A young man sat alone near the river, apart from his three brothers, peering out over the troubled water. His isolation did not go undetected by his grandmother who watched from the house, though. She had a keen sense about her and went out to meet him.
“What’s wrong, Isaac?” she asked, settling her skirts around her as she sat next to him. “Why aren’t you playing with the others?” She indicated where his brothers were running headlong in a game of basketball. Sure, he was shorter than his siblings, maybe a little smaller, too, but he was tough and headstrong.
Isaac gave a dismissal little shrug of his shoulders, but Grandmother could see more deeply than the young man imagined..
“You feel alone,” she said wisely. “Different, like you aren’t like them.”.
He began to nod, but the feisty woman continued, “Well, you’re not like them. No getting around that.” .
Isaac furrowed his brow, a little annoyed. Perhaps he expected Grandmother’s soothing words to come in a different form. But she went on, “Why would you want to be exactly like anyone else? You see—” she picked up his palm and drew a circle with her turquoise-ringed forefinger, “All of you together are like this circle. When one part is cut off, the whole circle is thrown out of balance. You have to be you to complete the circle. You can’t be your brother, your uncle, or your cousin. Just you. That’s all it takes.”.
The corner of Isaac’s mouth twitched. Grandmother figured that was good enough, and went back to her sewing inside. But she watched from the window, and a little while later, Isaac joined his siblings.
Four brothers. One family. One circle.
Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters–Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie. She even met Mr. Alexie in Seattle at a book reading where she got his autograph and a picture taken together.