Among her exceptional qualities, my wife is significantly dyslexic. Its not just reading, but her hearing and speech are affected as well. Sometimes it requires an in depth analysis to make out what she has said. Usually, we just refer to the family code book. I have become quite adept at decoding her speech, and have been able to adjust my speech to facilitate her understanding of what I am trying to express.
I am no stranger to communicating with those who suffer from speech and/or hearing issues. During my travels through Europe, I was wandering through Rome, looking for the Trevi Fountain. I suspected I was lost, and ducked into a small cafe to ask for directions. “Mi scusi, parla inglese?”, I asked the man behind the counter. “Si”, he replied, “I speak English good”.
“I think I am lost. Can you tell me how to get to the Trevi Fountain?” , I asked.
“Oh,Yes we accept Traveller’s Checks”, he replied. Despite this total lack of help, I finally made it to my destination. This singular experience prepared me for a lifetime of communicating with my wife.
A few months ago, there was a noxious odor emanating from somewhere in the house. The city was called, and they recommended contacting Toronto Fire Services. The Fire Department arrived, investigated, and were able to correct the situation. I was not home for this excitement, but heard all about later. “So, is this going to happen again?”, I asked my wife.
“They don’t think so.”, she said. “It’s been fixed.”
“Did they say anything else?”, I inquired.
“They said we should get a different ecstingisher.”
“A better ecstingisher.”, she replied. “One that puts out all different types of fires.”
“Oh”, I laughed, “An extinguisher.”
“Yes. That’s what I said. A fire ecstingisher.”
“The word is extinguisher.”, I informed her.
“Are you sure?”, she asked. “That doesn’t sound right.” All I could do was smile, and kiss her on the forehead.
One summer, when her asthma was particularly bad, she wanted to purchase a pearlafiler. “What is that?”, one of my daughters asked,
“You know, the thing that cleans the air”.
My daughter almost fell over laughing. “Its an air purifier. Not pearlafiler. Purifier.”
“I don’t think so.”, she stated. “How do you spell it?” She grabbed a pen and paper. My daughter spelled it out for her, as my wife purposely wrote each letter down. After looking at what she had written, she shook her head. “Pearlafiler.”, she stated. “That’s what I said.”
There has been talk in the house of creating a Dyslexic Dictionary, a sort of guide for the non dyslexic. It would include such items as ‘kneehives’-nothing to do with bees, but rather stockings that go up to the knees; psychosymetric-not about the perfect relationship with the various aspects of the mind, but refers to the physical illness associated with psychological distress; Alltimers-nothing to do with people who are available around the clock, but a disease of the mind, occurring in the elderly; Sawsticker-not a decal of a carpenter’s tool, but the emblem of Nazi Germany. There are so many more, but for now, I will continue to decipher using my intuition, and the family code book as necessary.