By Larry Teren
They say silence is golden. I guess it depends if it is forced on you or you prefer it that way. The other day I bumped into a friend (no, I didn’t hurt him) just a wee bit older than me in the parking lot of a supermarket. Whenever I see him or his brothers, the first question I ask is how his father is doing now that he is widowed and living in an assisted living facility. (It is a mixed environment where most residents can get up and walk around and enjoy life’s pleasures. Some still drive a car but there are a few on the top floor who need almost nursing home care.)
My friend told me that his father is doing just fine mentally. They recently traveled together overseas and the only negative is that his father needed to hold onto him while they walked.
His father is enjoying himself at the facility. He gets two meals a day in the dining hall and has the right to stow personal food in his room for other meals. He even has a lady friend, not a girl friend. In other words, she likes him more than he cares for her. He is not attracted to her but likes to have someone sit with him while he eats so that he doesn’t feel lonely.
Then, my friend looked at me and said, “you see, it is different for you. You are used to living by yourself. You probably enjoy it being quiet. As for me, when I come home and my wife is not around, I turn on the radio so I don’t have to listen to the silence.”
Maybe it is true. What do they say? ‘You reap what you sow.’ I have gotten used to the silence. I enjoy lying in bed at night reading a book not having to focus on any distracting noise. I can read without interruption. I put on the radio not because I can’t stand the quiet but as an aid to help me relax to sleep.
There are sounds I hear when it is all quiet at night that are there during the day as well. It’s just that I don’t pay attention to it during the daytime- like cars traveling on the major arterial street outside my condo building. Or the ticking of the clock. That’s okay- I don’t mind those noises. They remind me that even as I retire for the night, things keep happening because they are supposed to.
So, what’s easier- a person who is used to noise getting used to silence or the loner getting used to having to share his or her milieu with another? Well, I grew up with four siblings and parents in a residence where for most of the time there was only one washroom. Obviously, I was used to noise all around me for the first third of my life. After that, it was both choice and happenstance. And unless someone drops a nuclear bomb, most likely the last portion of my time here will be in a shared environment. So, I guess I can go either way. (Hey, don’t get the wrong idea!)