The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

August 12, 2012

MICHELE BENDER | Taking a dip in the gene pool

— My decomposition continues. In June, I became the proud owner of a hearing aid.

Not that I didn’t see this one coming.

Some folks proudly tout legacies from their gene pool … intelligence, height, athletic prowess. Apparently, I emerged from a septic tank.

If there’s an ailment, disease or disability out there, one of my ancestors had it and generously passed it on.

I’ve never written about my Uncle Red, Mom’s brother, because there’s nothing good to say about him. Words like jerk, oaf and warped just don’t do it.

This is a guy who removed his dentures to eat because food made them dirty.

A diabetic, Red refused to follow diet rules or take meds regularly. The disease finally did him in.

Meticulous foot care is vital for diabetics. It was my job to haul Red to the podiatrist every other month.

We went through a lot of doctors.

One afternoon, at another new office, a nurse approached us in the waiting area. “Mr. M., please have a seat in Room 3 and remove your shoes and socks.”

Red continued to thumb through a Sports Illustrated.

“He doesn’t hear,” I explained. “Do you want me to tell him for you?”

“Please,” she replied.

At the same moment she asked, “Are you going to do ‘sign’?” I smacked him on his arm, pointed one hand and held up three fingers

with the other, and bellowed, “Red, go get ready!”

I suspect everyone who was there is still laughing.

Now, Aunt Sis, my deaf relative on my dad’s side, used her hearing aids and read lips.

I can do that, too, to an extent. When other drivers mouth epithets on the highway, I generally get their drift.

Sis’ handicap was discovered when she was in seventh grade at Garfield and the school nurse administered an audiology exam.

Gigantic Beltones powered by 12 horsepower Black and Decker motors didn’t help enough.

We stood in line one morning at Rite Aid, waiting for a prescription, when Sis’ piece began to whistle. Loudly.

The other customers paused and stared. The pharmacy staff peered over the partition, searching for the source of the piercing sound.

Sis remained oblivious.

The clerk handed Sis her bag. “What’s that noise?”

Sometimes, my evil twin possesses me. The devil makes me do it.

“What noise?” I inquired innocently, tapping Sis on the shoulder. “Do you hear something?”

“No,” she replied, “I don’t hear anything.”

“Neither do I,” I agreed.

The two of us gawked at the crowd as if they were all crazy. Then we left.

I plan to make the most of my life in spite of handicaps. I want to slide into home plate on my Judgment Day, smile up at St. Peter and gasp, “Whew! What a ride!”

I encourage all to do the same. 

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Michele Bender
  • Michele Bender Licorice lends a paw

    I bet you expected to find Michele Bender’s column here today.
    She just came home from the hospital. She’s doing fine but resting, so I thought I’d lend a paw.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele Those oldies, but goodies

    Twice yearly Hollywood marches out a platoon of war movies.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Living life out loud

    “If I make it to Medicare,” I declared, “I’m going to throw a party people will not forget! It’ll be something no one’s ever done!”
    Well, I made it to 65.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watch the stars come out

    Every spring, I catch drive-in movie fever. We are blessed to have three outdoor theaters in a 30-mile radius. Movies under the stars … heavenly!

    May 3, 2014

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | Whisper sweet nothings in my ear

    “Your call is very important to us,” growled the crabby lady at the utility company. “Please wait for the next available representative.”

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele MICHELE M. BENDER | Sock it to me


    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | What happened to Christmas?

    Headaches rarely bother me. I always felt sorry for folks trapped in the Advil/Dristan web.
    I woke up at 4 a.m. Dec 17 with a headache that probably registered on a Richter scale. (People in New Zealand experienced aftershocks.)

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG Judge Judy’s tough in any language

    In her relentless effort to “correct and serve,” Judge Judy Scheindlin is “on the road” promoting her new program, “Hot Bench.”

    February 8, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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