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Story Last modified at 10:11 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We can speak in so many ways
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By Bren Rodgers

I don't text, tweet or even e-mail much. The dry-erase board is my game. At least it has been for the past week following an oral gum grafting. The dentist said I was not to speak for a week.

Family and friends in the Lower 48 were so excited about the silencing of me that they threatened to come up to Alaska just to see me not talk. Since they were so pleased to see me quiet after 73 years, I'll make sure the dental office remits the bill to them.

Finding the right mechanism for communication took a bit of sleuthing prior to shopping. I wished I had been wise enough to learn sign language and marvel at those who do, either out of necessity or caring.

I didn't think chalk boards were sold any longer.

So the question was whether it would be a hand-held dry erase board or a wet erase board. Of course, I asked Jeeves and got my answer. Dry was more functional for my need to be quick with pen and eraser.

Hubby was very understanding until I woke him up in the middle of the night in a darkened bedroom with a flashlight and the sentence, "Please stop that damn snoring."

Big mistake. Even after being hurled across the room, the board was not hurt at all.

The biggest joy was not having to answer the home telephone.

Thank goodness for voice mail. I am sure I missed out on a few solicitors, be they political, fund raising or fraudulent. My cell phone stayed on charge and got a long deserved rest.

My morning walk consisted of more than sweats and sneakers. The marker, board and I became a fixture. Written was "Good Morning. Can't talk. Doc's orders."

One of my favorite spots was Wal-Mart, where staff greeted me with laughter or concern with one even running over with a note of reply writing "Good morning to you too."

As my usual quest is to learn, much was gained by my temporary silencing. "Lonely" was the overwhelming feeling.

For once, I could not vocalize my quick wit to bring laughter and smiles to others.

But more important, I learned what a joy it was to hear and write. How blessed I am to be able to do both. Never again will I ignore a deaf person's signing when I can smile and communicate a written "How do you do."

Bren Rodgers is a retired public health educator who has lived in Eagle River since 1977 and loves the outdoors, writing and exercise walking.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.