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Friday, December 19, 2014

“IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, DEAR!”  - this is what my mother exclaimed, when I picked up the phone recently.  “Your father’s hearing has been restored!”  My father’s hearing, or lack thereof, has always been at the forefront of our lives.  He has always had diminished hearing because of his time in the U.S. Navy, during the Vietnam War, from “shooting the cannons.”  When I saw quite young, I somehow got the Navy and the Circus mixed up.  This is because in the cartoons, people were always getting shot out of a circus cannon and I somehow came to  believe that this is what had caused my father to be partially deaf in one ear.


My father has always been hard of hearing in his right ear.  My mother became hard of hearing, sometime in my twenties, in her left ear.  This I discovered when I was home for the holidays one year.  I was upstate from my lawyer job in NYC.  I sat in what has came to be known as the “No Man’s Land,” that is, right in between my parents’ respective hearing-challenged ears.  I chattered on for about 20 minutes about how I had just won my jury trial, all the investigation I had done, how the family had come up and hugged me and put me on their shoulders until the court officers made them put me down, what a triumphant moment it had been.  That’s when my father turned to me and said, “Did you say something?”  Right at the same moment. my mother said, “Isn’t the River pretty today?”  I was momentarily stunned into silence.  “So neither one of you heard my story?” I said.

“What story?”  they both said at the same time.  And that is another winsome trait of my parents.  They often will talk to you at the exact same time.  They are not trying to talk over each other, they just don’t hear the other person.  And so I began the process of regularly checking during storytelling to see if they could hear me.  Making consistent eye contact became something else I mentally added to my Art of Storytelling toolbox.  Because if you think I enjoy telling a story in blog format, you have no idea how much I enjoy telling a story to a live audience.  It’s an occupational hazard, I guess.

But recently my father’s hearing had been getting much worse, and I thought maybe this is it, he’s finally going deaf.   I begged him to go see an ENT but he refused.  Because he felt deafness was his fate.

So I will have to tell the story of the U.S.S. Thresher, a nuclear powered Naval attack submarine.  My father and several other sailors who had joined the US Navy in the Philippines, signed up to serve on submarine duty.  There was extra pay involved, and this is what attracted my dad.  Lolo was turned down, because you needed perfect hearing and, thanks to the cannons, he no longer had perfect hearing.  His buddies did make it and they all went on to serve on the USS Thresher.  In May of 1963, the USS Thresher imploded at sea, taking the lives of all 129 men on board, most of them sailors.   How is it, that one small thing like failing a hearing test means that Lolo was able to go on and live his life, to marry and have two children, one of whom is writing this Blog?  It’s yet another chapter in the book that was my childhood, which would be titled something like, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and If You Had gone through What We Went Through, It’s All Small Stuff.

My father has always felt that, since he would otherwise have been on board the USS Thresher, his “bad hearing” saved his life.  And therefore, he has never wanted a hearing aid or to improve his hearing, somehow the whole hard of hearing thing has been a blessing for him.  And so going to see an ENT was out of the question.

     But, as we all know, the tag-teaming of a nagging wife and a nagging adult daughter is a force to be reckoned with.  And therefore, my father gave in and went to see an ENT recently.  Who cleaned Lolo's ears out and, lo and behold, he has been restored to the same hearing he has always had.   Hence, the phone call from my Mom.

“So the Christmas miracle is that the ENT took the wax out of dad’s ears?” I queried.

“No, dear,” said my mom, “the Christmas miracle is that your father listened to me, and to you, and wanted to get better.  So he could hear Michael sing at the Christmas concert.”

Lolo has never forgotten the men of the USS Thresher, and neither have I.  There is a link at the end of the Blog for more information, as well as a listing of the names of the men on board who made the ultimate sacrifice.

And so I have given you one more reason to Count Your Blessings.  DO have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Joyous Kwanzaa, everyone.  DO remember to Count your Blessings; appreciate each other and our loved ones in all their flawed glory.  Don’t worry about burning the turkey or getting all the right presents, just be thankful the Good Lord has seen fit to give you another Christmas -- and remember the reason for the season <3 Mrs. Lo.  For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit www.LoBiondo.org.  For more info on the USS Thresher, go to:  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/k19/disasters_detail2.html

Photo:  Lolo, Lola, and Family, Christmas 2013

Note:  Last year, 2013, was the 50th Anniversary of the loss of the USS Thresher.  Take a moment to look at the names of those who lost their lives, and say a prayer for them:
Personnel Who Perished in the Loss of Thresher on 10 April 1963
Ship's Company
Arsenault, Tilmon J., ENCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Babcock, Ronald C., LTJG, USN.
Bain, Ronald E., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Bell, John E., MMI-P2, USN.
Bobbitt, Edgar S., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Boster, Gerald C., EM3 (SS)-P1, USN.
Bracey, George (n), 5D3 (SS), USN.
Brann, Richard P., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Carkoski, Richard 3., EN2 (SS), USN.
Carmody, Patrick W., 5K2, USN.
Cayey, Steven G., TM2 (SS), USN.
Christiansen, Edward (n), SN (SS), USN.
Claussen, Larry W., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Clements, Thomas E., ETR3 (SS), USN.
Collier, Merrill F., LT, USN.
Cummings, Francis M., SOS2 (SS), USN.
Dabruzzi, Samuel J., ETN2 (SS), USN.
Davison, Clyde E., III, ETR3-P1, USN.
Day, Donald C., EN3 (SS), USN.
Denny, Roy O., Jr., EM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Di Nola, Michael 3., LCDR, USN.
DiBella, Peter J., SN, USN.
Dundas, Don R., ETN2 (SS), USN.
Dyer, Troy E., ET1 (SS)-P1, USN.
Forni, Ellwood H., SOCA (SS)-P1, USN.
Foti, Raymond P., ET1 (SS), USN.
Freeman, Larry W., FTM2 (SS), USN.
Fusco, Gregory J., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Gallant, Andrew J., Jr., HMC (SS), USN.
Garcia, Napoleon T., SD1 (SS), USN.
Garner, John E., YNSN (SS), USN.
Garner, Pat M., LCDR, USN.
Gaynor, Robert W., EN2 (SS), USN.
Gosnell, Robert H., SA (SS), USNR.
Grafton, John G., LTJG, USN.
Graham, William E., SOC (SS)-Pl, USN.
Gunter, Aaron J., QM1 (SS), USN.
Hall, Richard C., ETR2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Harvey, John W., LCDR, USN. (Commanding Officer of Thresher)
Hayes, Norman T., EM1-P1, USN.
Heiser, Laird G., MM1-P2, USN.
Helsius, Marvin T., MM2, USN.
Henry, James J., Jr., LTJG, USN.
Hewitt, Leonard H., EMCA (SS), USN.
Hoague Joseph H., TM2 (SS), USN.
Hodge, James P., EM2, USN.
Hudson. John F., EN2 (SS), USN.
Inglis, John P., FN, USNR.
Johnson Edward A., ENCA (SS), USN.
Johnson, Richard L., RMSA, USN.
Johnson, Robert E., TMC (SS)-P1, USN.
Johnson, Thomas B., ET1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Johnson. Brawner G., FTG1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Jones, Richard W., EM2 (SS), USN.
Kaluza, Edmund J., Jr., SOS2 (SS)-P1, USN.
Kantz, Thomas C., ETR2 (SS), USN.
Kearney, Robert D., MM3, USN.
Keiler, Ronald D., IC2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Kiesecker, George J., MM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Klier, Billy M., EN1 (SS) P2, USN.
Kroner, George R., CS3, USN.
Lanouette, Norman G., QM1 (SS), USN.
Lavoie, Wayne W., YN1 (SS), USN.
Lyman, John S., Jr., LCDR, USN.
Mabry, Templeman N., Jr., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Malinski, Frank J., LTJG, USN.
Mann, Richard H., Jr., IC2 (SS), USN.
Marullo, Julius F., Jr., QM1 (SS), USN.
McClelland, Douglas R., EM2 (SS), USN.
McCord, Donald J., MM1 (SS)-P2 USN.
McDonough, Karl P., TM3 (SS), USN.
Middleton, Sidney L., MM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Muise, Ronald A., CS2, USN.
Musselwliite, James A., ETN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Nault, Donald E., CS1 (SS), USN.
Noonis, Walter J., RMC (SS), USN.
Norris, John D., ET1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Oetting. Chesley C., EM2-P2, USN.
Parsons, Guy C., Jr., LTJG, USN.
Pennington, Roscoe C., EMCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Peters, James G., EMCS-P2. USN.
Phillippi. James F., SOS2 (SS), USN.
Philput. Dan A., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Podwell, Richard (n), MM2-P2, USN.
Regan, John S., MM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Ritchie, James P., RM2, USN.
Robison, Pervis (n), Jr., SN, USN.
Rountree, Glenn A., QM2 (SS), USN.
Rushetski, Anthony A., ETN2, USN.
Schiewe, James M., EM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Shafer, Benjamin N., EMCM (SS)-P2, USN.
Shafer, John D., EMCS (SS)-P2, USN.
Shimko, Joseph T., MM1-P2, USN.
Shotwell, Burnett M., ETRSN, USN.
Sinnett. Alan D., FTG2 (SS),USN.
Smarz, John (n), Jr., LT, USN.
Smith, William H., Jr., BT1-P2, USN.
Snider, James L., MM1, USN.
Solomon, Ronald H., EM1-P2, USN.
Steinel, Robert E., SO1 (SS)-P1, USN.
Van Pelt, Rodger E., IC1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Walski, Joseph A., RMl (55)-P1, USN.
Wasel, David A., RMSN, USN.
Wiggins, Charles L., FTG1-P2, USN.
Wiley, John J., LTJG, USN.
Wise, Donald E., MMCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Wolfe, Ronald E., QMSN (SS),USN.
Zweifel, Jay H., EM2-P1, USN.
Personnel Other Than Ship's Company
Abrams, Fred P., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Allen, Philip H., LCDR, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Beal, Daniel W., Jr., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Biederman, Robert D., LT, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Billings, John H., LCDR, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Charron, Robert E., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Corcoran, Kenneth R., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Critchley, Kenneth J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Currier, Paul C., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Des Jardins, Richard R., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval
Dineen, George J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Fisher, Richard K., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Guerette, Paul A., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Jaquay, Maurice F., Contractor's Representative, Raytheon Corp.
Keuster, Donald W.,  Naval Ordnance Laboratory
Krag, Robert L., LCDR, USN, Staff, Deputy Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Moreau, Henry C., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Palmer, Franklin J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Prescott, Robert D., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Shipyard.
Stadtmuller, Donald T., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Whitten, Laurence E., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.