Happy to hear ‘the darndest things’

Liz McDevitt and her husband , Larry, spend a lot of time laughing and enjoying life. Liz is an artist and writer, and Larry restores vintage cars. (Joan Cronk/Senior Scene)
Liz McDevitt and her husband , Larry, spend a lot of time laughing and enjoying life. Liz is an artist and writer, and Larry restores vintage cars. (Joan Cronk/Senior Scene)
One doesn’t have to be around Liz and Larry McDevitt very long to understand that the couple, married 56 years, are a great team.
They treat each other with respect, finish each other’s sentences and spend a lot of time laughing.
Liz retired due to her hearing loss after serving for 10 years as the director of the Salvation Army Senior Center.
She suffered from childhood illnesses that could have resulted in her hearing loss, and it wasn’t until she was 35 years old when she had a hearing test that her hearing loss was diagnosed.
“The testing wasn’t very sophisticated and we had a lot of vanity in those days about wearing a hearing aid, but it was so neat to hear things. A flushing toilet sounded like Niagara Falls,” she said.
Larry, who is also involved in a number of projects, including restoring old cars, was glad she could hear better, too.
“I just thought she was ignoring me,” he joked as he showed off the 1948 Dodge truck he restored himself.
Retiring is a word Liz uses loosely, because she is extremely involved in a number of activities. She is an accomplished artist who paints wildlife, tugboats, portraits and still life, and belongs to Pacific Gallery Artists. She appears in juried shows, publishes Pacific Gallery Artists’ newsletter, and is working on her online book called “Folks Hear the Darndest Things,” which can be viewed at www.folkshearthedarnedestthings.com. Liz posts one quip every week, and as of now there are no archives to past posts. “I’m working on that,” she said.
Following are some questions posed to Liz about her new book and her busy life.

What is your book about?

It is about hearing loss, but it is also regarding people that have good hearing that can end up having selective hearing. It depends on the person’s voice, the tone of your voice. ‘I can hear you, but I don’t understand you.’

Where did you come up with the idea for your book?

I’ve been working on it for about 20 years. I want to direct people to other avenues of support and to see the humor of our disabilities. (For support, Liz attends TACID’s hearing loss group in Tacoma.) One lady said she was disabled in her ears, but not disabled all over. Larry’s hearing is so good he can hear a mouse peeing on a blotter. You just have to find the humor in it. I was losing my incentive, money and time – I am 74 years old – and didn’t want to let my family and friends down who have been so faithful sending quips. But the Lord’s answer came. I got to thinking about my art league’s web site and thought why not?

Why did you decide to do it online versus a printed book?

Our daughter, Leeann, bought a five-years domain site for my birthday. She spent two hours setting it up and this was the answer to my prayer, giving me incentive, but challenging, too.

How long did it take you to write it?

It is an ongoing project. It took me 20 years to get the first word down. People are sending me little funny stories, especially couples.

What is the saddest story?

Sweet nothings that Larry said and I didn’t hear.

What do you hope people get out of reading your book?

Develop a sense of humor! Don’t get mad if someone doesn’t understand, because sometimes you can understand and other times you can draw a blank. Hearing aids are not always the answer. Habits have been developed over the years, just trying to survive, especially not knowing you have hearing loss. Teachers today recognize in children when hearing should be tested. I learned early on to read lips.

What should people know about hearing loss?

Folks need to understand it is a disability and we are not disabled all over. Even folks with good hearing need to be educated. We can’t always understand what is being said, but don’t shut out folks. They will become reclusive, be quiet in gatherings, struggle to hear or misinterpret what is said in conversation. Don’t yell. Be patient. Technology is making so many advances, so there is hope for those with hearing loss to get back into life.