As a Facilitator, I have been present for a number of conversations with people experiencing memory loss as part of the StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative. Sometimes these conversations are an opportunity for the person with memory loss to share his or her stories, but it is not always so straightforward. In one conversation, a son and his father sat with their sensational mother and wife, whose stroke had left her unable to speak more than a few words. She listened to her husband recount their four year courtship through letters while he served in World War II.
Her son also remembered her devotion to her children and the love for theater she instilled in him. She was quiet and unresponsive during the interview but dazzled everyone near the end with a smile and the words, “Them were the days.” While her voice barely registers on the recording, she is present in the voices of loved ones as they narrate her story. (more…)
On August 5, Anna Walters and I traveled to Menorah Home and Hospital in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn.? I met Ralph Wolfe, a resident who came to talk with his good friend Jane Rosenthal, the Executive Vice President of the Menorah facility. Ralph’s story shed light on what it was like to grow up deaf in the 30s, and how much has changed since then.
At age seven, Ralph lost his hearing to scarlet fever, the same disease that left Helen Keller and Thomas Edison deaf in childhood. Still, Ralph was determined to stay in public school. He taught himself to read lips and was the first hearing-impaired student to graduate with honors from his grade school in Brooklyn. Although Ralph had learned to speak and succeed on his own in school, his deafness was deemed “disruptive” in high school. (more…)