If you ever want to hear some great Placencia stories, then get my Dad and my Uncle Arn together. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s like listening to those old Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner recordings…the way they feed off of each other, reminding each other of details, and giving you sometimes two different points of view on the same story, which gives the listener a fuller idea of the big picture and what may have actually gone down. I spent some time living in Indiana and during that time I got together with Arn and his family and go to re-know them and who they are. Considering I hadn’t lived in the area for about 15 years, it was nice to get the chance to re-connect.
When I think of Arn, an extremely random story always comes to mind. It took place at the annual Placencia Christmas Eve party back around 1977 or ’78. I don’t know why this story has stayed with me for so many years, but it has, and I still remember it like it just happened.
The family was gathered at my cousin Glen‘s house this particular year to celebrate and in the gift exchange I had received some comic books. I wasn’t a regular comic book reader at this point (I had yet to discover Archie and Richie Rich) so some of the comic styles and shortcuts were new to me. In one particular panel, one character was talking to another, but instead of the usual cartoon bubble the words are in, this bubble was drawn with dotted lines instead of one solid line. (I learned later in life this means the character is speaking in a whisper.)
I called Uncle Arn over and pointed to the bubble (which said something like “I don’t think we should be here!”) and asked him what these dashes meant. Arn thought I was pointing to the apostrophe in the word “don’t” and sat down to explain to me about contractions. Even though I already knew all about contractions from school, I was so taken and appreciative of the fact that Arn would take time out from being with The Adults to explain to me how “do not” becomes “don’t”, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that wasn’t what I meant. I didn’t care that I hadn’t made myself clear to him, I just thought it was neat that he would sit down with one of The Kids and make time for me.
You know how they say spending time with a kid can have an impact? In this case, it’s true, and the fact that I still remember this story to this day is proof. It wasn’t what he told me, it was the fact that he took the time.
I’m glad to say that hasn’t changed about Arni. When I was in Indiana, I got to see him at church working with the youth group and it was inspiring to see. If someone has a concern or a question, Arn takes the time to talk. He encourages and welcomes open communication and there’s nothing you can’t bring to him. He accepts you in love and is quick with a reassuring word.
Who knew a quick grammar lesson would stay with me the way it has? I like to think Arn did.