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“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” -Ram Dass

My father and I have always had a push-pull relationship. For every time we connected, there was another we didn’t see eye-to-eye.

There’s no question I respect and love him unconditionally. He’s “been there” for me so many times, he truly earned his father’s day figurine.

think differently about dads

Simultaneously, there are times I struggle to understand his point of view, let alone agree with it. And I’ve pulled out quite a bit of proverbial hair in frustration. (To be fair, I am certain he’d say the same about me.)

But recently, something happened. A piece of information was shared that instantly shattered a preconceived belief of mine and caused a groundswell of compassionate acceptance.

It was just the type of epiphany this blog celebrates

via GIPHY

A little about that

When we see the world through a limited perspective, we only get limited benefits. That’s a problem that can affect every area of life, often unconsciously.

This blog was created to share stories that open your eyes, expand your mind, and in so doing, reshape your point of view. Without getting into the quantum physics of it all, know this:

As you change the way you look at the world, the world you look at changes

So reading this will almost literally rock your world!

Stand up and Cheer for your Epiphany

Ok. Aside aside

I often bring you other stories. But this one’s mine. It’s absolutely true. There was astonishment. And it made me think differently.

How it all began

When I was growing up, my dad and I had our share of disagreements. Many of them were notable (to me) for how facts were skewed (by him). I remember thinking he was fabricating the past just so he could make his point.

After many years of this, a label was made. My brother and I said he employed “selective memory”. I.e. He remembered what, and how, he wanted to remember.

You can only imagine my exasperation when I could get punished based on faulty, or worse, self-righteous memories.

via GIPHY

But there was an important piece of information unconsidered.

Dad said “What?” or “Beg your pardon?” a lot. Though he was loathe to admit it, he had hearing loss. And that, in all probability, was the reason for the misalignment between my recall and his.

But that’s not the eye-opening end of this story.

My father eventually admitted he had a problem. Had his ears checked. And got hearing aids.

And over the years, I’ve come to understand his issue. Even when I didn’t.

Because he would find every possible reason to *avoid* wearing his hearing aids. I never got a straight answer from him as to why. But I think he didn’t want to admit he had a problem. Unfortunately, this meant far too many misheard statements, requests to repeat yourself, and half-earnest nods-and-smiles to make it look as though he heard you.

I was sensitive to his hearing loss, but I would still get annoyed if I wasn’t being understood correctly… because he was rarely wearing his aids! And when he did wear them, they didn’t work well (or so he says). No matter how powerful they were.

How to hear differently

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, I guess. It’s no fun having to repeat myself, several times, as though I’m yelling to someone a mile away, But I acknowledge that it’s biology. He’s got a physical impairment. I can accept that. ’Tis what ’tis.

And yet, I’m still rankled when his selective memory rears its head. Even knowing what I know, I still near the end of my rope when he tells me, with absolute certainty, that I said something I would never, ever say.

I think it’s because he doesn’t back down. I don’t know if I ever heard him say, “Well, maybe I’m wrong. Sometimes I hear things incorrectly.” No, usually he holds his position as if its veracity was recorded on videotape.

And that’s when we return to the vexing Land of Impasse.

What is different about this bridge

What comes next may surprise you

Perhaps not coincidentally, my wife and I are dealing with audiologists and the like re my son. As fate may have it, he has his hearing issues, too.

I was on the phone with my father, telling him my kid might have CAPD – Central Auditory Processing Disorder.

If unfamiliar, auditory processing is how the brain translates the raw data of what you hear into the concepts we know and understand.

“When a person has central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), the part of the brain that translates what the ear delivers does not function properly. The person with CAPD can hear sounds, but how the brain translates those sounds is disrupted, and the end result is a garbled message.” –CAPDsupport.org

Then suddenly, my eyes were opened

My dad said, “Oh, yes. I have auditory processing disorder, too. I understand what he must go through.”

In that moment, my heart simultaneously broke and swelled for the man.

For so many decades, in so many cases, I would growl with frustration because he wasn’t remembering the way I remembered, wasn’t hearing the way I heard, wasn’t aiding himself the way I would.

But I never knew that he had auditory processing disorder.

All this time, even if he was hearing well enough, he wasn’t understanding the way you or I might. It explains everything.

  • I felt bad for being such a bear all those times.
  • I sympathized with his plight dealing with an unseen disability that was, until recently, also unknown.
  • I realized how difficult everyday conversations can be for him and how it may have affected relationships.
  • I grew enormously compassionate for my father. He is who he is. Living the best way he knows how. And that, as they say, is that.

I got a healthy dose of my own eye-opening medicine.

What’s it all mean in the end?

I will be more open-minded, gentler, and forgiving with people, regardless of my individual (often trivial, when you think about it) frustrations. McCartney may have said it best.

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