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Fifty Years that Can’t Be Ignored

I’m 50 years old. The milestone came and went this week without fanfare.

Here’s how:

It’s 6:33 AM on my 50th Birthday. The rain is steady. The world is soaked. I think about the kids: Hope they don’t get drenched. Do teenage girls even use umbrellas?  Musings of a clueless Dad. Why, at the crack of dawn on my birthday, do I suddenly miss my girls?  Instead, I should count my blessings: Two terrific daughters with a great Mom in a warm and loving home.  They don’t live far. Gratitude trumps absence, and I smile. No worries, I’ll see them tonight.

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Angels’ Voices

Poem from Dad

I wrote the poem below for my two children, Amanda, 17 and Sarah, 13. It was late June, 2010. My hearing loss had just worsened profoundly and permanently. I could no longer discern the sound of either daughter’s voice and I wanted to offer reassurance.

First my world went silent,  then my sleeping dreams and now my memories–no sound. Nada.

Now, well over a year later, my memory of sound is also slipping. It’s weird. Lyrics to familiar songs remain firmly memorialized in my brain. I can recite the words. But I can’t hum the tune. I forget the melody. In the same way, I know the girl’s voices. None are more familiar. I just can’t recall the sound of their voices. This is a new phenomenon.  See, it’s been a gradual process. First my world went silent, then my sleeping dreams and now my memories–no sound. Nada. This is a very sad development of course.

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Sung by Precious Hands of Children

The following story is taken largely from an email that I sent to friends and loved ones when first dealing with my hearing loss. Here goes:

I knew nothing about American Sign Language (ASL) when my hearing problems first started.  My indifference did not stop a dear friend from taking the initiative to begin learning ASL on her own. This friend also happens to be a third grade teacher at a great school district in Bucks County.  So she began her proactive quest to learn a little sign language, including sharing her new found skills with her 8-year-old students. The children also seemed to take to it with some enthusiasm. The teacher explained to her students that she had a friend (me) who recently suffered sudden hearing loss and that’s why she wanted to learn sign.

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Speaking on Hearing

Brian Patrick Jensen speaking without hearing

Speaking Stints

I was recently giving a motivational talk about developing your skills and abilities. The gist of the message concerned taking responsibility for that which you can truly nourish (yourself) and stop blaming the world for things you cannot change. Good stuff.

I had about a half hour; so the message had to be short and snappy. It was one of those stage deals in an auditorium-sized facility with the big presentation screens on the side and me being able to work the center stage with a roaming microphone. My audience was 400 or so, most of whom didn’t know about my hearing condition.

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