What Remains Unspoken Writing Contest

woman smiling with reddish-blond hair and blue laniard

Samara Klein

Samara Klein
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
May 15, 2024

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Samara Klein has won our writing contest on the theme What Remains Unspoken with her piece "David and Davey'."

Samara Klein is an attorney who specializes in representing children with disabilities.     

  David and Davey

            Grandpa took me to see Aladdin three times and the Lion King four times. He laughed with me when Aladdin first encountered the Genie and cried when I cried watching Mufasa die in the Lion King. He drove me around in his red Chevrolet Caprice. Dad called Grandpa’s car a jalopy, but proclaimed it was okay as long as our destination was within five miles. I did not know what a jalopy was, but I named Grandpa’s car the Magic Jalopy after the magic carpet in Alladin. The Magic Jalopy not only took Grandpa and I to the movies, but it took us to get root beer floats, the roller-skating rink, and the arcades.

            Grandpa moved in before I went to kindergarten to help mom and dad with my older brother Benny and me, which he did -- in addition to fixing anything that broke in the house. I grew to understand that it was also a better financial arrangement for him. Grandpa and Grandma divorced when my father was a kid. Once, when my dad and I visited my grandma, I overheard her telling dad: “I never understood why your father could never find a steady career. He enrolled in community college and flunked. He then went from construction jobs to handyman work to painting. My parents even offered him money to start his own contractor business, but David had no confidence. I had two children…what was I to do?” she questioned. “A woman in those days wanted a good provider.” Grandma’s second husband was a dentist.

                        I only remember Grandpa getting angry with me once in the sixth grade when I asked him several times to help me with Social Studies.

            “Sammie, I am watching the news, please leave me alone.” 

            “But Grandpa, you never help me with schoolwork. You’ve helped Bennie every night building a model airplane. Why can’t you help me too?” I handed him my book and pointed to the section on Mesopotamia.

            Bennie’s best friend had moved, and he had been downcast, but I felt like Grandpa belonged to me and seethed with jealousy.

            “Samantha, don’t be selfish. Be happy you are so smart. Not everyone is so smart like you!”  Grandpa left the house and slammed the door behind him. He ignored me for a few days and I never asked him to help me with my schoolwork again. 

                        The day after my bat mitzvah when everything seemed to have gone perfectly, my relatives gathered at my family’s house to spend more time together. Uncle Shermon, my dad’s older brother, family bully and my least favorite relative, noticed how close I was to Grandpa and while Grandpa was in the room said: “You know Samantha, David sure is no big shot like you seem to think he is. So lazy and slow that brother of mine. He didn’t even have a regular bar mitzvah because he couldn’t learn his haftarah.”

            Grandpa said nothing and just left the room but I caught a glimpse of his eyes watering. Maybe the part about me becoming a woman at my Bat Mitzvah really happened when I said this: ““Mom says you represent cigarette manufacturers in court, does that make you a winner? Also, you have cream cheese and lox smashed in your mustache.” 

            Grandpa had a massive stroke and died the day I took the bar exam. Not seeing him before he died made my grief more profound. My pain lessened some when my husband agreed to name our first daughter Davey after Grandpa. She had Grandpa’s cornflower blue eyes and my husband Jusitn’s black curly hair. Davey was the type of baby that slept through the night and never went through the terrible twos. By the time she entered the second grade though, she started to hate school. On weekday mornings, she threw herself on the floor at home and cried so much that red splotches covered her face. On the worst days she vomited. I tried spending more time with Davey and taking off work to pick her up from school. One day, I saw the boy I knew as Billy, our neighborhood bully, leaning over her in a menacing way. I got out of the car and heard him shout: “Dumb, Dumb Davey can’t read! You’re such a loser you should throw yourself in front of the school bus!” I was lucky that another mother grabbed my arm before I went after Billy myself.

            We quickly started getting answers to Davey’s problems when we got a letter from the school informing us that a screening tool identified her as being likely to have dyslexia. We read all we could about dyslexia and had her tested by a reading specialist and a school psychologist. Davey had above average intelligence but her brain processed information in a way that made it especially more difficult to learn to read and spell. The research showed that Davey could master these skills with the right specialized instruction and methodology. 

            For Davey, I was hopeful, we had the resources and knowledge available to us to make sure she would be a proficient reader and also protect her from bullies like Billy. We joined a parent group and found out how common it was for dyslexia to run in families. With the knowledge I had now, I recognized so many clues that Grandpa could not read fluently and also had dyslexia. He himself did not know the words to describe why school had been so difficult for him or to even know how reading for him was different than reading for most people. I wish I could reach back in time to tell Grandpa that he was not stupid or lazy and that I was so proud of him. All I can do now is make sure I am never an Uncle Sherman or a Billy and seek to always lift people up instead of pushing them down.


Reviewed by Helen H.
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