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826LA’s annual Young Authors’ Book Project engages students at one high school in every aspect of writing, editing, and publishing. In Through the Same Halls: Journeys of Elders Born and Raised in South Central and Beyond, students from the 826LA Writers’ Room at Manual Arts High School interviewed and wrote about people who shaped their families and community.
“Because of my grandmother and her support, I don’t recall ever having been scared.”
– from “A Coincidence” by Destiny K.
The elder I would love to introduce goes by the name of Joan M. Joan is a mom, a friend, a grandmother, a neighbor, and more, to many. Joan is my adoptive mother, but I call her Grandma. She is kind and loving, but can be over-dramatic. She is sweet, short, and very social. Joan was born in the late 1960s in Belize.
My grandmother tells everyone who she meets how, when I was one month old, I had a heart attack during an Emergency Room visit because of a breathing problem. You can only imagine everyone’s reaction in the hospital room when they heard doctors and nurses screaming Code Blue for a newborn. Surprisingly, I survived that incident, but unfortunately there were many more battles to face after that. I was diagnosed with congenital heart failure and since then I have been in and out of the hospital…. At the age of seven, I had to undergo my first open-heart surgery at Children’s Hospital LA. Because of my grandmother and her support, I don’t recall ever having been scared to have my surgery.
I remember waking up in my hospital room, my home for sometime, to my family, but my grandmother always visited and brought home-cooked meals for me. During her teenage years while still in Belize, Joan began to experiment and became pregnant with the first of the four children she would have. Unfortunately, while moving to the United States, she only had the option to bring two of her youngest children with her. There were many obstacles for her to face because she didn’t have a home or money. Forced to get a job, she began to clean people’s houses and became a caretaker to make ends meet. Her two children (enrolled in elementary school) were forced to grow up at a young age and take on responsibilities that children shouldn’t have to. As her kids began to get older, she decided to go to medical school and study cardiac care.
My grandmother made sure to let me in on the secret of my adoption and who my parents were. She told me I would always be loved. For the most part, we grew up in Arlington Heights and Mid-City, which for me was a very loving community. Everywhere I went, I just felt loved because all the neighbors were like family, and we all looked out for each other. I think, because of the way I grew up, I enjoy being surrounded by positivity.
Being a heart patient, I’ve always received pity because of my diagnosis, so there was always a barrier around me…. One of my pet peeves is being limited and told that I can’t do something. I know I have to prove people wrong and show that my condition does not disable me. It does not depict who I am. It’s just one misfortune in the story that made me the person I am today.
My grandma and I don’t look at all alike; but I know for sure we are both caring, family-oriented, and strong.
About the Author
Destiny K. is a very headstrong teenger. She is family-oriented. She loves life itself and loves to joke around with friends and family a little too much. She has a good heart and is dedicated to whatever she puts her mind to, including her grades.
The views expressed in this book are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of 826LA. We support student publishing and are thrilled you are reading this text. Purchase Through the Same Halls in stores and online at the Time Travel Mart here.
Help students like Destiny gain the tools they need to write their futures: Support 826LA’s free writing and tutoring programs for students in under-resourced communities. Donate today, and amplify the voices of tomorrow.