Monday, September 9, 2013

Because She Believed In Me (short story) (part 2)

Four years ago, in 2009,  I was thrilled when my short story Because She Believed In Me was published in Island Writer magazine:  the literary journal of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. 
Last Monday I shared part one of this story. You can find it here.
This Monday I'll share part two...

At home, away from my classmates' prying eyes, sheltered in my mother's arms, I cry. I don't tell her why.

"Sh-h-h, honey." She tries to comfort me. "Things will get better."

I don't believe her.

One day she tells me, "The teacher says you need special help." She can't hide the disappointment in her eyes.

Recess is no longer a time to run and play--no, not for me. Instead, my "special" teacher and I are squirreled away in the only available classroom--the kindergarten room. There on miniature brightly painted furniture I struggle to catch up.

Catch up, become normal. I wonder if this is possible.

My classmates know.

"Baby, retard," they label me.

And I believe them.

"I can't" and "help me" become my most used phrases.

Despite the opinions of some educators and social workers, my parents continue to believe in the soundness of my intellect. Their challenge is to reveal it to me.

My mother attempts to teach me to cook, to back, to sew, to knit. I greet each invitation with a roar. "No! I can't! I'm too stupid!"

"I can teach her," my grandma says. "I can reach her."

My grandma says, "With tender care, among the thorns grows a rose."

My grandma is a sorceress. She works her magic on everything from seeds to flour to yarn. She chooses me as beneficiary of the secrets of her craft.

Visiting with my grandma is a treat. I love to sit beside her as she spins her magic.

When she begins to teach me to knit, I want to throw the needles, I want to storm away but I can't. I can't act that way in front of Grandma. I have to try.

One tentative stitch leads to others. My inner critical voice slowly begins to be silenced by her kind encouraging words --"You catch on so fast! Your stitches are so even! You're finished already?!"

I am empty -- she fills me.

She teaches me the knitting basics. I learn to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. I knit a square. I knit more squares and make a doll's blanket.

I am so proud.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm not stupid.


One day, my mother asks, "Why don't you join the new 4-H knitting group?"

"I can't..." I begin.

"Grandma would be so pleased to hear that you are continuing to learn to knit," she says, gently pushing.


Organized through the school, the first day of 4-H, our regular classrooms take on new purposes. The grade eight room becomes the sewing room. The grade nine room is set aside for knitting. I creep in.

A gang of teenagers confronts me. "What are you doing here? You're too young to learn to knit! Knitting is for teenagers!"

Meekly, I reveal my knitting sample.

"You knit that?" they ask, amazed.

Thanks to Grandma's lessons, I earn my membership in this important group. Through the group, I develop friendships and for the first time in my life, I feel like I belong.

The 4-H year concludes with Achievement Day. It is a day to gain recognition for our new skill. First, second and third prize ribbons are distributed. That first year of 4-H, I am thrilled to discover a first prize ribbon placed beside my garter-stitch scarf and stitch samples.

I am proud to report that the achievements I made in knitting eventually translate into academics and I graduate from High School with an award in Language Arts. After High School, I earn high marks in university English classes. And most recently, I have published a mystery novel--Maynely a Mystery.

It is no mystery what the genesis was for these achievements. I owe it all to my grandma.

Note to self:  Join the Women's Fiction Writers Association--today
The Women's Fiction Writers Association is an association for women who write women's fiction.
Next Monday:  Something Good to Eat (short story) published in Icelandic Connection
This Thursday:  I rave about In Calamity's Wake by Natalee Caple
This Friday:  You'll get to meet the author of In Calamity's Wake when Natalee Caple visits


Pat Amsden said...


I am so glad you had your grandmother to encourage you. Your success in school undoubtedly made it easier for the next generation of children with dyslexia(my son)although it was still difficult.

But he was told from grade one that although he had difficulty with reading he was extremely intelligent (tested by school psychologist)and given help both through the school, at home and by tutors.

He hasn't shown any inclination to write a book so far but he was instrumental in getting me to publish my first ebook and my new ones, designing the covers and formatting the books. He's also my web page designer.

In about a week he'll start a two year course through Camosun as a Computer - something (whatever CPST stands for). He takes for granted that he's smart although he does have some learning disabilites.

But it is still hard to deal with the school and school system for parents I believe. While there are many like my son who do get the help they need I worry that there are many more who don't.

Laurie Buchanan said...

We would all do well to emulate your wonderful grandma!

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Pat. And I wish your son much success. The key is to find the area to excel in and it sounds like your son has done that.

The qualities that dyslexia bestows differ from person to person. But dyslexia isn't temporary and it isn't a limitation. I, now, know it is a gift.

Much more is done now to help dyslexics through the school system--but more needs to be done before, during and after.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Laurie.

Oh, yup, we would. And though it's not easy, I'm trying.