Friday, April 6, 2007

My grandfather ( Stickney ) was a man of few words. Whenever I visited my grandparents' apartment on the third floor of a building called The Wendell, he'd be sitting in his chair, chewing tobacco and working on a jigsaw puzzle spread on a card table right next to him. My grandmother was the designated talker; I can recall just a few words Gramps ever spoke to me.

But I remember those puzzles, the pieces of which were so much a part of the space in which he felt comfortable. When I first started working on the psych unit back in the early 1990s, I couldn't help but notice all the jigsaw puzzles in the day room. And I took note, too, that none of them ever seemed to be completed. Sometimes the covered bridge, or the lighthouse or whatever was nearly complete. But there were always some pieces missing. The whole picture was never really there.

In that way, they reminded me of my grandfather, that man of few words. I never really got to know him; he was a puzzle.

I thought of all this this morning. I'd asked Donna yesterday to read what I've been writing: A fresh start to a book I've been working on for some time now. Donna read it last night before turning in.

" I like it, " she said, but... "

Oh, oh, I thought. Here it comes. The kind of " constructive criticism " I encourage in the writing workshop I facilitate. It's good to hear. It's important to hear. But it's hard to hear, too.

Donna said she was getting lost as she read it. I'd take her down one path then veer off onto another. I'd switch from the present tense to the past and leave her stranded. Wondering where she was. Wondering where I was, in space and in time. Bottom line: It's back to the drawing board. I'll try to make more sense of what I've been writing. Piece it together, like a jigsaw puzzle.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Back in that apartment on Main Street.

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