At first Gabe was not pleased about missing athletic activities at school in order to fit a writing workshop into his schedule. A) It wasn't his idea to join and B) Since he had never taken a creative writing class before he had no idea what to expect. But things changed once the workshop began. Gabe found that he was a natural memoirist with poignant stories to tell. In the end, he won the satisfaction of completing a beautifully written memoir, and a regional gold key from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. He even signed up at will for the spring writing workshop and is at work on a second very powerful memoir. Please celebrate Gabe's accomplishments by reading his memoir:
Saying a Real Goodbye
By Gabe Fisher, 13
If someone walks into my room with my clothes spread all over my floor, and my desk covered with hundreds of papers and textbooks, the one object that would probably catch their attention is the miniature basketball hoop that stands in the middle of my room. No one would even find the little stuffed dog that lies humbly, squeezed in the crease between the bed and the wall.
This little brown dog, with its sagging ears and somber eyes, was given to me by my mom when I was in pre-k. At the time I had a great uncle that we visited frequently, and he used to call me “Butch.” (Only until very recently did I learn that he called almost every one be that name.) When I was given this stuffed animal I decided I wanted to have my very own Butch--so that's how my little brown stuffed dog received its name.
About a month later, we learned during dinner that my great uncle had passed away. We all started thinking to ourselves, but being the little five-year-old that I was, I ran straight to Butch. I remember grabbing him and bringing him back to the dining room and keeping him in my grasp for the rest of the meal.
I mostly forgot about Butch after that until I was 10, when my grandfather died after many years of suffering from Alzheimer’s. For a few days before his death I was informed of his deteriorating health. When I was told he died I was sitting next to my two brothers on the couch, stunned. After a few minutes I went back to my room and grabbed Butch and only then did the tears stream down my face.
A few years later during the last week of summer camp, my brother, a camp counselor, approached me and told me more dreadful news. Since he was a counselor, he was allowed to use his phone and was in constant contact with my parents. He took me aside and told me that my grandmother, who I had known had cancer for a while, was very ill and that she could possibly die before camp ends. I was startled; I had no idea how awful her condition was. For the last few weeks my brother had approached me continuously to ask me to write a letter to Granny, but I kept pushing it aside, giving him different excuses every day: Wait my friends want me to join them in a game of ultimate Frisbee. Maybe tomorrow, today I already have to write a letter. Ariel, I have to shower and then get dressed.
I did find one moment to write her a letter describing—briefly—my activities and my summer, thinking that I could tell her all about it when I got home.
Well a few days after my brother told me about my grandmother there was a special day planned for my bunk. We were going to have a day filled with exciting adventures at every turn: wake up early and pray at the beach; go to the water trampoline; take a trip to go mini-golfing, where we would eat lunch.
Upon our arrival back to camp we were taken to watch a movie in a new building that was open for the first time that year. After being in camp for almost two months, there is nothing better than a nice room with air conditioning and a big T.V. at this point my life was at its acme, sitting around with all my friends watching a hilarious movie. Towards the end of the movie I saw my brother waiting outside through the window. When I saw him I began to fret about what he was here for, and my gut feeling told me that it was probably not for the best reason. The movie ended and I went outside and he pulled me aside and sat me down, this time with worse news. He said that Granny had died and that I had a choice to go with him that night, or to go the next afternoon with our neighbor, who was also a counselor at camp. I decided to cherish my last moments of camp and I told him that I would stay.
All day long I had kept my grandmother in the back of my head, with every stroke of my club during mini-golfing I saw my grandmother. I was worried. I was thinking what I was doing there if granny might have died while I am enjoying myself. I was wondering what will it be like without Granny, how will it affect my life and my family. My father was very close with my Grandmother and would regularly drive or bike out to New Jersey from our home in Manhattan to visit her. I was scared that maybe he would be very upset and would need a lot of comforting.
One time earlier that year, with much convincing from my Mother and Father, I decided to bike out with my Father to my Grandmother’s house. It was a Sunday afternoon and we decided to take our time. Since I am an amateur biker, we decided to bike there and leave the bikes there and drive back. My Grandmother and Aunt were already planning on coming into the city that night to eat dinner with us, they were going to drive us back. The way there was tough. We rode over the George Washington Bridge and then through traffic all the way into the uncivilized suburbs of New Jersey. Although it was a long and strenuous ride, I felt that it was all worth it to spend quality time with my Grandmother and aunt. When we arrived my Grandmother and Aunt where relaxing in the kitchen of the house watching the national spelling bee on the small TV. I sat down and began to watch with them.
“aesculapian, aesculapian”, the moderator would say, in his crystal clear, mechanical sounding voice.
Then we would hear an unconfident whispered question from the contestant, “definition, please?”
Immediately we would start spelling the word in a thousand different ways,
mostly wrong, and then laugh when we saw how many different vowels we left out of the word.
A few months later, my grandmother approached me and asked if I wanted to go see this movie about a spelling bee with her. She told me that the movie was called “Akeelah and the Bee” and that it got great reviews. I replied, “I will try sometime soon, but right now I have a lot of homework, so when there is a weekend that I’m free I would love to see it with you.
Well the homework just kept coming and so did my weekly reply to my grandmother’s question.
These were the thoughts swirling in my head torturing me with every hole in one I shot. Memories that I felt would haunt me forever. Nothing could be changed now, as hopeless as the golf ball being hit by the aluminum club.
Right after I found out that my Grandmother had passed away, I had a long Frisbee catch with my brother and this boy in my bunk. When I finally entered my bun, all my friends had been informed by my counselors and they quietly tried to comfort me while I packed my bags. When I gave my bags to my brother, who was taking them home that night, I went out to the big field a where a bunch of girls were jokingly playing with a Frisbee. I ran on to the field and grabbed it in mid-air and started playing keep-away with them. They ran around, to no avail, trying to steal the Frisbee from me. I had told them when I entered what had happened and they tried to act normal but
I sensed that they were struggling to find a proper way to treat me. They said their condolences but after that they tried to find a balance between treating me with sorrows, or acting as if nothing had happened except the latest gossip. When we were called for dinner we stopped what we were doing and we slowly went to the other side of camp for the weekly Wednesday night barbecue. While waiting in line to receive hamburgers, I found myself waiting on line with my good friend. I told her what happened and I was greeted with a laugh. She didn’t believe me. When I went to get ketchup, her mother, a guidance counselor, approached me to find out how I was doing. Still on my side, my friend stood with her mouth dropped and apologized and gave me a hug.
Later that night my friends decided to throw a party for my last night in camp and a lot of kids were sitting on the beds surrounding my area. One of my best friends was joking around with people and refused to give anyone a Twizzler unless they read every word written on the cover of the bag. “Elan, may I please have a Twizzler, artificially flavored, net worth…” suddenly out of anger I reached out and grabbed one. He covered it up by saying “he can have one because it’s his last night.”
The next day I was sitting around with my friends when I was told I was leaving. I had been keeping track of time because I knew I would have to go soon. I stood up and everyone told me they would follow me to the front office to say their final good-byes. They all gave me a group hug and then I was herded into a massive van. When I reached the station with our friend who was taking me home we quickly boarded the train and soon after she was fast asleep. I sat on the train for two hours struggling to finish a book.
I finally got home late that night and felt very uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment. My mother was the only one home because my siblings and my father were at my grandmother’s house. I sat on their bed as my mother explained to me, “your father is very upset and when he comes home you should give him a hug and ask him how he is doing.” I promised her I would and walked back to my room. My eye caught Butch hidden in the corner and I grabbed him and I looked out the window. I started to remember stories about my grandmother when suddenly I remembered the last time I saw her.
“Gabriel, Granny and Aunty Em are gonna be visiting soon. When they come, say 'hello,'” my dad yelled to me.
While simultaneously talking to my friends online, I assured him that I would.
Gabef33:yeah I am so excited for camp!
Ekfootball49: but I haven’t started packing yet and my mom is always screaming at me to start.
Within 30 seconds, and I heard Granny and Aunty Em at the door. I decided to make my appearance two minutes later.
I came in coughing from my developing cold. As soon as I walked in my Aunt told me not to touch my grandmother. “You really shouldn’t be spreading those germs on her.” I said my hellos and went back to my room. I was surprised by their strong reaction, but didn't take it personally. I didn't want to get anyone sick.
It was a short visit and my father told me to come back to say, 'goodbye.' I stuck my head out the door and yelled my goodbyes. Before I turned my back, my father asked me to go down to the lobby to say a real goodbye: “You’re probably not going to see granny until after camp.”
“No, it’s OK,” I responded. I figured that since I was sick I wasn’t allowed to touch her so what's the point of going downstairs to say, 'goodbye.' My wave will mean the same upstairs on the 8th floor as it does in the lobby.
I walked back into my room as I heard the door slam shut.
I stood in my room trying to remember my grandmother. Trying to stop my grandmother from leaving. Trying to put my foot out in front of the door and grab my grandmother and hug her for one last time. But all I could do was tighten my grip on little Butch.