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Sunday, December 22, 2013

The End of an Era

Those of you who know me well, might want to read this post sitting down. Then take care not to fall off your chair.

For others, let me fill you in on some background material.

I, personally, have not owned a television set for nearly 30 years. TV-less by choice, I called it. And I was hard core, a proud member of the 1% of Americans who ban television from their homes--often lending my dog-eared copy of Jerry Mander's book, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television out to would-be converts. That book delves deeply into the psycho-social effects of television on individuals and society as a whole. The author describes the conscious state a person enters into while watching television as a state of "wakeful dreaming" that is close to hypnotism.  My own personal belief was that TV was not only a big time waster, but a brain numbing addiction, a social isolator and a way to miss out on "real life".

When Bob moved in with me in 1994, he owned a television set. I told him, in no uncertain terms, would I allow it in my apartment. We argued. I think that was our first argument. Then, we compromised. He could be bring the TV if he put it in the closet.

Which he did. Then after a few months of learning to live without television, he sold it.

People used to ask us all the time, what on earth did we do if we didn't watch TV? When we told them we talked to each other, that our nightly ritual was to sit out on our front porch and just talk, people asked, "What on earth do you talk about after 15 years of marriage?"

Well, we talked about everything. How our day how gone. The weather. The neighborhood gossip. The news in the newspaper. My writing. His art. Books we were reading. We talked about absolutely everything.

Then about 4 years ago, Bob came home from a neighborhood garage sale carrying an old TV set and a DVD player. I nearly dropped my jaw. What are you doing with that thing?!  I asked him.  He told me he had bought it for $5.00 and wanted to put it in the back bedroom which he used for his office. Don't worry, he told me, it wouldn't be connected to cable or an antennae, and we'd only use it on special occasions to watch a movie on a rental DVD.

Then, three years ago: the stroke and aphasia. And the end of our nightly conversations...

Before Bob came home from the hospital, I had my dad and my uncle help me re-arrange the living room. Out went the Victorian parlor set, to make room for Bob's hospital bed. In came that TV set and DVD player and the 1940's sofa from Bob's office...

Since then we've watched a lot DVD's. I would run every week to the library where one can check out DVD's for seven days for free. After three years of this, I do believe, we've seen every movie on the shelf -- some of them twice. And that old television set was on it's last legs...

The sad thing was, that, when a DVD wasn't playing or I wasn't available to occupy him with some task or therapy, Bob was pretty much lying in his hospital bed staring at the ceiling and fixating on his pain...

So for Christmas, I broke down. And, with the help of Santa Claus, bought a 32 inch HD flat screen Panasonic television set. Then hooked the whole thing up DISH satellite's cheapest plan. And I still can't believe I've done that. And I'm still trying to figure out how the thing works. And I hope I can pay the monthly bill!

I am still no fan of television, which I find extremely distracting and addictive, and I know this is going to take some getting used to, on my part. Even right now, while I write this, Bob is watching a movie and the sound of it keeps interrupting my train of thought. I tell you, it's hard to blog with the television blaring in the background!

It's also hard to admit that our lives have changed so much since this stroke. And to admit a bit of acceptance of the fact that our lives will never return to the way it used to be.

So we've joined the 99% of Americans who have network television in their homes. Make that 99.1%!


Barbpolan said...

Congratulations on staying TV-free for so long. My husband and I lasted about 10 years, but got lots of pressure from our son (then 4) to be able to watch Disney movies (Robin Hood was his favorite), Which he was exposed to at daycare. While all of us know of people who keep their TVs on constantly - to keep them from being lonely or just as background noise, we use ours for only football games and movies (via Amazon Prime). No cable or anything but an antenna for over-the-air broadcasts). And news during disasters. We may watch some Olympics.
Sometimes breaking down and using it selectively, like the Internet, is still staying true to your commitment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dianne, Trudy here:) Well Merry Christmas. About time you splured on something that you can use right? We moved to the country, from the city, in 1994. We too decided no tv, well at least no cable. So we put the tv into the basement and it was too cold and dungeon-like down there, so we never turned it on. However, when my husband was diagnosed with his brain tumor and all he could do was sit then later was bed-bound I broke down also. I got a satelite so he could listen to the sports programs. His eyesight was getting worse day-by-day, but it gave him encouragement when on good days he could see shadows. We do what we have to right? And when we are still able to get up, move around, go for a walk, drive, to the bathroom even, our spouses can't. You are such a sweet, caring and loving wife to put your wants/thoughts/way of doing things on the back burner to give anything and everything to Bob. May you have a beautiful Christmas and watch alot of old Christmas shows that make us cry :) Take care Trudy

Stephany Harvey said...

When my husband and I were in grad school, we had no tv. We did fine for a couple of years until my parents visited, and insisted that they would provide one for us. To this day, I prefer to watch only recorded shows and movies, because I am baffled by what passes for entertainment or news. But now, while my guy recovers from his stroke, I nearly cry when TV finally engages his attention.

Jenn said...

LOL. Put on the Animal shows....see how your furry friends entertain you! Ya never just might help Bob's aphasia?

Anonymous said...

If Dish Network turns out to be too expensive for you, try a simple HD antenna. ($25-$40) You should be able to pick up 10-20 local stations for free with that. Also consider Netflix for $8/mo for streaming video movies and TV shows. You'll need a good wifi internet service for that, but well worth the $8/mo.

I applaud your desire for no TV in the house, but understand the need for that extra entertainment for Bob to keep his mind off his pain.

Merry Christmas with hugs & prayers. Dan