'Just me and them in a room with no visible escape route for two hours and twenty minutes. Every week for thirteen weeks.' Workshop is protagonist Samantha Heather Mackey's personal hell.
Sunday, September 8, 2019
Afi (short story) by Leanne Dyck
I'm blessed with a wonderfully supportive family--and friends--who have nurtured my writing. Here's an early example...
My mom's parents--my amma (grandma) and afi (grandpa)--lived on School road. I visited them before and after school and during lunch. Amma taught me crafts. Afi taught me how to play gin rummy. He was a grizzly bear, belting out Icelandic folk songs. He was an unbearable force but... One day, I saw him shake. I thought it was odd and then I knew it was scary. Amma had to guide him into a chair. I stood there staring not knowing what to do or where to go--not wanting to see.
Afi noticed me. Amma remembered that I was still there.
"Leanne, elsken (my dear), it's time to go home, " she told me.
I left but I couldn't stop worrying about them. Would Afi be okay? Would Amma?
Afi came home from the hospital--a shell of the man he'd once been. I think he knew he was passing away; I think he knew it won't be long.
Mom judged attending Afi's funeral too emotionally upsetting for me. I stayed home but Afi was with me. He remained with me. So when my language arts class was required to write a character sketch I knew who would be the subject of my essay. Mom helped me with the spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but the words were mine.
Knowing Amma was lonely without Afi, we visited her as often as we could.
In Amma's living room, Mom sat in the turquoise chair with the wooden arms. "Mom, Leanne has something she'd like to read to you. It's about Dad."
Amma joined me on the sofa.
I wanted to tell her that my essay wasn't very good, that I wished it was better. But I didn't. I just read...
"I am sure in your life you have met someone who really made a lasting impression on you. Possibly they taught you how to look at life and maybe even yourself a little differently. This special person in my life was my afi.
"Afi once told me that if you were liked by both little children and dogs you had to be doing something right.
"He was and he did. You would probably like to know his secret. Well, it was not really that mysterious. In fact, it was a very logical approach. He was always the straight goods. He never tried to hide any aspect of his character. Nor did he try to create a ribbon and bow effect. It would have been nearly impossible to camouflage any aspect of his strong character, anyway. So, why try?
"Case in point, he was as stubborn as an old mule." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Amma grin. "And very opinionated. Yet he did not try to push his ideas on anyone. This was not what Afi hoped to do by stating his views. His goal, instead, was discussion. He had the love of debate of a lawyer."
Amma sniffled and pulled a tissue out of her sleeve.
"I'm sorry, Amma. I didn't mean to make you cry. I'll stop."
"Oh, no, Elsken." She gave me a smile. "They're tears of joy. Please keep reading your story."
"He would argue that white was black if he thought it would lead to a debate. It was like an obsession with him. Freedom of thought, action, and discussion rated high in his books. He viewed debates not only as a parley of words but also as a sharing of thought. He regarded each person no matter what age, sex or race as having something special to share. Gregarious was his nature and debating his tool."
"The end," I said so that Amma would know I was done.
"Oh, Elsken, that's wonderful. You are a wordsmith."
When I graduated from high school Amma gave me a pen and pencil set.
"So you'll continue to write, Elsken." She told me with a hug.