“…Mom is listening to John Mayer again…..”

boots
Copper heard the music when she entered the house. Mom was listening to John Mayer again! She rolled her chair quietly through the house and peeked through the French doors leading to her mother’s studio. Her mom was moving in a rhythm as she moved the clay in her hands. The long gold tresses swayed as her mother’s body became rhythm. She should be a dancer, Copper thought! Her mother’s short turquoise cotton dress floated occasionally as she danced around the light filled studio in worn brown cowboy boots. Copper smiled and stifled a giggle, as the light mood infected her heart. For too long Mom has been sad, she thought. Then she saw movement and Copper’s dad moved into view! Dad was home? This early?

Copper’s eyes widened in surprise as her dad easily danced in the room. He took her mom’s hand, his arm around her waist and they danced around the studio! Her mom threw her head back and laughed! Her dad twirled her mom easily and then…..he dipped her! Copper giggled, as one smooth tanned, cowboy boot tipped leg came up and blond hair trailed the floor. On and on they danced until a twirl out and back put her mother with her back against her dad’s chest, his arms around her, she laughing up into his loved filled eyes fastened on hers.

Copper quietly replaced the sheer curtain on her view, respecting this private movement. Copper smile, she could hear Hootie belting out music with her mom and dad’s laughter mixed in. Too often people assumed Copper could not enjoy this type of moment because she was chair bound, but music was life!

The new sculpture was finished! Copper waited until everyone was gone before she entered the studio. It was sitting on her mother’s worktable covered in a deep turquoise silk throw. The silk easily slipped away, like water running off smooth stones and Copper’s heart stopped.

The sculpture was just a face at a window, just one pane. The joy on the face caused Copper to smile; because it seemed the laughter was just a hair’s breadth away from erupting into the room. A small hand covered the girl’s mouth holding in the giggles, her eyes were wide with surprised joy. Then Copper looked closer at the window. It shined and was of glass! Embedded in the glass was an almost image……Copper moved slightly and the image cleared! She looked closely, but the image disappeared because Copper imperceptibly shifted. Copper held her breath and moved her head until the image shimmered and reappeared. Copper saw a woman and man, she in a short cotton dress and cowboy boots, he in a jean work shirt and worn jeans. They obviously had been dancing, and one smooth leg was up with cowboy boot in the air, as the man dipped her! The woman was laughing up into the man’s love filled eyes. Copper moved and the image was gone! She moved slightly and the imaged appeared! Copper enjoyed the moment, smiled and giggled! She couldn’t help it – the sculpture made you feel that you were a secret observer to an impromptu, joyous, and incredibly romantic moment.

Copper’s eyes looked at the nameplate: “Mayer and Hootie on a summer afternoon”.

So many people tried to interpret the sculpture, some even decided Mayer and Hootie was the couple’s names! Copper laughed aloud when she read that reporter’s comment. Every child should have that moment embedded in their mind, especially when they grew up and looked for someone to love. Copper turned up the music and smiled while she finished her homework.

“…artists are made different than anyone else…”

What a hard day..and a long one, he thought. The summer heat and humidity always turned roofing days into a special version of hell…but that’s one reason why he earned the big bucks, he thought with a tired smile. No matter the weather or the temperature – he got the job done. Although he owned a construction company, Janus Construction, there were times when just directing everyone was not satisfying. He liked to be in the midst of his men, driving them, joking with them, sweating with them, and building with them. Working and creating with his hands are the reasons he started the construction company in the first place, and the love of the craft is why his company held the well earned reputation of the best.

He turned the doorknob to his house and was surprised to see Copper sitting directly inside the door, waiting on him. “Copper, honey, waitin’ on dad?” he asked, as he set his briefcase down and put the mail on the table by the door. When Copper didn’t answer, he turned to his daughter and paused. Her white face and large, round eyes scared him. He squatted down in front of her and took her cold, shaking hands. His heart jumped, stopped, and then jerked again. Something was wrong.

“Dad, there is something wrong with Mom. She is crying again. She cries a lot. Ms. Berman, you know my psychology teacher? Well, today in her lecture she said those are signs of depression. The man in the news last week…you know Dad, the one who killed himself…suicide? He was depressed. Dad, I’m…..I’m worried. Why is Mom crying again?” Copper’s voice trembled and tears rolled down her face. Her dad’s heart hurt for his daughter’s pain….and misunderstanding. He knew he needed to handle this now.

Copper’s dad gently unbuckled the safety belts that held Copper in her motorized wheelchair. He put his arms around her, lifted her to his chest, and carried her to the living room. He settled on the couch and held her until her shoulders stopped shaking. After she calmed, he began. “Your mother is not depressed. I am not telling you this so you will feel better. It is the truth. When I first met your mother, she knew what I was thinking, without me saying a word. She sat on one side of the restaurant, in a group of friends, and I sat on the opposite side of the room. Sometimes the people between us moved, leaned in to hear a conversation, leaned back while they laughed, and I caught glimpses of her,” he reminisced while he hugged Copper and smiled at the scent of her hair. It smelled like her mother’s hair. “Her long gold hair caught my eye first and then her eyes. Your mother’s eyes are so unique…light sky blue. I looked at her and raised an eyebrow, because I wanted to meet her. She nodded her head and raised a hand. She put one finger up, and then put her finger and thumb together…which meant ten minutes. Every so often, I would smiled, then she smiled; I laughed, then she laughed; we spoke without ever speaking, it went on for a while…way past ten minutes and when we finally stood face to face…well, my heart already belonged to her. This was before I ever spoke one word to her,” he finished with a smile.

Copper lifted her head from her dad’s chest and said, “How did she know?”

Copper’s dad smiled again as he looked into his daughters gold eyes. They were shaped the same and fringed with the same lush, dark lashes as her mother’s. “Your mother’s gift is perception. She can perceive and interpret nonverbal communication. You know when a person keeps silent, but they are still mad, even though they smile and pretend they aren’t mad – well no one can pretend well enough to fool your mom. More than that, when a person has no language, like the kids you visited in the school? Well, your mom understands what they want to say…and she is their voice. It’s a gift.”

“But Dad, why does she cry? You didn’t answer that,” Copper said in a quiet voice, fearing she was right.

“Well, I’m getting there…just hold your horses sweetheart. Now…” he took a deep breath before continuing and then finally said, “I’m gonna talk about the accident, and I want your promise you are going to listen and not blame yourself. Just nod.” At Copper’s nod, her dad looked into her eyes a long time, regretting that the accident which caused his daughter’s dependence on her little red motorized wheelchair needed to come up again. “Okay. Uh….the accident changed your mom. It changed everything,” Copper’s Dad took time to hug his little girl, kiss the top of her head, and then he continued.

“You see, not only is your mom very good at perceiving nonverbal communication…actually gifted, but she is also an artist. Honey, artists are made different than everyone else. There is just no getting around it. They are moody, they feel everything deeper than anyone else, and oh boy, when she finishes a sculpture…well, it’s kind of like having a baby! There are tears, laughter, emotions running amuck! It’s just a hard thing to explain. Your mom cries when she gets an idea to sculpt in her head; when she hears a song that causes her to have an idea about something to sculpt; and, wow…when she finishes a sculpture…well, it is emotional. But being able to take that energy – her emotions and ideas – and put them into a sculpture is what makes her work genius. She also, doesn’t have the ability to break off from the hold that an idea takes. That’s why sometimes when we have something on our schedule that is really important, she forgets. She forgets, not because we aren’t important, but because the idea won’t let go. Now, I’m getting to the part about the accident,” he swallowed hard, knowing that no matter how he prepared her, she would still blame herself.

“After the accident, everything seemed to intensify. You see, even though your mom is special, and she has talent that no one else does…none of that is valuable to her. Especially, when they are measured against you. You are the most valuable and precious person in her life. When the accident happened and you were hurt…well, it just caused your mom to have not as tight a hold on the things that make her a genius. Let me explain it this way, you know in the movies when someone comes into contact with gamma rays, or a radioactive spider and suddenly all the traits they already have become supercharged?” At Copper’s nod, he said, “Well, it’s like the accident supercharged everything I just told you. She is impossibly better at translating nonverbal communication; more talented as an artist; and the downside is she feels everything even more. She isn’t depressed honey, she just feels everything times a thousand. She loves you and she almost lost you. Honey, your mom is still recovering from the accident too…just like you. She isn’t depressed; she is just working through it.” Copper’s Dad waited. He knew Copper’s intelligence would process the information. It took time.

Finally, Copper raised her head, “Dad, I feel better,” and then with a smile she said, “After all, my Mom has superpowers….and my Dad…well, he’s a hero. Why wouldn’t I feel better? So…you know she finished another sculpture…the barbed wire one? Let’s go have a super celebration,” Copper said with a wavering smile.

“Super, but hon I really need a….well, a super shower first!” They both threw back their heads and laughed.

Copper’s mom, who listened to the entire exchange in the hallway smiled. She released the held breath, and suddenly…..another idea loomed….but she quickly squashed it. She waited and finally smiled, a little surprised that it worked! Tonight, she thought, it was time for a super celebration!

Hummingbird

After her mother’s explanation that the visit within the brick building would be “painful,” Copper was quite worried about what the visit would entail. At first, the various children they encountered seemed “different” to Copper, and then she realized they all were. Each room they passed was bright and cheerful, but there were no desks or anything that was usually common within classrooms. There were beanbags, expansive rugs, and a great amount of open area within each room that Copper, and her mother passed. Finally, Copper’s mother slowed and stopped. When she didn’t knock on the closed classroom door, Copper turned to look at her mother. Her mother’s gray-green eyes were closed; she breathed deep and slow. Finally, with a serene smile, Copper’s mother gently knocked on the door. “Be calm and they will respond the same; be polite and you show respect; and speak to them as if they are normal, and they will love you,” was all her mother said as they entered the classroom.

Copper’s chair was situated in the corner of the room, and her eyes swept the room taking in the residents. One particular petite girl caught Copper’s attention. She was tiny, and fast. As she moved around the classroom in a smooth, yet darting motion, her dark brown shoulder-length hair swayed out like wings of a quick little bird. Copper could not discern the words, but the small girl’s voice was mesmerizing. Her voice soothingly sing-songed, traveling through various collections of notes, as she flitted around Copper’s chair, getting close but never touching her. The girl darted up to Copper’s face, stopped motionless, and stared at her face with dark-brown eyes. The brown was so deep that they seemed to merge with her pupils, giving them a fathomless depth. Copper tried not to blink or even breathe, because she felt that the girl would flit away at the slightest movement. Then, with a dash and a wave of her hair, the girl was gone to the other side of the room in a blur. Released from the spell of the little girl, Copper blinked her eyes searching the room for her mother.

A group of children surrounded Copper’s mother, as she sat on a stool beside a boy in a wheelchair. He struggled to control his flailing arms, and he made sounds that were not understandable. There were several children hugging her mother, touching her arms and back. It seemed to Copper that they seemed to crave and need to be near her mother. Copper was quite forgotten as her mother visited with the children. This must be her mother’s old classroom Copper thought, as her eyes took in the various disabilities that each child displayed. The children all struggled with one disability or another, and a few of them struggled with several all at once. All of them were nonverbal, but her mother seemed to understand them. Some spoke in unintelligible sounds strung together, some in facial expression, while some with just eye gaze. Communication seemed to be her mother’s strong trait, because she kept a constant stream of conversation going; answering some children or responding to a various look. They all smiled at the same time, obviously understanding her and she understanding them.

After her mother visited with each child, Copper noticed that her mother stayed very still with the same serene smile on her face. Finally, the small hummingbird girl flitted up to her mother’s side, sat down, and put her diminutive hand into her mother’s hand. Her mother’s smile widened, and she spoke in a gentle quiet voice. “Hello my Ella. I have missed you too. I am so very proud that you are doing so well in class.” The little girl lightly laid her head against the arm of Copper’s mother and then darted away with the mesmerizing musical voice lilting her happiness. Copper noticed her mother’s eyes followed the little girl with tears brimming.

The visit did not last long, but it was effective. Copper knew that although she was chair bound, she did not have all the other difficulties to live with that the other children endured. She was puzzled that they seemed happy with all their disabilities. Copper’s mother talked all the way home, an endless stream of conversation that did not require an answer. “The boy in the chair has been in my classroom for several years and has learned to communicate via eye gaze. He can work the communication device with some expertise and….” Copper zoned out, as she thought about her own disability.

So, she was chair bound. It was devastating, sad, and yes, she agreed it was limiting, but…she was so fortunate. She squared her shoulders, lifted her head, and smiled for the first time in many, many months. “…and the little girl…she is my hummingbird. She came from a severely abusive situation. She never touched anyone, looked at anyone, or made any sounds. She perceives any agitation within another person and responds agitatedly. I am the first person to which she initiated any sign of affection…and I miss my kids so much,” Copper’s mother’s voice trailed off, and Copper understood that her mother wanted to be back in the classroom teaching again.

“Mom, why don’t you go back and teach them?” Copper quietly asked. Copper’s mother didn’t speak, but tears overflowed her eyes. “You will be ready again,” Copper said, “It’s just not yet.”

“Maybe….maybe,” her mother said in a whisper.

***

It was several months later that the thick, cream colored envelope appeared in the mailbox. Copper knew it was important in the stunned way that her mother read the contents. She knew it was important in the shocked and silent way her father read the contents. It was a national award for her mother’s most-recent sculpture!

Many months later Copper stood silently in front of the sculpture. The small figurine shone under the special lights of the glass box in which it was encased. It sat on a dais that turned ever so slowly. From one side, the sculpture was the face of a beautifully delicate girl with large dark eyes, exquisite features, a shy smile, and wings of lustrous hair that flew out from each side giving Copper the perception of motion. When the figure turned completely around, Copper gasped at the perfection of the diminutive hummingbird. Its wings were splayed, but as the light played across the surface, they seemed to constantly move. The small bird’s dark eyes were a match for the girl’s; and its body was covered with micro-fine iridescent crystals. The room’s walls shimmered with crystal shaped lights reflected from the bird’s crystal covered wings. As the figurine turned, the crystals embedded in the depths of the girl’s lustrous tresses and along her eyelashes projected different, yet equally exquisite multi-colored lights that danced around the room. Each perspective of the figurine projected different iridescence encasing Copper in the experience. They shone separately, yet blended as the figurine turned. It was a breath-taking sculpture, which Copper knew as “my hummingbird”.

Gray

She decided later, that it was the gray that gave him away. The parentheses on each side of his tightened mouth, the tinges under his eyes, and the sheen of sweat over the unattended stubble on his face. Then again, it was also the shaking hands, unkempt rumpled clothing, and untied shoes. His eyes….they mirrored misery…abject misery. She waited for it, as she surreptitiously watched him…the frustration build up, anger spill, attempt at a former show of strength….and finally the quitting. One scarred hand turned the wheel of his chair away from the therapy room, while his shoulders shook beneath the drab gray shirt.

She knew. She knew it wasn’t the pain of the muscles made to work; it wasn’t the inability to move, or the dependence on others. She knew it was the question that shredded the soul. The “why”. Why him? Why now? What did it mean? Why God?

Copper knew the answer to this question, because it was one that raised its head over and over in her mind. Copper rolled her little red chair over to the man. She looked toward his back and quietly said, “I know the answer to your question.”

He raised his head and swiveled around sharply, “Look kid, I’m not in a good mood and don’t feel like talking’ a—”

“You don’t have to talk, and do I look like I don’t know about it?” Copper looked pointedly at her legs.

“I know,” he said with a small lift of his hand, “but I haven’t always been this way and haven’t had a long time to get used to it.”

“Neither have I,” Copper quietly said. She looked into his dark eyes and calmly waited.

He looked everywhere, and at nothing. He tried to ignore her but his eyes were drawn to the clear green eyes. Finally, with a long exhale of defeat, he said, “Okay kid, give it to me. What’s the answer?”

Copper leaned forward and whispered, “you think knowing why you, why now, why like this….will really and truly help?”

He looked into her eyes, hoping against hope that it would, and slowly…almost imperceptibly nodded.

“Yeah, I thought so too,” Copper said with a gentle smile. “No matter how you feel about why it happened, you will still be there…in the chair….You will still hurt, have to ask for help, be angry and frustrated….and knowing why will not change any of it. It’s wasted energy.”

Copper turned her chair away and then paused. She spoke with her back to him. “I think God expected too much intelligence from us. He doesn’t explain, because He thinks we know that we don’t need the explanation…and even if we got one, we would only ask more. Understanding all the “Whys” in the world will not fix me….or you. So, stop asking, and start moving. Life is not a fairytale, and no one is going to wave a magic wand…He may only grant you a breath….but that is enough. There is not one place where you can find that we are promised all good things. If he preserves us, as my grandmother said, by the skin of our teeth…then he has preserved us. Battle scars just mean we have been through battles… He did not say He would take anything away..He said He would give you strength. Sometimes it’s only just enough to take a ragged breath….” Copper looked pointedly at the door of the room, where a young woman stood. “Concentrating on “why” will only keep you from her…it’s not worth it.”

“You don’t understand, kid….you don’t know who I am.”

“Oh yeah……the music?” Copper asked, “Well, I don’t think it’s been your best, and since suffering is good for the artistic soul….your best is yet to come….so, get off your famous, artistic behind….and play some music.” The man’s eyes followed the little red chair as it zipped across the therapy room, then he turned to the woman looking at him with her heart in her beautiful blue eyes. He smiled, and her blue eyes overflowed with tears in relief…she had not seen that smile since before his accident, and it still caused her heart to jump!

Oz, Copper’s best friend, wondered who the limousine belonged to. It was conspicuously parked in front of Copper’s house. He patiently waited at his window and almost lost his breath when he saw the man. The man had an easy, leather, laid-back rocker look, which pushed him up on the “coolness” scale many levels. His boots were scuffed, his shades black, and his wheelchair as red as Copper’s. Copper leaned forward and spoke easily with the living legend, and Ozzie’s face split into a huge grin when the leather clad arm waved toward Oz’s bedroom. It only took Oz two seconds to be at Copper’s side.

“Oz, I was wondering if you would go with Liam to the airport? I have a therapy session, and I don’t want him to have to go alone,” Copper said with a smile.

Oz could not talk. His Adam’s apple convulsed but no sound emitted. “Go get your guitar Oz. We can have a good session on the way!” Said the musician with a smile. Oz’ feet flew.

“Goodbye, Copper, love. As always, call for anything!”

The critics said many things about his music. Most good, some not so much. There were so many who did not understand it, and therefore ridiculed it in their ignorance. But Copper knew.

“…a caged bird…beating…beating…against steel bars…..knowing each beat….drives the life away…..but I can’t stop…..Oh…..but I can’t stop…..can’t…….just breathe……and step away…….just breathe……and step into day…..”

Little snow

Little snow
In the deep night of winter’s white, a cold, cold, snow fell. The perfect flakes, each one so special, whirled into deep soft drifts. At exactly the stroke of midnight’s bell, the snow began to swirl and swell. Around and around the snow crystals whooshed. They eddied. They moved. They drifted. Then they flowed. They zoomed and swished until….they formed a mound. When the wind slowed, and then finally settled, a family of three stood anew.
Three pure people of snow stood quiet and still in the middle of a forest’s small clearing. The moon and starlight twinkled on their crystal faces, and all around animals waited in the silver silence…holding their breath for the first breathing in of winter’s air…when the snows would live!
Father was the first to draw a deep-chested breath, and then he huffed it out in a foggy cloud. Mother delicately inhaled and sniffed, ending with a dainty sneeze…Atchooo! Little snow rubbed his face, reluctantly awakening to a winter’s night. “Mom,” he said, “just five more minutes?” He yawned loudly and opened his eyes, while his mouth made a huge circle of surprise, “Oh…!” as his eyes fell on all the pairs of eyes staring at him!
Soon talking was everywhere. Father deeply laughed while he heard all the forest stories from his friend Owl. Mother listened to the birds as they caught her up on all the forest gossip! Little snow stayed still, a pained expression on his face. He wanted to play, and slide, and skid…as all little snowmen did, but…he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.
Finally, his snow would support him no longer and he “plopped” down onto the ground. Everyone became quiet as Little snow cried great quiet snowflakes. Father said that Little snow was just tired and did not have his “snow legs” yet, as he looked around nervously. Mother patted Little snow on the back and told everyone that Little snow would sit quietly for a moment. She said he was still tired and would feel better later. All their forest friends smiled politely and said it didn’t matter, no one wanted to go sliding and skidding anyway…it was too late…it was too dark…some other time maybe.
Slowly everyone left, and evening moonlight bathed the snow family. Father said nothing, but his eyes told all. Mother said nothing, but her mouth trembled every so often, and she quietly dashed snowflakes from her cheeks. Little snow just sat and wished deep in his heart that he was like everyone else. He closed his eyes and imagined sliding…and sledding…and skidding…and slipping, but imagining was all he could do. So, he sat still and quiet, wishing and hoping.
Beneath an evergreen, a little coyote waited in silence. Her hair was soft and thick, and her blue eyes saw all. She knew when Little snow fell, she knew when his heart hurt, and she knew he was lonely. When the clearing was silent, and everyone gone, the coyote shyly moved beside Little snow. “I have missed you,” she said quietly, “I have missed you so much.”
Little snow smiled and opened his eyes. “I knew you were there. I knew you would be here again. I missed you too.”
The two small friends talked and talked, until morning’s light pierced the night. It was time for Little snow to sleep, and time for coyote to return to her burrow. They waved goodbye to each other, happy they would talk again tonight.
On the way home, the little coyote stopped to watch a farm family playing. The father and mother were bundled in coats, scarves, hats and mittens. The little girl sat on the porch. She didn’t play. She didn’t run. She didn’t walk. The father and mother rolled up the snow and threw snowballs at each other, chasing around like children! The little girl smiled and laughed, but coyote recognized the look of longing in the little girl’s eyes. She wanted to play and she closed her eyes imagining that she was running, and chasing, and playing, but that was all she could do.
While her eyes were closed, father went to the barn door. He disappeared within, and then appeared again. He had something that made Coyote’s little ears prick up! It was small. It had wheels! He pushed it to the little girl and waited. The mother held her breath. The little girl opened her eyes. She quietly looked at the chair and noticed the smallness of it. She noticed the wheels. She knew it was hers! She smiled and then, she laughed.
The coyote watched the family play in the snow, and she smiled too. She left the clearing with her bushy tail high in the air, prancing with a purpose in her heart.
That night as the midnight bell rang clear, the snow figures opened their eyes and stretched. Papa sucked a deep breath in and guffawed a loud laugh! Mother breathed deeply and quietly chuckled to herself. Little snow did not open his eyes. He did not want to just yet. Coyote had whispered to him to keep his eyes closed tight, because the little pup had a surprise for her friend.
At the small “huff” from Coyote, each small animal began to place a twig. The rabbits each laid a twig down beside Little snow. The owl and his wife flew down from the tree, holding a twig in their beaks. Suddenly, it was like someone said “Go!” Every one began to place twigs, leaves, and pinecones in place. The beavers patted and smoothed with their huge flat tails, and finally everyone stepped back.
Coyote whined and she waited patiently for her friend to open his eyes. Little snow opened one eye, and then the other. He looked at his friends’ expectant faces and then looked down. The weakness in his snow was gone! He was sturdy and strong! He moved a little, then a bit more. Then he skidded, and slid, and slipped, and swooshed…in his own “chair”. Coyote yipped as they played together, her fluffy tail held high. Mother and Father wiped happy snowflakes away, that constantly tumbled down their faces. They smiled with arms around each other, as they watched their Little snow play. Everyone was happy that Little snow was happy.
When morning’s light first pierced the night, and everyone returned to their homes…Coyote touched her head to Little snow’s head…and whispered, “Friends forever…see you tonight!” Little snow closed his eyes in daylight’s slumber, as Coyote ran home with her bushy tail high.

“Are they born bad?” the girl asked.

Following is an excerpt from a book entitled “Giant Killer”.

“ Are they all bad?” the girl asked without looking up from the work in her basket.

“ I’m not sure,” said the grandmother as she rocked in the old carved chair, her hands also busy with a similar work basket.

“ Why are they bad?” the girl continued as her grandmother knew that the girl would, for she was insatiable when it came to things she did not understand.

The grandmother looked at the girl’s slight form and felt her heart jump in her chest, as she answered, “I’m not sure about that either.”

“ Are they born bad?” the child asked with her tongue between her teeth in concentration of her task.

“ Well, they weren’t born in the beginning, they were made. In the beginning they were different creatures…beautiful…and so in awe of us…just so different,” the grandmother answered as she gazed at the horizon, her mind lost in the past, because they were different in the beginning.

The girl watched her grandmother and knew she had slipped into the sifting of past memories and actions, but finally the girl could not hold back, “If they weren’t bad in the beginning, why are they bad now? What made them be bad?” She still searched for an answer that she could grasp, and frowned as she contemplated the information, because she liked things to be predictable.

The grandmother sighed as her mind returned from her memories and she said with a heavy heart, “They chose to be the way they are. Not at first, but little by little it crept in and claimed their hearts.”

“ You mean…“evil”?” the girl said as her almost clear green eyes looked up from her work.

“ Yes, finally their hearts were claimed by evil…and they did evil things…terrible things…but in my
heart I know that it was a choice..and if it was a choice, then they don’t all have to be…bad…” and the memories claimed the grandmother’s attention again. She leaned back, and let her hands drop the work that was ever present. She remembered the first time she saw her first one, and the time she saw her last one, as a single tear slipped from her dark lashes to silently course down the side of her face that was turned away from the girl. Her own mother had said not to look back as she frantically pulled her to safety, but she had anyway.

The grain fell quietly and steadily into the girl’s basket as the grandmother’s eyes closed. The girl knew she wasn’t asleep because the rocker continued to move. The girl placed the knowledge in her mind and moved it about, still not satisfied with the answer. She took a deep breath and said, “Grandmother, if they weren’t born, and they were made…who makes them or why are they made?”

The grandmother sighed and turned back to the task, “They were made in the beginning, and because they watch us, and are fascinated by us, some of them left their home and came here. The task set to them was watching, which is the reason they are called the “Watchers” or in the old tongue, the “Irin”. Some were not content to just watch, and they participated. Those were the ones who took wives and had children. When their children were born, it all changed.”

The girl’s brow scrunched as she thought and finally asked, “Why didn’t they take wives from their own home? Why’d they have to come here and take wives?”

The grandmother chuckled and said, “Well child, they didn’t have wives in their home. There was no need of them. They were originally created to serve….not procreate. When they came here, they were fascinated by women, especially with women’s hair….which is why we…?” the grandmother waited for the girl to answer.

“Bind our hair to hide our glory and keep us safe,” the child said in a monotone as she repeated a statement memorized early in her life, “ So….were their children bad?” the girl continued.

“ Not at first….at first they were…..amazing. But as they lived in a strange land, with strengths and abilities beyond everyone around them, they began to think they were not subject to the same laws as everyone else. They were not wholly to blame, because the people began to hold them in high regard, and began to think of them as….gods….and then the people worshipped them. As gods they weren’t subject to the laws, or so they began to believe, and they broke the laws…and then they corrupted the laws…and somewhere in that time is when they chose,” the grandmother said with a final note, indicating that the conversation was at an end.

“ You mean they chose …evil,” the young girl said under her breath.

“….so don’t give me sympathy….just do your job.”

Dyslexia. It is a word that does not convey the far-reaching effects, just by hearing the sounds of those particular letters strung together. It is what some would call a “disability”; I say it is a difference.

Adults who experience dyslexia say:

The looks, the stares, the giggles . . . I wanted to show everybody that I could do better and also that I could read. — Magic Johnson, basketball legend

I had to train myself to focus my attention. I became very visual and learned how to create mental images in order to comprehend what I read. — Tom Cruise, actor

You should prefer a good scientist without literary abilities than a literate one without scientific skills. — Leonardo da Vinci

Having made a strenuous effort to understand the symbols he could make nothing of, he wept giant tears . . .– Caroline Commanville, on her uncle, Gustave FlaubertI, myself, was always recognized . . . as the “slow one” in the family.

I couldn’t read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape. — Charles Schwab, founder of stock brokerage

I hated school . . . . One of the reasons was a learning disability, dyslexia, which no one understood at the time. I still can’t spell . . . — Loretta Young

I was one of the ‘puzzle children’ myself — a dyslexic . . . And I still have a hard time reading today. Accept the fact that you have a problem. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. You have a challenge; never quit!– Nelson Rockefeller

I never read in school. I got really bad grades–D’s and F’s and C’s in some classes, and A’s and B’s in other classes. In the second week of the 11th grade, I just quit. When I was in school, it was really difficult. Almost everything I learned, I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said that I was not living up to my potential. — Cher

When I had dyslexia, they didn’t diagnose it as that. It was frustrating and embarrassing. I could tell you a lot of horror stories about what you feel like on the inside. — Nolan Ryan

I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race. — Winston Churchill

It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was . . . an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.– Agatha Christie

Willie was sent to lessons in spelling and grammar, but he never learned to spell. To the end of his life he produced highly idiosyncratic versions of words. — Biographer A. Norman Jeffares on William Butler Yeats

My father was an angry and impatient teacher and flung the reading book at my head. — W.B. Yeats

My teachers say I’m addled . . . my father thought I was stupid, and I almost decided I must be a dunce. — Thomas Edison

Since I was the stupidest kid in my class, it never occurred to me to try and be perfect, so I’ve always been happy as a writer just to entertain myself. That’s an easier place to start. — Stephen J. Cannell, screenwriter, producer, & director

He told me that his teachers reported that . . . he was mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams. — Hans Albert Einstein, on his father, Albert Einstein

Kids made fun of me because I was dark skinned, had a wide nose, and was dyslexic. Even as an actor, it took me a long time to realize why words and letters got jumbled in my mind and came out differently.– Danny Glover, actor

I grew up in a school system . . . where nobody understood the meaning of learning disorder. In the West Indies, I was constantly being physically abused because the whipping of students was permitted.– Harry Belafonte

I barely made it through school. I read real slow. But I like to find things that nobody else has found, like a dinosaur egg that has an embryo inside. Well, there are 36 of them in the world, and I found 35. — Dr. John R. Horner, American paleontologist

I just barely got through school. The problem was a learning disability, at a time when there was nowhere to get help. — Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold medalist

Young George . . . although he was bright and intelligent and bursting with energy, he was unable to read and write. Patton’s wife corrected his spelling, his punctuation, and his grammar. — Biographer Martin Blumenson on General George Patton

I am, myself, a very poor visualizer and find that I can seldom call to mind even a single letter of the alphabet in purely retinal terms. I must trace the letter by running my mental eye over its contour in order that the image of it shall leave any distinctness at all.– William James, psychologist and philosopher

My problem was reading very slowly. My parents said “Take as long as you need. As long as you’re going to read, just keep at it.” We didn’t know about learning disabilities back then. — Roger Wilkins, head of the Pulitzer Prize Board

As a child, I was called stupid and lazy. On the SAT I got 159 out of 800 in math. My parents had no idea that I had a learning disability. — Henry Winkler, actor

“I don’t feel sorry for myself. I don’t feel sorry for my friends. Feeling sorry is a disability. I don’t need another one. My friends don’t either. If I stopped to feel sorry…I have stopped. I can’t stop. I don’t have time. When you feel sorry for me, then you don’t make me work as hard as I need to. When I feel sorry for my friends, then I don’t expect as much from them…my sympathy makes them weaker. A friend does not do that. So, don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t give me any false cheeriness. I know what my life is, and I know what my friends’ lives are. We don’t stop and we don’t cry. I know I have a disability, but sympathy will not be it. I just learn to cope and go on. You have to make me, even when I don’t feel like it. So, don’t give me that wide-eyed head tilting sympathetic smile….just do your job,” —- excerpt from Copper Janus, part of her conversation with her new physical therapist.