a brother’s visit is bittersweet

| 27 Sep 2016 | 04:54

My brother came to New York last week to visit friends and family and take in the sights. We grew up 30 miles north of here, and my brother lived in New York City for only two years after college, while I’ve been here since the dawn of time.

My sister-in-law lived in New York for many years and missed it. They retired 10 years ago from where they had lived in Florida for many years to Mexico, and I’ve not been in good enough physical shape to take that long trip to visit them there. The last time I saw my brother was about six years ago, when we all had a reunion at my nephew’s home in Florida.

Of course it was wonderful to see my brother again last week, but also bittersweet. In the back of my mind was “when, if ever, will I see him again?” Neither of us is young (I am more than for years older than he is). I doubt I’ll get to the hills of Mexico, and this trip to New York may be their last. While they do travel a lot, it’s to many different places and this was a special treat.

When we’re young, we just take it for granted that we will see people again. It’s not a thought that lingers somewhere back in the dark reaches of the brain that maybe we won’t. It was a lovely reunion, and my brother got to meet my adorable little grandson for the first time. He and my sister-in-law took in all the sights that never cross my mind to visit. Now I am feeling a bit melancholy. One just never knows.

Something else on my mind these fall days: those hearing aids that I’ve been avoiding for many years.

There’s the cost, of course, and the fact that, unlike eye glasses, they’re a pain in the backside. My partner is always fiddling with batteries and dealing with upkeep. And I hate things in my ears.

However, lately, my excuses are becoming less and less valid. There’s so much going on in the world of hearing aids, including better technology and over-the-counter “hearables.” New developments are happening constantly. Did you know that Medicare didn’t include hearing aids in the original plan because hearing loss was considered a natural part of aging? Perhaps it’s time for a change.

Still, the many new options make them affordable for many more folks than in the past. For one, there’s Costco’s reasonably priced audiologists and hearing aids. Many new hearing aids work with apps (guess I’d finally need a smart phone). They adjust for environment, modulate tinnitus and duplicate the auditory processing center in the brain. Some sites to check out are HearingTracker.com and BuyHear.com, Hearingwholesale.com and iHearMedical.com, which may be a game-changer when it comes to affordable hearing aids.

Pretty soon I will have run out of excuses to avoid hearing aids and maybe I will be able to attend movies without subtitles. I’ve missed some pretty good films because of my hearing.

I’ve been volunteering for over 30 years at The Riverside Language School, which was asked to leave its home on the third floor of Riverside Church after 38 years. Temple B’nai Jeshurun on West 89th Street stepped in and offered space, and I had my first lunchtime conversation at the new location on Monday. Basically it’s a time for interested students at the school to just chat with volunteers to improve their English conversation skills.

I enjoy it tremendously and have learned so much about the world through the students. I’m so thrilled that B’nai Jeshurun stepped into the void and that the language school was able to find a place to continue its wonderful work with immigrants from all over the world.

And finally. Can someone explain why Starbucks encourages people to sit for hours on end with their laptops, making it impossible to walk in, have a coffee and sit for a while? I’ve left countless Starbucks because there were no empty seats, and its seems to me that they would be losing business because of the lack of places to bide a wee. I’m puzzled and annoyed and just wonder why they actually seem to want this as they advertise free WiFi.

Don’t they want walk-in business? Just asking.