A Visit to Grandmother
BY WILLIAM MELVIN KELLEY
Make your best guess as to what each highlighted
word means.
 Timidly: He had always known his father to be the warmest of men, a man
so kind that when people ventured timidly into his office, it took only a
few words from him to make them relax, and even laugh.
 Crafty: All my running buddies got their diplomas and were snapped up
by them crafty young gals, and had kids within a year.
 Offhand: As they packed for home, his father, in a far too offhand way,
had suggested they visit Chig’s grandmother.
 Don Juan: his father had never talked much about his family, with the
exception of his brother, GL, who seemed part con man, part practical joker
and part Don Juan.
 Grimacing: That was when Chig saw his face, grimacing.
 Spell: I’ll just sit and talk a spell.
 Footloose: He ain’t as young and footloose as he used to be.
 Bazaar: GL went out of the house one day with an old, no-good chair I wanted him
to take over to the church for a bazaar.
 Reckon, swindler: Now, I reckon you can expect one swindler to be in every
town.
 Ungainly: You see, I was sure that boy had come by that animal ungainly.
 Meager: Well, GL was pulling on the reins with all his meager strength, and
yelling, “Whoa, you!”
 Paid mind, end up swinging: I had ten children. I had to give all of them what
they needed most. I paid more mind to GL. I had to. GL could-a ended up
swinging if I hadn’t.
 Lacquered: A man with a new, lacquered straw hat came in.
 Engaging: He stood in the doorway, smiling broadly, an engaging, open, friendly
smile.
 TIMIDLY: fearful, hesitant
 CRAFTY: a little devious, cleverly dishonest
 OFFHAND: without preparation or forethought
 DON JUAN: a man who seduces women, (after Don Juan, a
famous 14th century Spanish nobleman and lover)
 GRIMACING: a facial expression of pain or contempt
 SPELL: a little while
 FOOTLOOSE: having no attachments or ties, free to do as you
please
 BAZAAR: a fair or sale
 RECKON: guess
 SWINDLER: a person who swindles you (cheats you) using fraud or deception
 UNGAINLY: dishonestly
 MEAGER: lacking in quantity or fullness
 PAID MIND: paid attention
 END UP SWINGING: end up hung
 LACQUERED: covered in a glossy finish
 ENGAGING: charming, attractive
Freewrite
What misunderstandings have there been in
your family? Are there any resentments that
you have, or ongoing family disagreements?
(NOTE: You do not need to share ANYTHING that you
don’t feel comfortable sharing. You and your family
have a right to absolute privacy, and I do not mean to
intrude. The design behind this is that you begin to
think about your own family dynamics, so that you
are in the right frame of mind to begin reading A
Visit to Grandmother.)
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A Visit to Grandmother, vocab