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if not in words

Past a certain threshold, things simply stopped making sense to her...
Did she think in words? I'd ask. She did not know. If not in words, how did she organize her thoughts? She did not know that either. Does anyone?

— André Aciman. “Are you listening? Conversations with my deaf mother.”
The New Yorker (March 17, 2014)   *

This beautiful essay prompts a trawl through memory.

I’ve had some experience — my mother’s, fifty years ago — with late onset deafness, in her case but a side effect of much bigger troubles. Remember lots of note pads, Mystic Writing Pads, frustrations and incomprehensions, alienations. Her academic specialization had been speech and drama. I remember progressively less speech, more drama. But before surgical procedures and deafness and decline, she tutored me through an allergy-related absence from First Grade. Three months of phonics and dipthongs and all manner of ingenious flashcards. Successful enough: I continued on to the next grade.

As for organizing thoughts, fear I may prefer sound over sense.

13 March 2014

deafness; words; words liable to error
André Aciman