Tuesday, November 8, 2011

8. Trauma.

Today's prompt asks about traumatic experiences. Reverting to my old journalistic technique of defining a word in the lede (I was quite the creative little high school/college journalist, huh? ;), traumatic is defined as:
  1. A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.
  2. An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis.
  3. An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.
Luckily, option one doesn't apply to me. Other than breaking my arm and getting kicked in the eye during a rousing game of tug-of-war (seriously), I've never really experienced any terrible injuries. And as far as three goes, I can blow things out of proportion so sometimes I'm sure events cause more distress than they need to. But they're not huge problems.

Which leaves us at number two. Now, I haven't had an emotional wound or shock that has lead to neurosis or caused damage to my psychological development, but I have had an emotional "wound," one that I still carry. Time to get all personal up in here.

I grew up for most of my life only knowing one grandparent. My mom's father passed away when she was in college and my dad's parents both passed away when I was a little, little girl. I try to remember things about my Grandma Graham as much as possible, and I like to think that I get my affinity for cooking and baking from her. Yarn work, too. 

Anyway, I grew up only knowing my mom's mom, whom we called Nana. When I was young, Nana moved from New Jersey (where my mom grew up) to Tampa, Florida. She came up to visit us at least twice/year, in August/September and at Christmas. My sister and I each visited her alone some summers, and my whole family drove down once when I was a tween.

Some of my favorite memories are laying on my bedroom floor, when Nana was in my bed, and she'd let me stay up late reading--because she was reading, too. Nana loved reading. She would also spoil me when I came to visit (read a bit about it here), but made me work, too. One time, I vacuumed her condo and she took me to see The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan. Now, Lindsay Lohan is in jail. Times have changed.

Anyway. Nana was an amazing, inspiring woman. She was a hard worker, volunteered at her local library and was an elder (or deacon?) at her church, St. Mark's. She raised two children, lost her husband too early and remained strong. She traveled the world.

Nana was the inspiration behind me applying for the Vira Heinz Scholarship my sophomore year of college. I remember getting calls from Nana when I was little when she was in Italy, or France, and wanted to say hi. I always dreamed that I'd go with her some day. Nana's health began to decline and she moved to Greensburg so that we could all be closer. That's when I knew that instead of going with Nana, I'd have to go for her. I got the scholarship to study in London, and couldn't wait to ask Nana where I should go, what I should see, etc.

Nana's health declined even more throughout the remainder of my sophomore year. On the day I moved home for the summer (about 6 weeks before going to Europe), Nana passed away. I will never forget exactly where I was, and what I was doing when I got the call from mom. I will never forget the way my friends held me and let me sob, in the stairwell of the dorm, for what seemed like hours. Those same friends packed up my belongings for me and loaded my dad's truck for the move home. What kind, compassionate, giving friends I have.

I considered declining the scholarship and staying home for the summer, because it was just too much. Nana had been such an important figure in my life, and her absence left me unsure about so many things. So many regrets about things I should have done, or said. 

I'm so thankful now that I did not decline the scholarship and instead went forward with going to Europe. I thought about Nana a lot on that trip, and I still think about her now. It's been three and a half years, almost to the day, and she's still my inspiration. Maybe it's not a wound or a scar, but losing Nana is one of the most traumatic things I've ever experienced.

If you read through this whole post, thank you. Thanks for sharing in the memory of Nana and letting me be the most personal I have ever been on this blog. I cried, and I think that was a good thing. Love you, Nana.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful story!

  2. Wonderful story. Sounds like you had a wonderful Nana!

  3. Thanks to both (all) of you for stopping by, and for the kind words. She was a great woman!