D and D

Elderly Couple - Unconditional Love

“Those are my parents,” she replied, answering my unasked question. “They look so cute together, don’t they?”

I had to agree. Holding hands as they strolled through the park, the gentle autumn breeze tousling their silver hair, they looked beautiful.

“How long have they been married?” I asked. 

“Sixty one years,” she answered. We could see them whispering into each others ear and smiling. 

I wondered what they could say, after so many years, that they would find so amusing. My new friend broke into my thoughts. “Dad is hard of hearing. Well, as he tells me, ‘Loretta, I’m deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other.’ ” 

“Mom speaks to him in his good ear,” she continued. “She tells him things like maybe he should get on the roof and clear the leaves out of the gutters. Or, it won’t be too long and he will need to get the Christmas tree out of the attic.”

I turned to her looking a little surprised that these octogenarians would consider climbing on a roof or into an attic.   

Loretta explained, “Mom has dementia so she thinks they are still in their 50’s. Dad won’t really be on the roof or up in the attic any time soon. He nods and smiles having no idea what she is saying, but agreeing because it makes her happy.” She smiled and continued, “Several years ago my parents explained their D and D. How it would and has affected their marriage.”

Puzzled, I asked, “What is D and D?”    

She smiled, “Deafness and dementia. My parents knew that Dad was going deaf and that dementia was certainly in Mom’s future, but they explained that every relationship should have D and D.”

“We should be deaf to the unkind words our partners or friends say unintentionally. And we should forget the unkind things they have done.” 

Loretta’s dad motioned for her to come over to them and I watched the three of them walk toward their car, get in, and drive away. 

I wonder - do all of our relationships have D and D? Are we deaf to unkind words and do we forget the unkind actions?