I am a Listener

Photo by Bill Scala  

No listener lacks a filter. Geography and family shape the filter through which I interpret all that I hear. I am Texas-born, New England-raised, Virginia-educated and California-liberated.

I was Grampy's pal and possibly Grammy's favorite. I was Dad's passenger on trips to the dump, Moe Black's Hardware Store, Lexington Gardens and Harvard Square. Mom's companion on any sandy beach and a repository for many of her thoughts, feelings and concerns. Fetcher of golf balls for brother Nick … and glasses of root beer up two flights of stairs. Hair-brusher and baby sister to Margo whose first car was a used ambulance and the second, a 1937 Packard.

If alcohol and addiction were like third and fourth siblings, then medical emergencies were like family pets who got under foot too often. By the time I was in high school, every member of my family, including my maternal grandmother and grandfather, had nearly died: a head-on collision with a truck, a ruptured ovarian cyst, a benign tumor that almost blocked the airway in the throat, near-suffocation from croup, heart attack, a life-threatening blood clot, and a few other major car accidents. Broken body parts, almost sawed-off fingers, and complicated oral surgery kept things interesting, too. It seems no mere coincidence that 4/5th's of my immediate family pursued emotional or medical caregiving in their careers. Listening or attending to a rundown of symptoms or complaints was second-nature.

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Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •