up and she looked in the direction of the next aisle.

I was able to get her to focus and retrieve the coupon (with a little EFFORT), and we continued down the aisle.  She was literally “a-tremble” with excitement, and kept looking at the aisle next to us with her ears all perked up. I was kicking myself for not having a cart, but bravely rounded the corner and headed into the next aisle. I saw some ladies rounding the corner of the aisle next to us. Fortunately, they were going in the opposite direction so we were now going to have an aisle between us.  UNFORTUNATELY, Chloe didn’t like that.  She barked a high-pitch yelp/bark.  I shushed her immediately, and scolded her quietly as wouldn’t you know the end of the aisle was also nearest the cash registers and front-end employees?

I put her in “heel” and headed down the next aisle.  She continued to “hop/walk”, listening intently, and still all “a-tremble“.  I tried to listen to make sure that as we rounded the end of the aisle, those ladies were not doing so as well.  Being that I’m not a lucky person by chance, I of course came to the end of the aisle at the same time they did!  Thankfully, this time I was BETWEEN the ladies and Chloe, but she ducked her head and looked between my knees at the ladies.

One of them noticed her peeking between my kneecaps, and said, “Oh look at the beautiful dog! Look how wonderful she is!” Something about the voice made me start “thinking quickly”, but I couldn’t put it together quite yet “why”.

One of the ladies she was with said, “Oh my! She’s beautiful!  What does she do?”  She stepped closer to read her vest.  The closer she got to me, the clearer her voice became.  Chloe was attempting to sit in a nice heel position, but was just trembling from head to toe.  The lady said, “Oh she’s crying!”

Darn.  I can’t hear Chloe whimper sometimes, so I looked down and said, “Chloe… shussh!  Quiet!”  I turned to the lady standing there and said, “I’m sorry she’s not normally this way. She seems very excited to see you.”

The ladies moved closer and continued to talk to me (as they realized talking to Chloe was making her no longer SIT).  Right as one lady was explaining how thrilled she was that dogs could help a deaf person – it hit me.  I was so startled by my epiphany, I dropped my basket… on my foot! (At least it wasn’t Chloe’s!) Thankfully, I only had some boxed items in it so it wasn’t very heavy. The ladies were turning away to go, and I in a bold and desperate move, reached out and motioned to them to stop.

“Excuse me.  I love your accent, and I think my dog actually recognizes it from a trainer she had when she was young.  Can I ask where you are from?”

Although she had lived here for over a year, she and one of the ladies with her were from Vaspy, Sweden. (I’m sure I’ve spelled that wrong, but I’m spelling it like it sounded and HEY!  She had a Swedish accent so I was having trouble!).

They walked away from us to finish shopping and I stood rooted to the spot.  I think perhaps my mouth was hung ajar like Chloe’s had been after the coupon retrieve.  One of Chloe’s earlier trainers had a Scandinavian accent, although I do not know where she originally “hailed” from.  Chloe had HEARD these ladies voices, recognized the ACCENT, and thought Jolanthe was in the next aisle!

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been QUITE that surprised by the turn of events.  After all, Chloe can hear Pat’s voice (her most recent trainer) from the next room and become really excited. Heaven help us if we ever happen upon Pat in a store now…

My Ears Want to Remember

My cochlear implant is a wonderful miracle really!  I never thought I’d be hearing voices as well as I do “this side of Heaven”.  But hearing through the miracle of bionics is not hearing PERFECTLY.

Sometimes I hear things and know “something isn’t right”, but am unable to put my finger on the “what”. Take a cat’s purr for example.  If I hold one of our cats right up next to my implant I can “hear” the cat purr.  They aren’t very thrilled to be dangling from my hands and smushed up against my implant, but they will continue to purr – believe it or not!  I think part of it is that I can feel the vibration of the cat’s purr, and this aids in “conjuring up memories” of a cat’s motor.  But when I hear one of our cat’s purr, it’s a little “off”… something isn’t quite “right”.  I have a memory of a cat’s purr, but what I’m hearing is just a little bit “mechanical” compared to what I remember.  My daughter tells me all our cat’s purr differently. I suppose I’ve had a hearing loss long enough to not really quite understand how a cat’s purr can sound different.  Even more remarkable to me, is knowing my daughter claims she can tell the difference!  I just can’t quite put my brain around the fact that someone can hear THAT well!

I’m coming up on my four-year anniversary of “hearing again”.  I still hear things “for the first time” since activation. For example, this past Christmas I was shopping with my husband at Home Depot.  Around the base of one of the Christmas trees, a little miniature train chug-chugged along.  I stood there in front of God and shoppers and wept.  I could remember the sound of my older brother’s electric train set and “hearing it again”, was emotional!

I’ve spent the past summers “remembering” the sound of lawn mowers, and leaf blowers.  I’ve experienced autumns remembering how a rake sounds pulling leaves into a pile.  If it’s quiet, and the noise isn’t distorted by other background noises, I hear… and REMEMBER.

Something that makes me sad – if I let it – is not having a memory of how my kids sounded when they were little.  We’ve a few old VHS tapes, but hearing the tapes triggers no memories for me as I HAVE NONE.  I can usually cheer myself up pretty quickly, in simply recognizing the fact that I have amazing conversations with my young adult children NOW. (Reading their lips, “More juice please” was likely more endearing than “Can I have the car keys” though…)

May all of us take the time to REMEMBER.  Don’t waste energy remembering negative things (unless they taught you something).  Remember good times, good friends, and heck yeah!  GREAT DOGS!

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

5 thoughts on ““Memories… Light the Corners of my Mind…”

  1. Denise,

    I have always known that Chloe is a very smart
    girl! Wow, Jolanthe hasn’t been around for a while.
    And she still picked up on the accent….Good girl
    Chloe! And it would be funny to meet Pat
    in a store!

    Good job to both of you! See you at Fidos…

    Jane Harford

  2. It always amazes me that our dogs have such long term memories. Something that one may never think about it until after the fact. I wasn’t the first to have my dog which he was a pet before I gotten him. However he remembers the elderly husband and wife. They don’t live here anymore but a similar build and my dog gets so excited.

  3. What a beautiful set of eyes Chloe has! (Kenai wanted to send her doggie treats and bones for Valentines Day…grin). She’s such a good girl.

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