The Sound of Silence

07/01/2022 12:01 AM By Lisa Anderson
Breaking Social Norms
Jay Marty Hernandez
Jay Marty Hernandez
Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson

The Sound of Silence

Entrepreneur Credits Hearing Loss with His Success

“Imagine being locked in a closet, no lights, and you can’t hear. That’s how I felt all of the time,” describes Jay Marty Hernandez. He was just 13 years old when he woke up, and his world had gone silent.

Jay grew up in the Bronx with his single mother, who worked hard to provide for her family. The morning he woke unable to hear, no one believed him. Ultimately, it was his mother who trusted him and became the person he leaned on the most. “I was fortunate enough to have the mom that I have. Looking back, now, this is where manifestations started from, because my mom was planting these seeds. She would literally write down notes, ‘If I could give you my ears, I would.’ To this day, that stuck with me so much. My mom kept me strong.”

Two Worlds

Jay lost his hearing at the end of fifth grade. He spent the summer going to doctor’s visits and working at the restaurant his mother managed, so she could keep him close by. Doctors were concerned his current Bell’s Palsy could be the cause of his hearing loss, but he also had meningitis as a baby. The cause was not determined. 

After six months in his new world, Jay was placed in a school for the deaf as a seventh grader, skipping the sixth grade due to high test scores. However, Jay felt lost and having grown up in the Projects, he tended to be judgmental toward those who were different, including himself. “I felt like I couldn’t fit in. They tried. They put in effort,” he says.

When he began to lose his speech after the first year, Jay was placed back into public school. He was caught between the hearing world and the deaf and hearing-impaired world. He often felt alone and isolated in a room full of people. He was able to have full conversations with a couple of his friends, who learned how to talk so Jay could easily read their lips, but the rest of his world was observed through vibration and sight.

“For a long time, I thought it was wrong or a wrong path that I could have taken or a curse, but it was the best thing that happened to me because it created the person that I am today.”

Moving Forward

At 15 years old, Jay received a cochlear implant, and the first time he heard sound, he threw it off. He knew what things were supposed to sound like, but what was coming through the implant were robotic noises. He finally put it back on later that day, and made his first phone call in two years. 

The two years of silence was difficult for Jay, to say the least, and he questioned himself, God, and life over the reasons why this was happening to him. He kept his hair long for 15 years to simply cover the implant.

“I needed to go through those trials and tribulations. I needed to seek within, but it took a long time doing that,” he states.

His season of trials wasn’t over immediately upon hearing, though. At 16, Jay became a father. Determined not to raise his son in the Bronx, he and his son’s mother moved to Miami. Jay worked hard to provide for his family, but after a couple of years, the couple broke up and there was a period of time where he was without his son.

Feeling broken, but not beat, Jay moved to Tampa where he slept on a family member’s couch for nearly a year, while he saved enough money to get his own place and get his son back. 

In 2020, now living in Ocala, Jay started a mobile detailing service. “I studied [marketing and branding for] a year on YouTube. I’m a perfectionist.”

It paid off. In less than a year, during a pandemic, Jay grew his business to six figures, and he did what most entrepreneurs only dream about: manage the business instead of working the business.

Jay is now focusing on building his video podcasts, which help tell the stories of individuals here in Ocala. “I always thought I was afraid of losing or failing. No, I’m afraid of the unknown.”
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Lisa Anderson