Friday, July 8, 2011


Whenever I get into a grouchy mood, I always make sure I let my husband know by telling him, “I’m a Magoo.” In case you don’t know him, Mr. Magoo was a very happy-go-lucky, almost blind cartoon character from when I was growing up—and before. Although, in general, he was a pleasant guy, I always think of Magoo from when he played the part of “Scrooge.” I pretty sure he got grumpy (not 100% sure though, but it’s enough for me…and Kenny knows what I’m talking about anyway). Therefore, when I say, “I’m a Magoo,” he knows what I mean: I’m in my hate-everything mood.

In fact, I’ve been a Magoo for quite some time this summer. Summer is usually a total Magoo season for me. I’m stuck at home with three kids who are always “bored,” with no money to go anywhere but the library or Speedway for a slushie, and with no friends to hang with. To add to that this year, I’ve been in charge of planning my parent-in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. And, after months of planning and sending out invites and buying decorations, the time has arrived for the party. It is to be held on the 16th of July (one week and one day from today).

There is a pretty big difference between my family growing up and my husband’s family growing up. My family is a bit more formal, while his parents are pretty low-keyed and easy going (when it comes to hanging out).  So, for MY parents’ 25th anniversary, we had a pretty fancy schmancy party. That was about 15 years ago. And this year, for KENNY’S parents’ 50th anniversary, we rented a pavilion at a nearby park, invited family from all over the country, and will be having a BBQ. To make matters even more casual, when my mother-in-law found out about the party, she immediately decided she would be the one to prepare the lunch.

And so the plan is for us to decorate, have lunch, do a toast, eat some cake and enjoy ourselves. At least, that’s my hope….for others. For me? I’m a Magoo. Sure, I’m excited about the decorating and I really hope they have a wonderful time. But that last part – “enjoy ourselves”?? That would include “me” and that’s one I don’t know if I’ll be able to do.

There I’ll be. One solitary deaf member of the family standing around in silence while 100 other hearing people surround me. I’d say, of the 100 people that are going to be there, only four of them have been around me since I became stone deaf. No one can sign. I can’t lipread. I am not a people person. All of these things make me cringe a bit when thinking of what’s to come.

So, I did what I normally do when I’m feeling something I’m thinking is wrong: I went to the library and got myself a book on happiness. Didn’t like it. Nothing they said made me happy. Phooey on them.

Then I got a book on optimism, but I never read it because it’s probably not any good anyway.

Next was a book on how to tolerate being around anyone annoying. I couldn’t read it. The picture on the cover annoyed me and the inside picture of the author made me very unhappy and pessimistic.

Finally, I got a book on appreciation. It wasn’t bad, though it probably wasn’t very hard to write. I mean, it’s not like the author had to work very hard to say, “You got it better than you think you did, so stop whining!” Yet, it did make me feel a bit more in place. (But it wasn’t making me appreciate anything either). Kidding…….

We leave for Illinois on Monday. The party is the following Sunday. I will have paper and pen in my hands, a keyboard sitting on the side of the table I’m sitting at, and a book to read as I hide in the corner. That’s my plan. But there’s gotta be more advice out there on having a relaxing time and making communication not as difficult besides, “Ask them to write,” and such.

Perhaps you have some advice for me? How to smile and actually enjoy myself for the long party and the visiting before and after (we’re talking days). Other than, “Stick close to your husband and kids so they can interpret for you.”

So, if you have any advice, now would be a great time to give it to me. I may be a Magoo, but, if I remember correctly, he was all ears (well, all head anyway). And I’m all eyes. Hit me with it!


  1. Might I suggest using twitter and tweeting? I have found it to be a great way to communicate. My Fabulous Husband and I like to txt one another fun little things from across the room at events he is photographing. I can't hear, but we make it fun by texting. I've even txt my hosts a time or two and they laugh and we have fun. Set up a twitter account just for the event and make twitter part of the party and come up with funny little twitter names just for the event. It's an idea.

  2. When I have to endure large family get togethers or other events with lots of people, my solution is usually to seek out the youngest members there (preferably no older than 3 or 4yrs old) and amuse myself with them. It's getting trickier because they're all getting older. They don't seem to care that I can't understand them. And they appreciate it when I make funny faces at them (well, at least up until age 2)
    If there are no little ones to amuse myself with, I watch the other grown-ups and make up what they might be saying. The guys will always talk shop (weather, tractors, cows, fields) and the womenfolk will talk houses,kids, food and crafts.
    The other option I use, which works best if the gathering is at my place or my parents farm, is to simply busy myself in the kitchen.
    This is what works for me. Might not work for you. I have some hearing left and can read lips somewhat.

  3. I totally understand your reluctance! last summer my husbands family invited us to his grndmothers 80th b-day party which if I knew then what I know now I wuld have made any excuse possible not to go! My husband and I have been marrie almost 18 yrs now so his family is well aware that I am deaf but have taken the stance that if they ignore it (deafnes) it will go away. I had a horrible time no one realy talked or even tried to talk to me and at night they all decided to sit around the campfire in the dark and talk which I immediatly became bored and looking to my husband for help he was too caught up with what was going on to even help me understand what was being said! I think the twitter idea is great or even if you and your husband come up with a game plan to keep you in the loop instead of him just marching off merrily leaving you behind. Sorry I'm a Magoo myself on this subject and do not want to go to the next reunion they have. Good luck!

  4. I came to this site on accident. I am hearing. I think that is horrible. I know that reunions suck when you CAN hear all the relatives whispering rude things about you, but frankly I don't see why people wouldn't want to make an effort to get to know someone and learn sign language as a means of communication.

    I am sure that they feel as left out of your life as you feel left out of theirs in this situation. The uncertanty of how to communicate is always there. Every time I walk into a room full of people I feel it.

    The only difference between you and them is there is only one of you. Both sides can't seem to converse. And it isn't like they are speaking japanese and all you have to do is learn it. They are the ones who need to learn your language. I think you should be assertive in showing them what signs are what and see if they don't start using them. You have alot to give in many ways, even if you are a magoo, I can tell from the above, that if I was given the chance in real life, you are someone I would want to be able to converse with. I am not saying to teach a whole room full of people how to use sign language. But the important people in your life NEED to know.. including your husbands family. If they don't learn they will be missing out on who you are.
    It may not help this reunion, but it may help future ones. I am sorry if i am speaking out of turn or offending anyone, I just can't imagine one of my brothers marrying a deaf woman and us not trying to learn asl to get to know her.