Sunday, June 24, 2012


Hobbits are a fictional diminutive race who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel,
The Hobbit.  The novel The Lord of the Rings includes more hobbits as major characters.
So, as most people probably know, hobbits have odd eating habits, eating six normal sized meals a day. Here's a list of the meals they eat:
1. Breakfast
2. Second Breakfast
3. Elevenses
4. Lunch
5. Afternoon Tea
6.  Dinner
7. Supper
My parents are becoming hobbits.  No, really.  They are.  I know this because over the last three years I have observed their eating habits and they have changed dramatically. When Bill & Mary Beth first moved here in 2009, they took care of most of their own meals, in particular breakfasts & lunches.  Once they were comfortable in the kitchen, familiar with where everything was kept, they were able to take care of themselves.  I thought this was good because the more involved they were in such matters the quicker they would feel like they were home and not guests in their daughter's house. 

First breakfast is served around 7AM.  For over 60 years, Bill has had 2 scrambled eggs for breakfast with bacon or sausage, toast, OJ and coffee with cream & sugar.  No deviations, except on occasion I think he'd have over easy eggs - you know, for a change of pace.  He made his own breakfast.  There wasn't a day during my entire childhood that I didn't see him whipping up eggs in a bowl using a fork.  My mother didn't eat eggs but maybe once a week.  Mary Beth preferred cold cereal with toast in the morning, usually plain cereals like Corn Flakes or Cheerios.  Sometimes she'd go for plain shredded wheat - the kind that looks like the baled haystacks you see in fields when passing farms.  These breakfasts were the same even after moving here until about a year later.  Mary Beth informed me that Bill was having a hard time making breakfast due to physical limitations.  Actually what she said was that he was so slumped over the stove she thought he'd catch on fire!  Now THERE is an image for a caregiver to contemplate!  I went to him and suggested that I do breakfast. Because of his diminished appetite, my dad only eats 1 egg now with OJ and coffee.  No toast or bacon.  Mary Beth still eats cold cereal everyday, however after she discovered Froot Loops in our kitchen, she never ate healthy cereal again.  .

So that takes care of breakfast.  For about 30 minutes.  Second breakfast is served around 8AM.  After returning to her bedroom, Mary Beth will call out for more coffee and usually something to go with it.  Sometimes a pastry, cookie or an onion bagel with peanut butter.  Don't ask.   Bill carries chocolates in his pockets, as well as, cookies.  If there is pie or cake from the night before, they will ask for that.  

Elevenses time can vary anywhere from 9-10AM.  It usually consists of cereal or waffle topped with ice cream.  That's right.  Ice cream.  The waffle will also have fruit on it.  Strawberries, peaches or bananas.  No syrup because that would make it too sweet, you know.

Lunch is served anytime between 10-noon.  That usually consists of a half sandwich with coffee or soft drink for Mary Beth.  Bill used to eat that, too, but now wants Froot Loops with ice cream.  He will sometimes have Cream of Wheat, but with honey & butter.  No ice cream.

They usually take a nap after lunch, wouldn't you?  When they wake they will have a snack with something to drink.  I guess that's Afternoon Tea.  It takes place between 2 & 4PM. Many times they will come into the living room to watch TV and they have their Afternoon Tea in there.  Cheez-its and coke for Bill.  Flavored Wheat Thins and Sprite for Mary Beth.  They love to have milkshakes, too, so if I make a milkshake, they will share it.

Around 4PM they are looking for dinner.  They have had it as late as 6PM, though, depending on the household schedule.  They have become finicky in their golden years.  If I fix a roast with potatoes and root veggies, they may eat some.  Many times I have fixed a meal like that only to have them ask for Cream of Wheat, soup, Ramen or canned tamales.  This used to aggravate me, but I came to realize that if they are eating, that is the more important issue.  After dinner, they both want dessert.  It can be ice cream(again!), pie, cake, cookies or sometimes another milkshake.

Between 6 & 8PM is supper. That's usually cereal or sometimes a handful of cookies or chocolates.  Then it's off to bed between 8 & 9PM.

See what I mean?  Hobbits!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meatball sub, anyone?

A sandwich is a food item, typically consisting of two or more slices of bread with one or more fillings between them.  The sandwich generation is defined as the people who care for aging parents, as well as their own children-a phenomena that has become more commonplace in recent years in this country.  For my family, our stint in the sandwich generation began in 2009 with both of my parents on one side and my daughter on the other side.  One year later my son would boomerang back to become part of the sandwich.  A three generational home is the norm in most countries except in the United States.  Many cultures do not understand the need to push children out of the nest.  Nor do they expect their aging parents to live in retirement homes.  Family taking care of family.  It's been traditional family life in other countries, but because it is a new concept for most people in this country new challenges arrive on a daily basis.

One consideration for my parents, Bill & Mary Beth moving here to live with us was where they would sleep in the house.  We chose the house based on their needs more than ours.  A bedroom on the main floor was the first requirement of a prospective house because we knew at some point they wouldn't navigate stairs well.  What we found were many houses with guest rooms on the first floor and although that would be fine for a temporary guest, it was not a viable solution for permanent elderly residents.  This house was perfect and we knew it the minute we walked into the front door.  We  have them in the Master bedroom on the main floor.  Our downstairs bedroom is directly below them and allows us to hear my parents if they call out during the night.  Selected pieces from my parents' home went into the dining room and parlor on the main floor.  This allows them to continue to enjoy it and to feel a little more at home while here.  They lived in their last home for almost 50 years, so I never wanted them to regret being here.  One thing we didn't plan for was the maneuverability of a wheelchair within the house.  Thankfully, the open floor plan on the main floor has worked well for the wheelchair my mom now uses since breaking her shoulder in February.  So the layout has worked for them quite well.  That's the first side of my sub sandwich.

The second side of the sandwich is my children.  The house has a loft area that consists of a mini-living room with two bedrooms, a linen closet and bathroom.  They are both in college, but living at home. It's like they are suite mates.  The only thing it lacks at this point, according to Alex and Taylor, is a mini fridge and microwave.  I told them not to push it.  Let's face it, we want them to leave eventually!  The loft is a bit of an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of elder care-giving.  (There will be plenty of opportunity for that when I move in with them in 30 years!!)  If I need help, I ask.

The loft overlooks the living room, so even if they are upstairs we are never really out of range.  Amazingly, as much room as we have here we still tend to gravitate toward each other.  One unforeseen aspect of this arrangement is that the family has become closer-knit.  I worried that we would have problems with six adults under one roof, but that has not happened.  Don't get me wrong.  We do have disagreements, but we seem to work them out without too much trouble.  Something occurred to me recently, too.   I actually like the people I live with and not just because they are relatives!  Each member of this house provides something positive as a result of being here.

You can't have a sandwich without the insides. The inside of our three generational sandwich is the caregivers, Steve & me.  I am a meatball because meatballs are complex.  They are soft, yet solid and have substance.  Steve is the sauce and the cheese because they temper the meatball, smooth out its roughness, gives it flavor and provides stability.  Without the sauce and cheese the sandwich would fall apart.  Steve has not once complained about bringing Bill & Mary Beth here.  In fact, I think he had less reservations about it than I did!  Steve was lucky when it came to in-laws, though.  My family accepted him with open arms and my siblings have always treated him like a brother. Actually, my mother chose my husband for me.  Not in the traditional sense, mind you.  I had a tendency to date "mutts" and I knew this, but couldn't seem to attract a decent fellow.  When I met Steve the first thing I learned was that he was already a college graduate and was in graduate school.  He was spiritual, conservative and he thought I was cute.  We were friends for a year before dating.  After dating for two months he met my parents.  I knew that if my mom didn't like him, he was history.  I have talked about her penchant for judging based on looks, so I held my breath as they were introduced.  They loved him  right away because he was respectful, gentlemanly, and talkative.  He talked to them as if he always knew them and it impressed them both.  She later remarked that she couldn't help but like him since it was obvious he was crazy about me.  Can't ask for more than that.

So it was Steve's turn to welcome my parents into our home with open arms.  All six of us work very well together and the sandwich is now complete.  A meatball sub sandwich.   It can get messy, but oh so good.  Welcome to the sandwich generation!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Watching active people lose vitality  & memory is so heartbreaking.  My parents, Bill & Mary Beth have become mere shells of who they used to be.  They have forgotten so much of what they did, where they went and who they knew.  It is difficult to balance what they are like now with the people I knew growing up. The aging process is nothing if not cruel and it is definitely an unforgiving nemesis to one's cherished memories.  Recently I started talking to them about their life experiences to stimulate their memories..  They also have created new memories while they live the remainder of their lives with us.

I was born in 1958, so my age of awareness is somewhere around 2-3 years old.  I think being at my maternal grandparents' house in Athens when my grandmother died is possibly my earliest memory.  I remember standing in the living room a midst dozens of people and I asked my sister where Nanny was and Kristie, being her forthright self said, "She's dead!"  I would have been 3 years & 4 months old.  Another memory from earlier that year is getting an umbrella stuck in my mouth..  I'm not kidding.  Remember the J-shaped umbrella handles?  I got this bright idea to stick in my mouth and it got lodged in the area directly behind my bottom teeth!  Having no background in geometry, biology, physics or common sense, I was flummoxed as to how to free myself.  There I was standing on our screened-in porch with this contraption stuck in my mouth, arms flailing and crying!  At some point I got outside to where my  mother stood talking to a neighbor.  She turned to see me walking toward her with this umbrella handle stuck in my mouth and the opposite end trailing between my legs because it was longer than I was tall.  My flailing arms stretched out and crying I looked at her unable to speak.  She said, "Oh, good lord!" and reached down to extricate the handle from my now very sore mouth.  That was 51 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the pain I felt when the hard plastic dug into my skin inside my mouth.

Most memories are not that clear or detailed.  With the passage of time they become blurred and forgotten.  It is worse with dementia.  Thankfully neither one of my parents have signs of any dementia.  I don't know if they appreciate that, but I do.  I am able to talk to them about different aspects of their lives and lately I have written them down for posterity.  My mother doesn't understand why.  I try to explain that everyone has a story, but no one thinks their own stories are interesting because they know the story inside and out.  When someone else hears those stories its with fresh ears and it is interesting.  My parents have 88 and 87 years worth of memories.  When I was growing up they were always on the go.  They attended church activities during the week, symphonies, concerts, plays, movies, cocktail parties and fund-raisers.  During the 60's my father scuba dived with my brother Bill and had a strong interest in HAM radio, as well as Toastmasters.  In the 70's my mother learned how to play tennis and played on a team.  In the 80's my father bought his first pair of walking shoes and they both started walking for exercise.  They also traveled extensively in the 80's and 90's.  Both of my parents were larger than life to me growing up. My dad could fix anything and my mom was always doing for others.  They started slowing down only in the past 8 years, but even after spending the majority of the year in the hospital in 2004, my dad climbed up onto the roof of the garage in Ohio to clean the gutters!  Even though he knew his fixer-upper days were over he still wanted to contribute.   The purpose of me talking about the things they did is so they feel a sense of accomplishment with their lives.  Feeling like one mattered in this world can make the difference in how one views the experience.

The lack of mobility taints my parents' view of their lives, too.  The first year here in 2009, they went with us to the Dunwoody 4th of July parade.  No walkers or wheelchairs, just a cane for my dad.  Mary Beth resisted using any assistance until this last year.  She was told to use a walker.  She didn't use it much and chose to leave it at home when she had a doctor's appointment this past February.  As she left the office she attempted to step down off the curb and fell breaking her shoulder. Ironically, for 6 weeks she had to be transported by wheelchair.  She continued to be pushed by my dad months later.  Only after being accused of getting lazy did she finally agree to use the walker, but only on occasion.  When he isn't pushing the wheelchair my dad uses a walker upstairs and a cane downstairs.  He has become much too shaky & unstable to move about without some type of assistance.  He gets easily frustrated when he cannot do the simplest of tasks.  That is one reason he started sleeping in his clothes, less work than wearing pajamas.  I had considered putting his computer in their bedroom, but then I realized that going downstairs to his office is one thing he can still do.  As long as it is not dangerous, he should keep doing it.  My mother stopped doing stairs last year.  She does continue doing artwork to a lesser extent than she used to.  It has become difficult, though and as a result frustrating.

Bill & Mary Beth were both only children, so when they married they wanted a large family.  They had 4 children and subsequently, 8 grandchildren.  Two of them are mine and they live here in the same house.  The ability to see their first 2 grandchildren become young adults is an experience that I know my parents enjoy.  Something they do here that they couldn't do in Ohio is to sit on a deck and watch hummingbirds.  We also have a plethora of wild animals in our yard.  Chipmunks, possums, hawks, owls and lizards have been seen in our backyard.  Our front yard has seen a fair share of deer coming and going, a site never experienced in Ohio.  We also have crepe myrtle trees, gardenias, azaleas, magnolias and irises that delight my mother to no end every spring and summer.  My parents also enjoy our cat, Buffy.  Buffy has taken to my dad quite a bit.  I have witnessed her coming into a room, survey the occupants and go directly to her grandpa.  She sits on him with a look of pure love on her face.  I know he loves her because he will sit still for hours while she sleeps in his arms or on his lap.  Another experience new to my parents being here is going to Dairy Queen every Sunday afternoon.  It started pretty soon after they moved here after they found out there was a DQ near-by.  The day I knew my mom was getting better from her broken shoulder was when she said she wanted DQ.  Getting into the garage and into the car was taxing, but she persevered and I knew she was going to be okay.

Having Bill & Mary Beth here has been an experience that I will not likely ever forget.  It is harder and more rewarding than I ever imagined.  I get told by people who hear what I'm doing that I have earned the entrance to Heaven, but I don't care if I have or not.  I'm doing this because of who they've been to me.  It is my goal that their last years are memorable.  After all, don't they deserve that much?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bill & Mary: The Love Story

Mary Pierce Engagement Picture-1946
Most love stories begin the same.  Boy meets girl.  Boy falls in love. Boy marries girl.  My parents were no exception except that it went more like this- Boy sees girl then takes entire summer to ask her out and finally has first date the night before she's scheduled to leave town.  But fate is a funny thing.  That first night both of my parents knew they'd not be apart for long.

In the Summer of 1944 my father, Bill,  was working at Curtis-Wright (now Rockwell) as part of his Engineering Co-op work study through the University of Cincinnati .  My mother, Mary, was also working at Curtis-Wright as a temporary secretary during her summer break from Ohio University.  The first time Bill Johnston saw Mary Pierce he was on a city bus on the way to work.  He looked out when the bus stopped and saw a beautiful, young, slender woman with long dark wavy hair running to catch it.  After boarding the bus she found herself face to face with a tall, lanky gentleman dressed in a typical suit and tie.   Mary looked up at him and smiled and said hi. She says he was drop dead gorgeous. According to Bill, he was already in love at that point.  He would see her on the bus daily, but didn't feel confident he could get a date.  He wondered about it  for 3 months and near the end of the summer someone told him  that Mary would be leaving the next day because her summer break was over.  Bill finally found his nerve.  They went on their first date that night at the VFW for dinner and dancing.  When he walked her home he was not sure of what to say so he told her to travel safely the next day and turned to leave.  She watched him walking away and knew that she was in love and at that moment called out to him softly saying his name, "Bill?"  He turned and ran back to her open arms taking her in his and kissing her for the first time and cementing the bond between them that has lasted 68 years.
Mary returned to school in Athens, Ohio and Bill returned to the University of Cincinnati.  At some point in the semester he sent her a letter suggesting that she come visit him in Cincinnati.  He had even arranged for her to stay in the Alpha  Gamma House on the UC campus, but my grandmother said it would be improper for my mom to do that.  According to my mother, my grandmother never put her foot down about very many things, but when she objected to my mother going to UC, my mom listened to her.  The following semester at the beginning of 1945, Mary left school to work for the war effort.  She wanted to go to either the Pentagon or to go work in Tampa, Florida at a Discharge Post.  She had never been to Florida so off to Tampa she went.   They had no openings so she went to work at a newspaper in the area.  It was in that office that she found out about the death of President Roosevelt when it come over the teletype machine in the newsroom.
Mary continued to work at the newspaper until a friend from OU came to Florida wanting to work in Sarasota and asked my mom to go with her.. Marcie and Mary arrived in Sarasota to get jobs at drug stores right after the movie "The Greatest Show on Earth" was filmed there.  Being a hub for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus my mom made friends with many of the circus performers and even stood bridesmaid when a friend married one.  Marcie soon got bored with Sarasota and returned to OU.  My mom finally got a spot with the Discharge Post and went back to Tampa.  When the Discharge Post closed she went to work for the VA in St. Petersburg.

Bill was Honorably Discharged from the Army Air Corps for having a bad chest x-ray, but he kept the uniform.  After Mary went to work in Florida,she didn't see him since travel was limited because of rationing.  During his summer break in 1946, Bill hitchhiked in his uniform from Cincinnati to St. Pete.  Mary says that she was on lunch break at work on the beach in St. Pete and when she returned to the office she saw this good-looking man in uniform walking toward her with a huge grin on his face.  She said she was so shocked to see him, but extremely happy.  She was crazy about him and he obviously felt the same way!  After he went back to school, Bill sent her a letter proposing marriage and she returned a letter accepting it.  In the Fall of 1946, he got a ride with other UC students going to the UC/OU football game in Athens, Ohio.  While in Athens he met Harold and Flora Pierce, my grandparents.  It was during this visit that he asked her father for her hand in marriage.  They both immediately gave them their blessing.

After becoming engaged, Mary returned to Athens but did not return to school.  Bill was doing his Co-op in Dayton at Wright Field and wrote to tell her that the R & D (Research & Development) Department badly  needed secretaries and that she could get a job there.  Harold and Flora drove her to Dayton where she lived in a Girls' Residence and worked at Wright Field. They decided not have a long engagement so in November Bill Johnston & Mary Pierce took a city bus to the county courthouse and were married by a Justice of the Peace.  It was November 16, 1946 and so began a union that produced 4 children(Kristie, Bill III, Frank & Heidi) and led to 8 grandchildren (Alex, Taylor, Sean, Fiona, Maggie, Liam, Colin & Brendan).   This year they celebrate 66 years of marital bliss.  And they are still crazy in love.  Is it any wonder why this writer is such a hopeless romantic?
July 9, 1962

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Junior Birdman

My daddy 2010 
Up in the air junior birdman
Up in the air upside down
Up in the air junior birdman
Keep your noses off the ground

My father, William Otis Johnston, Jr., worked as an Aeronautical & Aerospace Engineer when I was growing up.  He has always loved everything about planes.  He learned how to fly after he got out of the Army in 1942 when he was 18.  After he married my mother he flew her to the Indianapolis 500 twice.  She threw up.  He also flew with my 2 oldest siblings, Bill & Kristie when they were small.  My mother threw up again.    My brother, Frank & I, never had the thrill of riding with my dad, something I now regret. He quit flying in 1953 because my mom never got acclimated to the cabin pressure and he didn't want to do it without her.  He loved her so much he gave up the one thing he wanted to be with her.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Most of the gifts my dad received through the years were airplane related.  Pins, models, pictures, calendars even ties and tie-clips.  He would look up each time a plane would fly overheard and identify it within seconds.  He was amazing.  I was in awe of him growing up.  He could do anything.  A real giant to me.  Well, until I became a teenager, then he became my personal ATM.  As I have aged and especially after my parents moved here, I have begun to look back with different eyes.  I see the man that he was not only as I see him now.  A man who knew what it meant to sacrifice his own needs for the greater good of the family.  I have to remind myself that that is the real man not the one who drives me nuts today.

Bill started his career at Curtis-Wright in Dayton, Ohio while he was a student at the University of Cincinnati.  He began school at the University of Tennessee, but transferred to UC to take advantage of their engineering program that allowed for Co-op, a work study program.  Every other semester he would work in his field balanced with school in between.  In his last year of school, he received an offer to work at Curtis-Wright full time and he decided to drop out of school to work.  One of his many regrets in life, dropping out with 1 semester left before graduation.  (Several years ago I sent an e-mail to the Dean of the Engineering school to inquire about my father obtaining his degree using his work experience for his last credits.  I've never received an answer.)

From Curtis-Wright he went to North American (now Rockwell) in Columbus.  Through the next several decades he worked in Georgia, Maryland and Connecticut.  And although he never flew after 1953, his love of planes and anything aeronautical never waned.  So it was not too surprising when he arranged to go on an airplane ride in the Spring of 2010.  Not just any airplane ride, though, it was a ride on a vintage Stearman bi-plane, you know the kind you see in old movies with the open cockpits?  I haven't seen my father that excited before about anything, or since.  He was downright giddy and folks, my dad doesn't do giddy!  Steve took him up to Canton and my son, Alex, went with them.

They arrived on a clear Saturday morning in May.  Perfect flying conditions.  The hangar had Big Band music playng and the pilot handed my dad a headset so that they could communicate during the flight.  Because he is so unsteady he needed help getting into the Stearman, but once he was in he was in his element and ready to go.  Back at the house, my daughter, Taylor and I took my mother outside to the front driveway to sit.  The pilot flew the plane overhead and wagged the wings.  It was so thrilling!  When his hour flight was over and my dad was back on terra firma, he turned to my son and said, "You're next!"  Alex bounded over to the plane and took the ride of his life.  Steve followed.  When my dad came home he had a spring in his step that wasn't there earlier.  He was still floating in the clouds a month later when he arranged for Taylor and I to go up together on Father's Day.  We flew over Downtown Atlanta, Stone Mountain and Doraville.  It was great.

My dad has since been diagnosed with a strain of leukemia and continues to be quite shaky.  His days of flying are most definitely over, but for that one brief shining moment 2 years ago, he flew high and felt no pain.  What I take from this story is that we need to see people as they were in their prime.  That is who they were.  That is who they still are.  Just hidden beneath years of disappointment, sacrifice and the preconceived notions of others.  No matter where you've been or how little you think you are, everyone has a story to tell.  I never believed that until I started writing.

Friday, June 1, 2012

....huh? What?

As long as I can remember, my mother has had trouble hearing.  Her hearing loss was a result of a childhood bout of Scarlet Fever. We managed to deal with the issue without much trouble, but in the last few years, the hearing loss has become more of a bone of contention between the family and my mother.  She refused from first mention to get tested for a hearing aid.  Always stating that she didn't like things in her ears.  She was quite adamant about it, too.  She did have a hearing test some years ago, but that's as far as it went.  Once my parents moved here, though, the issue became quite urgent and we almost felt as if an intervention was necessary to fix this problem.

When I was growing up, we yelled a lot at my house.  There were 4 kids in the family, so yelling was normal for us.  With 6 people in the house, sometimes it took yelling to be noticed or heard over the din created by 6 people.  Someone took something, someone got in someone's way, someone ate the last of something or drank the last bottle of something or someone breathed wrong.  Yeah, 4 kids within a 10 year period?  There was definitely a lot of yelling, especially when the kids became rebellious teenagers.
In contrast, Steve, my husband, grew up with 1 sibling who was much younger and didn't pose much conflict.  As a result,  Steve doesn't like yelling.  When we were first married, I yelled at any given moment, I even laughed loud.  It really was obnoxious.  Looking back I wonder how we managed to stay together this long.  So imagine his chagrin upon learning that yelling was the solution chosen to deal with my mother's increasing hearing loss.   After they arrived here in 2009, it became quite evident that the hearing was worse and our only option was even more yelling.  I cringed every time someone had to yell to respond to my mom because I knew Steve hated it.  It seemed as if it got worse by leaps and bounds and I knew that something would have to be done about it.

Hearing loss is never funny, but situations created by hearing loss can be hilarious.  Especially when the words spoken are not the words heard.
"Mom, I'll do that in a while."  "Whose crocodile?"
"Mom, do you want a Klondike Bar?"  "No, I don't want a corndog!"
"Mom, do you want some water?" "Salt?, why do I need salt?"
"Mom, Frank said he took the kids somewhere."  "Aren't they going out?"
"Mom, Fiona is with Sean"  "What's the matter now?  Sibling rivalry?"
"Merry Christmas!"  "How's business?"
And on and on.  It became a comedy of errors around here. For 2 1/2 years we went through this charade of yelling in order to be heard and her misunderstanding what we were saying.  At one point, she actually complained that we were always yelling at her!!  I said, "We are yelling because you won't get a hearing aid!"   I told her that enough was enough and that I was arranging a hearing test for her. In addition to her objection with having something in her ear, she also cited that they cost too much and that she didn't think it was necessary and she didn't want to travel to do it.  I ignored her.  I called Beltone and set up a consultation to take place in our home the following week.  She definitely has a significant hearing loss in her right ear and not as much in the left ear.  The rep from Beltone suggested getting an aid for just the left ear since it would be covered completely by insurance.  The aid itself was transparent as well as small, so her objections were invalidated.  She does wear it and I think she was relieved to get it.  The house is much quieter.  She complains on occasion that the TV is too loud, music to my ears!  She still hasn't mastered putting it on by herself, but I can live with that.