29 Dec 2016, 4:56am
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 12. Knight With Shining Flatware

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

#12 Knight With Shining Flatware

The same quiet baritone now asked her if he could carry her tray to a table.

“Thanks,” Grace said meekly. “I think that would be the safest thing to do under the circumstances. Do you see where Heather went?”

“Yes,” answered the low baritone, “but, there are no more chairs at that table. Would you sit with me at another table?”

“Ok, but no guarantees about not dumping gravy in your lap,” she ventured to say with a smile.

“It’s a deal. I’ll jump out of the way, if I see it coming. By the way, I’m Ken. Who are you?”

“Sloppy Grace,” she answered sourly and told Crackers to Track Ken to their table. Grace silently said a prayer for nothing more to happen during lunch.

She noticed it got quiet around the table he chose as she maneuvered Crackers to sit with her rump under the table and her head next to Grace’s chair. She felt for the seat and back to be sure she wouldn’t end up on the floor next to her dog and carefully sat down. She could hear some tittering nearby and some “Ooh, Ken.”  “What you got there, Ken?” “You going to feed her, too, Ken?”

Grace felt her face burn like a camp fire and  didn’t know what to say so she started to feel for her straw and flatware. To her rising horror, she could not find them and what was worse, she was pretty sure she hadn’t picked any up, because of all the confusion with the falling tray. She felt something brush her hand and heard a metal clink on her tray.

“I noticed that you didn’t take any of these, so I snatched an extra for you,” Ken said. “I’m not sure it will be worth the effort but I get so hungry, that I’ll even eat school food.”

“Thank you, Ken,” she said with obvious relief. “I’m not usually so klutzy.”

“No problem,” Ken said. “I have an aunt who says she is blind in one eye and can’t see out the other. She just happens to be my favorite aunt, so, I’m often filling in the gaps for her. By the way, what they call turkey is located at one o’clock, the little green balls are at six, and the stiff clouds are around nine. The whole thing is covered in brown mud. Bon Appetit.”

Grace didn’t know who this knight in shining armor was but she was very relieved to have at least one bright spot in her day. She started to relax and taste her food. She knew from eating peas at home that she’d have more success if she mixed them into the mashed potatoes. Grace sincerely hoped Ken was too busy eating his own lunch to notice what she was doing. She had a system of eating around on her plate from 12 o’clock to three o’clock and so on until she’d gotten back to the top of the plate. That way she did not have to ask if she had eaten everything. The turkey was dry in spite of the gravy, so she reached for her carton of milk.

Grace always put her beverage in the upper right hand corner of her tray. The straw’s paper wrapper was very tight and refused to budge without a struggle. She wondered why the school purchased such long straws when the carton of milk was so small. She managed to get the carton open with it blowing only a few bubbles of milk out. By now, she was really thirsty.

Grace quickly lifted the carton toward her mouth and immediately felt the result of her haste. The straw did not enter her opened mouth, but rather, her left nostril. The kids at the next table burst out into a roar of laughter. She wished she could climb down under the table with Crackers or run away. She had never been so embarrassed in all her life. Why did she have to come to this dumb school with all these dumb kids anyway?

 

22 Dec 2016, 10:48am
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“…Eyeballs…” Bk. II: 11. Grace’s Day One

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

A loud crack of thunder woke Grace the next morning. “Right,” she groaned without picking her head up from the pillow. “The perfect start for my first day of Hell. Crackers, are you ready for this?”

Crackers, who was already awake and ready to go, stuck her wet nose into Grace’s cheek. The Golden Retriever knew she wasn’t allowed on the bed; but, no one ever said anything about resting her chin on it and, if Grace’s face happened to be right there..! Grace swiped the slime off her cheek and patted the dog affectionately as she swung her feet over the edge of the bed. Her feet expertly searched for her fuzzy slippers. Over her fleece bathrobe she put the L. L. Bean raincoat and marched out into the rain to let Crackers piddle and park.

Breakfast with its wafts of freshly brewed coffee, sizzling bacon, and toasted whole wheat bread was efficiently over-seen by her Mother. Her Father had eaten first and was just finishing his coffee when Grace and Crackers came to the table. He mumbled something about “have a good day. I have to run.” and was gone.

Her older brother, Sandy, noisily refolded the newspaper, and did not acknowledge her presence.

Grace’s mother, on the other hand, kept up a bright and lively conversation mostly with herself. She knew that her family was not composed of morning people and had gotten used to talking to herself. Grace felt her Mother’s nervousness and wished she would just stop talking. Grace had her own thoughts about the fast approaching, inevitable doom that would be her day.

With Crackers brushed and harnessed, Grace glumly climbed into her mother’s tan, Astro van. Her mother taught at The Teddy Bear Nursery School and had offered to drop Grace off on her way to work. Grace was glad for the familiar feel of the van and had not protested the offer; Taking the bus home would be bad enough. Before she realized it, her mother was touching her arm and saying, “I love you, Grace. I hope things won’t be too terribly awful for you today.”

The van was stopped at the side door of her new high school. Her stomach started to do flip-flops. Her mouth was dry. Her hands were wet, and her shoes felt like they were made of cement. All she had to do was find the van door handle, pull it, get Crackers out, and remember the route they had planned during their visit the previous week. It had seemed so easy then. The building was quiet as a tomb last week. The principal had given them a guided tour. Grace had Crackers stop at key check points to familiarize the dog with the routes they would need to   get to classes. But, now, through the open van window, she could hear the noisy bus engines as they idled in the bus loop disgorging their cargo of laughing and jostling teenagers. The crowd flowed into the building like a transfusion of new blood to revitalize a deflated body. It was so noisy. She could just barely hear her mother’s van drive off.

“Crackers, forward,” Grace quietly said half hoping the dog would not hear her and they could just forget the whole thing. Crackers was waiting and listening for commands, so forward she went.

Grace knew that most of the kids would be wearing faded blue jeans, floppy high top Reebocks ™, and tee-shirts. Her Mother had bought her new jeans and a tee-shirt to wear today. She guessed she must look like the rest of the crowd. In her old school, she wore a soft, grey skirt and crisp, white button down blouse. She felt awkward and strange in her stiff new jeans and “Save America” tee-shirt that smelled like it was just printed an hour ago.

She knew she was near the open side doors when she heard laughing kids, slamming locker doors, and squeaking of sneakers on highly polished tile floors. She knew she was through the doors when the hallway got deathly silent. Her face became bright red and hot. It felt like all the blood drained into her stomach, threatening to come out in one whoosh.

“I knew this would happen,” Grace moaned to herself with a nervous flick of her head that sent her hair bouncing every which way. “Grace, hold your head up and concentrate on following Crackers’ lead. This is no time to bump into a wall,” she continued muttering to herself.

As they proceeded down the hall, Grace thought she heard, “My, God, it’s a blind dog!” “No, you nerd, the dog can see. The girl is blind.” followed by lots of whispered tittering. Grace thought she had counted three doors, so she told Crackers, “Left. Left.”

As they entered the room and walked up to a counter, a gruff voice said, “You can’t come in here without a pass.”  The musty smell of old volumes, polished wood, new plastic covers, and inky magazines told Grace she’d turned one door too soon. She was in the library and not the main office.

“Sorry,” she said quickly and turned back toward the door and re-entered the hall that was once again noisy with kids’ chatter.

At the Main Office counter, a friendlier voice said, “Hi, “I’m Tanya, the school secretary. You must be Grace.”

“Yes, I am. Dr. Jones said I should stop in here before going anywhere else. Do you know why?” Grace asked, feeling relieved just a tiny bit that the secretary had not only known her but had also said her own name so Grace also knew to whom she was speaking.

“Yes. We have assigned a student to help you get around for the first few days. Her name is Heather. She’s over there in the red tee shirt…oh, I forgot. I’ll go get her for you.”

Grace remembered what red looked like but there was no way she could see it now or even where the girl was standing.

All she could see were hazy things, kind of like looking through wax paper. She turned as she heard someone cracking gum come up beside her.

“Hi,” Heather said, as she bent down to pet Crackers. “You have a really cute doggie here. What’s his name?”

“Her name is Crackers. But you really shouldn’t pet a dog in harness. She is working now and it will distract her.” Grace tried to sound friendly, but, she had to be firm about not petting Crackers when she should be paying attention to her duties.

“Oh, I didn’t know that, “Heather remarked off handedly as she continued to pet Crackers. “Let’s get to your locker and then home room before the bell rings. We have a pass to be late but I wanna see my buds.”

At Grace’s locker, Heather ran through the lock combination and opened   the locker for Grace. Grace debated whether or not she should explain that she was only out of sight and not out of mind. If Heather had told her the combination, she could have opened the locker herself. It wasn’t until they got into home room that Grace realized that she did not even know her locker number, much less the lock’s combination. She made a mental note to bring her Braille labeler in to school tomorrow, if she came back at all. Mrs. Curtiss, the home room teacher,  seemed like a decent teacher. Grace thought she’d be able to ask her for help if it was absolutely necessary. Home room seemed awfully short. It was time to go to First Period quicker than Grace would have liked.

Heather walked on Grace’s right and seemed to know everyone. They all said hi to Heather and commented on what a nice dog that was, but, no one said hi to Grace. She could never figure out why people found it easier to talk to a dog than to another person. By the end of Second Period, Grace really had to go to the bathroom. She asked Heather where it was.

“It’s down the hall to the right,” Heather said. “Do I have to go with you?”

Grace said, “No thanks. Crackers can find the bathroom.”  They went down the hall and Grace began to say, “Right, crackers, bathroom.”

Crackers went through the tiled, zigzag entrance to the bathroom. Grace was sure it was a bathroom by the smell. Suddenly, she heard, “What the…? Get out of here!”

She was horrified. Crackers had taken her into the boy’s bathroom instead of the girl’s bathroom.

They beat a hasty retreat to the matching zigzag entrance right next to the boy’s bathroom. She was glad no one else was in the girl’s bathroom as a few hot tears rolled down her cheeks.

Third and Fourth Periods passed with no major problems. Fifth Period, however, was lunch and a whole new set of problems cropped up. Grace was determined to be as independent as possible. Crackers took her to the beginning of the lunch line right behind Heather. They were used to lunch lines in her old school and so she knew what to do. She felt around for the trays and put one on the slide bars. It wasn’t quite straight and the tray slid through the bars making an awful clatter as it crashed to the tile floor. As she bent down to pick it up, she banged her head on the bars and felt a big Goose egg start toswell up.

The guy behind her picked up the tray and said in a quiet baritone, “It’s in front of you now.”

She mumbled her thanks and slid the tray too far past the lunch lady who was serving up the main course. Grace had read the menu at home and now could smell  the sliced turkey, green peas, and mashed potatoes with gravy. Grace was used to feeling a notch in the bars where she was supposed to stop at each station. Her cheeks burned as she remembered this was not her old school.  Grace managed to get her plate on to her tray and move to the desserts. She knew from reading the menu yesterday that she had a choice of pumpkin pie or Chocolate Pudding. After her tray problem, she just wanted to quickly pick up one or the other, it didn’t matter which, and get to her seat without any more mishaps. She reached in to feel for a plate and found that she was knuckle deep in Chocolate Pudding. Hoping no one noticed, she put that dish on her tray and slid down to the milk cartons. Again, she knew there would be Chocolate, Skim, or whole milk. She didn’t care which, so, she reached in to get one. Before her hand touched any cartons, the Goose Egg smashed into the sneeze guard causing her to wince. She stifled a cry and stretched her arm in farther to find the milk and put it on her tray. At the cashier, she was thankful that her Mother had purchased a lunch ticket and the lady only had to punch out today’s date. Grace was good at feeling each coin to identify it, but, Thought that at the rate she was going today, she’d mess up again for sure.

Her tray was heavy and not balanced. How was she going to carry it in one hand with her books and hold the dog’s harness in the other hand? Heather had gone on ahead to sit with her friends, leaving Grace stranded.

 

 

17 Dec 2016, 8:31am
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“…Eyeballs…” bk II: 10. Bad news

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried, and true.

 

blind-ambition-photo

 

Blind teacher Kate Chamberlin photographed by Kevin Rivoli for “Blind Ambition” written by Michele Locastro Rivoli, Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper, December 30, 1998.

 

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

www.katechamberlin.com

“Dream it. Write it. Read it.

 

Copyright © July 20, 2016, January, 2017 All Rights Reserved

by Kate Chamberlin

Walworth, NY 14568

 

 
Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

Book II: The Teenagers

 

#10. Bad News

“I absolutely refuse to go. There is no reason why I should and you can’t make me. I was happy in my old school. Why couldn’t they leave me there?  No one asked me if I wanted to leave and come here to finish high school. It’s a dumb law and I’m not going to go. I don’t have anything to wear. I don’t know anyone. And I just won’t go,” Grace sobbed as her hands mutilated a wet tissue. Her shoulder length wavy brown hair was snarled and unkempt from all the crying and rocking on her bed.

“But, Grace, all the residential schools for the blind are being closed. The students are being main-streamed into the local high schools,” her mother tried to explain. “I know none of the others will be in your new high school; but, you’ll make other friends. It’s an opportunity to learn new things. Look how well you and your guide dog work together. Remember when you went to the Training Center to get Crackers, you weren’t so sure you could do that, either.”

Her Mother’s words droned on and on. Grace unconsciously reached down to pet Crackers on her head and tuned her Mother out. She really didn’t understand. It wasn’t happening to her. She had two good eyes and had never had anything embarrassing happen to her. So, what did she know, anyway?

Eventually, her Mother’s back rubbing and shoulder massage, calmed her down a little; or at least, it made her mother think she was calmer, so, she left the room. Grace knew it was far from over. She fell into a fitful sleep that was full of wrong buses, missed classes, staring kids, and stupid teachers.

 

2 Dec 2016, 4:00am
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“…Eyeballs…” Bk 1: 9. Hey, There’s A Dog In Here!

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy

#4. JUST DUCKY

#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

#6. Grace, Martha, and The Sleep Shirt Solution

#7. Zack and Zoe

#8. MARIONELLA

.#9. Hey, There’s A Dog In Here!

This is the day Grace’s Third Grade class has Show and Tell. She never brought in things that are ordinary; just things that no one else would think of doing. She’d already chewed off her fingernails.

“Where could my Show-and-Tell be?” Grace wondered. “My turn is next and she isn’t here yet. My knuckles are aching from holding onto my desk so tightly. I can feel my cheeks begin to burn.”

As the teacher calls my name, I hear a clickity click coming down the hall. I grab my long, white cane, zip out of my seat, and tappity tap to the door. I recognize the clickity click of Mrs. Carnes’s Guide Dog. I’m saved; she is here.

“Hi, Mrs. Carnes. My room is over here to the right. You’re just in time,” I say hoping the relief I feel doesn’t sound rude.

“Hi, Grace, your directions on how to get here were very good.”

“We’re ready for you, ” I say as I tappity tap ahead of them to pat the chair in front of the class.

Now my face is flushed with excitement. The kids are all talking at once.

“Hey, there’s a dog in here!” Fred hollers out.

“Future, Chair,” Mrs. Carnes quietly commands her guide dog.

When they get to the chair, Future puts her chin on the seat to let Mrs. Carnes know where to sit. Then Future lays down on the floor facing the kids.

“This is my neighbor, Mrs. Carnes, and her guide dog Future. I asked her to come for Show and Tell. She’s blind so Future guides her everywhere.” I sit down on the floor near Future, but, I remember not to pet her when she’s wearing her harness.

“Thank you, Grace. I always like to share my story with Others.”

 

Mrs. Carnes starts by asking, “If I can’t see, how can I tell what time it is?”

“Ask your mother,” responds Suzie.

“You could set an alarm clock,” Yolanda thoughtfully offers.

“Well, they are good suggestions, but, remember I can’t see to set the alarm. I am alone at home a lot so I can’t ask my mother.”

“Ask your dog,” giggles Fred.

“My guide dog is good, but, she isn’t THAT good! How else might I be able to tell time for myself?”

She gives them a hint by saying, “Think about your five senses.”

Grace has known Mrs. Carnes for years, so, besides being blind herself, Grace knows all the answers about being blind. She is more interested in how Future reacts to the kids as they warm up to talking with a blind adult for the first time. Future’s tail wags, thumping Grace’s side. She wonders if dogs can smile.

“You could get one of those really tall clocks like my Grandma has in her hall way. It rings chimes all the time. You’d hear it.”

“Oh, great idea,” she says enthusiastically. “But, could I carry it to school with me?” We all laugh at this idea. “I’ll give you another hint. Listen to my magic sleeve. It will talk to you.”

They are really surprised when she rolls up her cuff to show them the talking watch. Grace knows Future likes the watch because when she hears it beep around 3:30, she knows it is time to eat supper!

 

“My blindness is like looking through wax paper,” Mrs. Carnes says, passing around a piece of wax paper for the children to look through. “Blind is not catching. You could hug me and I could hug you and you would not go blind.”

“Hey Lady, you got eyeballs in there?” interrupted Fred.

“Sure, I do. They just don’t work too well,” Mrs. Carnes answers him.

Grace thinks it must be really hard for Future to lay still when she’d really rather play with the children. But, she knows her duty as a working dog. Only her tail wags.

 

“Now, since I can’t see, what other of my senses might I use?”

Future sneezed as she asked this question.

“Smelling!” they all yell at the same time.

The Sniffy Jars are fun, but, it is hard to name the fragrances. With Future’s long nose she can smell better than anyone.

 

“If it doesn’t smell or talk and you can’t see it, what other sense could you use?” Mrs. Carnes encouraged.

“I know,” Jeremy excitedly yells out. “Touch.”

“Yes, and these are Feely Cans for you to try,” she said.

Grace imagines Future perking up her ears. Maybe someday, Grace thinks, Future will stick her paw in there to feel what’s inside.

“Does anyone know how you can read if you can’t see the print?” Mrs. Carnes asks reaching into her carpet bag. “You can see these dots, I can feel them. It is called Braille. This newsletter has many braille cells on it. Here is one cell. Each cell has six dots. While you feel the Braille, I’ll put your name on an alphabet card.”

Grace supposes Future could never get the hang of using that slate and stylus. Grace wonders if the kids know the very large Braille cell Mrs. Carnes shows them is really a pan that can cook six muffins.

 

“This is called a long, white cane. Many blind people, like Grace, use it to keep themselves safe. You tap it from left to right as you walk. Just like marching! I used this one before I trained with Future. Listen to the sound it makes as you use it to go across the room. A tap on the rug is going to be different from the tap on the bare tile floor.”

Grace smiles as she hears the kids bump into a lot of things trying out the long white cane. She knows Future could guide them better than that!

 

“This is a family photo,” Mrs. Carnes says, holding up a full color picture of a Mother Golden Retriever and her puppy. Grace suspects that Future really perks up her ears now. She knows Mrs. Carnes is talking about her puppyhood.

“When Future was about ten weeks old, she was given to a family to raise. She learned to sleep in her own bed, eat from her own dish, and how to behave in public. After a year, she went to a guide dog training school.”

Mrs. Carnes gently puts her hand on Future’s silky head as she tells them how smoothly she can guide her through crowds of people, up escalators, and even ride on a school bus.

“I can feel the motion of Future’s body by holding the harness handle. When Future stops, I stop, feel with my foot, and listen. Then, I give her the command, ‘Future, forward.’ I can feel her go ahead and I go with her.”

When Future hears us clapping and saying Thank You, she gets up and shakes. She knows it is time for her to get back to active duty. The class all watch Mrs. Carnes stand and pick up the harness handle in her left hand.

Mrs. Carnes says, “Good-bye. Thank you for having us. You’ve been a wonderful audience.”

As they pass Grace, she can feel a breeze from Future’s wagging tail. It is as if Future is also waving good-bye to the class.

 

1 Dec 2016, 2:07pm
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“…Eyeballs…” Bk 1: 8. Marionella

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy

#4. JUST DUCKY

#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

#6. Grace, Martha, and The Sleep Shirt Solution

#7. Zack and Zoe

 

#8. MARIONELLA

“Buckle up,” Grace’s Dad sang in his off-key tenor’s voice. “It’s over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house we go!”

Grace put Goldie, her Golden Retriever puppy,  on the floor at her feet, placed her folded long, white cane next to her seat and buckled her seat belt, Visiting her Mother’s parents on their farm was one of Grace’s favorite places to go.

Grace’s cousins, Martha and Janey with their families were already at the farm when she and her parents drove up the stone lane to the old farm house.

After hugs and hellos all around, the grown-ups slipped into talking about things that bored the cousins.

“Grandma Kate,” Martha said munching on popcorn. “Would you tell us a story?”

“Sure,” Grandma Kate said, slowly rocking in her wicker rocker on the wide front porch with her old guide dog at her feet. “Which one would you like to hear?”

“Marionella!” Grace and Janey called together. Martha had so much popcorn stuffed into her mouth that a weird sound came out. It made the girls giggle.

“Stories always start out: Once upon a time, so:

 

Once upon a time, a long time ago, on this very farm. Mommee and Poppee (my aunt and uncle) adopted a boy named George. In time, they thought they’d like to adopt another child. They asked George what he thought about that idea.

“About you and Poppee adopting another kid,” George said as they sorted out the clean laundry. He was 12 and felt very good about helping make this serious family decision. “I don’t want anyone older than me and she should be a girl.”

After long months of waiting and many trips to Ecuador, 3 year old Marionella came to live with George, Mommee, and Poppee.

“Marionella doesn’t speak English yet,” Mommee said. “They spoke Spanish in the orphanage. But, I’m sure she’ll learn English quickly.”

“Cool!” George said, “I’ll use my Spanish on her. I wondered what good it would be, now I know.”

“O.K. We can use both, for a while,” Mommee said, brushing Marionella’s long brown hair.

Marionella sat on Mommee’s lap and didn’t say anything.

 

When they tucked Marionella into her twin bed at night, Mommee said kissing her forehead, “Good night, Marionella. I love you.”

Poppee said  giving her a hug, “Sweet dreams, Marionella.”

George said  giving her a high-five, “Hasta manana, Marionella.”

Marionella looked at them with her big, serious, brown eyes but didn’t say anything.

 

Every morning, they’d name the clothes she wore.

“Marionella, this is a shirt,” Mommee said as she helped Marionella button up the front.

“Marionella, these are your jeans,” Poppee said guiding her foot into the denim pant leg.

“Zapatos,” George proudly said flipping one sneaker at her.

Marionella caught the sneaker but didn’t say anything.

 

The next week, Mommee took Marionella to Nursery School.

“Good morning, Marionella,” her nursery school teacher said,

“bonjour,” said a little girl clutching a cloth doll.

“Guten morgen,” said a boy playing with blocks.

Marionella let go of Mommee’s hand but didn’t say anything.

 

Day after day, week after week, they would teach her new English words.

“This is chicken, Marionella.” Mommee said stabbing a piece with the fork,

“This is rice, Marionella,” Poppee said scooping up a spoonful

“Drink your leche, Marionella,” George said between gulps of his own milk.

Marionella ate her dinner but didn’t say anything.

 

Night after night, at tuck in time, Mommee said, “Good night, Marionella. I love you.”

Poppee said, “Sweet dreams, Marionella. I love you.”

George said, “Te quiero, Marionella.”

Marionella hugged Mommee and said, “I love you.”

She hugged Poppee and said “I love you.”

And she hugged George and said, “I love you.”

Mommee, Poppee, and George were so surprised to hear Marionella say something, and to say it in English. It called for a group hug, so that’s what they did with laughter and tears.”

“And, do you know what?” Grandma Kate asked Grace, Janey, and Martha.

“What!” they asked.

My cousin, “Marionella, hasn’t stopped talking yet!”

 

“Your story ended just in time,” Grandpa Carl said, standing at the screen door. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

“Well then,” Grandma Kate said getting out of her rocking chair. “Let’s have our own group hug and head in to wash up.” So, that’s what they did