One of my Facebook friends once asked if my being in the Coast Guard entitled me to benefits like a real veteran. It did, and I was recently fitted with hearing aids at the VA Medical Center in Togus. I lost the left one, probably while pulling off my face mask. Carl, the audiologist, put a new end on my right hearing aid. It works so well that it is the only one I need. However, Carl insisted on making me a new pair and says this one can be my spare.

Have you any idea of what a struggle it is to get fitted for hearing aids at the VA now? It must have taken 15 minutes for me to answer the questions about what I wanted. “What color? Silver to match your hair?”

“No. My hair is still brown. I want some just like the old ones.”

“Well, we can get you that brand if you like, but there are lots of brands. Do you want them to work with your phone?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I never take calls on my smartphone. No one but my wife, Marsha, even knows the number. I only use it to take pictures to flaunt on Facebook.”

Can you imagine how often I’d be crying for techie help if my hearing aids were hooked to a smartphone that I don’t know how to use?


“Can’t I get just the left hearing aid?”

“No. I’m giving you two new ones. They talk to each other.”

“Can I get some for my wife? She’s always glad to have someone to talk to.”

I had to have my ears checked in a sound booth where you push a button when you hear a beeping noise. It reminded me of going in 1967 to Bucharest, where I represented U.S. linguistic students at the 10th International Congress of Linguists. When I asked why I had been chosen to represent Harvard, Yale and the University of Maine at Machias, I was told that I was probably the only student who applied.

At the time, Bucharest was in a communist country, so when I was given a private tour of the linguistics building and taken down into the cellar and led into the audio sound booth with the mikes and soundproof door, I thought to myself: “This might not turn out well.”



What did turn out well is the new helper, who is here today doing things that are now hard for us to do.

The helper doesn’t vacuum the carpets and floors. Marsha and I can only slide the vacuum across the floor, but our helper punishes the carpets, pushing the business end down as if it were a scrub brush. She even gets those subatomic particles that only Marsha can see.

During a storm two weeks ago, I lost the tool house door when it came open and slatted in the wind.

A friend screwed the door back on with four sheetrock screws. And my snow shovels were screwed inside.

So I ventured forth with our helper and a screw gun, removed the screws, retrieved the shovels and put the door back on with only one screw in the top hinge and one screw not even all the way in on the wooden button. Because that’s all that it needed to keep it from blowing off in the highest wind.

’Twas all I could do, and I couldn’t have done it without help as she lugged the drill and two shovels back to the house.


This morning I stripped the bed and got everything in the wash. Our helper brought it up from the dryer and made the bed. Just the way Marsha likes it. The quilt must be exactly in line with the bed frame so it looks perfectly even. Only took her a matter of minutes. I am serious when I tell you it would take me the better part of two hours.

She’s uptown now, picking up our groceries. In a way I’m glad, because she sucks all the oxygen out of the room the way she zips around.

For years, Marsha worked as a housekeeper/lawnmower/gardener/who-knows-what-else for a man who had several employees. And had she known how wonderful it can be to be on the other end of that domestic relationship, we would have employed help years ago.

You might remember the old saying: “God helps those who are able to hire someone to do things for them.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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