When I was a child, many of my peers asked me a puzzling question, “Are you Death?”
Since they looked irritated rather than scared, I figured that they hadn’t mistaken me for the Grim Reaper. I certainly didn’t have the right girth, height or clothes to resemble the Grim one. The context of the question provided the clue for its meaning. It would be the answer to the second or third time I’d ask a child, “What did you say?”
I had a unilateral hearing loss when I was a toddler. Between having a good ear and getting three years of speech therapy, I navigated the world of sound fairly well except for problems with apprehending the words of others at times. Aside from the annoyance of being asked if I was Death, life went on. Some of my hearing errors in later years could lend interest to conversations if I told people what I thought they’d said. For instance, imagine if Bruce Lee Mania had once ruled Italy instead of Mussolini. Moving onto theology, is it exegesis or Extra Jesus?
At times this hearing issue has helped me parent my daughter. When I first heard the Calorad radio commercial, I told her that it sounded as if they were singing a jingle about cataracts, and I had her attention for a short lecture on the history of patent medicine from snake oil to The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.
Recently I had an experience that informed me that I need to say aloud what I think someone has said if I have any doubt whatsoever of their words. One of my coworkers had mentioned several times that his daughter had entered a lamp into some sort of competition and that he’d be taking off work for her demonstration of said lamp. When he’d talk about this matter, I’d imagine that his daughter must be quite precocious to be entering a lamp she wired and designed into a science or engineering fair during her first few weeks of high school. Actually, she is a year younger than her classmates and is at the top of her class. I considered that the lamp probably had a paper thin LED light and was powered by some alternative form of energy.
When he returned to work the day after his daughter’s competition, I was ready to ask him how her lamp had fared and what sort of questions were asked about her design. Before I had the chance to ask, he told me and another coworker that he had pictures of the event. On his phone, there was a photo of his daughter at a county fair standing next to a lamb with delicate fleece fur.
At the risk of being asked if I am Death, I need to keep asking people what they’ve said or tell them what I thought they said, or else lambs will light the way.