Vol. 12


A Story That Could Have Changed My Life

1941; Athens, Greece"A Story That Could Have Changed My Life" illustration: A child listens from the floor as a seated grandfather tells a dramatic story from his childhood

I glance up to my grandpa, who’s rocking back and forth in his chair. I rub my palms on the shaggy carpet, spelling out my name while wondering if I should ask him this question. “Papou?” I whisper in a hushed tone. “Will you tell me a story — a — a — a story about you when you were my age?”

“Of course!” he tells me with his strong Greek accent. He pauses a few seconds before he begins speaking.

“Well, when World War II was happening, I was in the middle of it. I was living in Athena1 on an average day until . . .

“My buddies invited me to play soccer with them. We headed toward the middle of town, to the only soccer field around. We were having a blast until — ”

“Till what?! Till what!” I bellow while fidgeting with the shaggy carpet.

“Till we heard screams and shouts. I froze, while the ball bounced off of my feet. One of my friends met eyes with a guy dressed in a uniform, someone he didn’t know. A bullet chased after him — until it struck him. We all were astonished and didn’t know what to do. One thing I knew was to evacuate the area. We heard the piercing sound of another bullet that was shot and that struck successfully.

“We knew what was happening: The Nazis were invading Greece. I felt sick to my stomach. POW! A bullet was shot; it was headed for me. I ducked — but not enough, for it clipped my ear. Collapsing, straight to the ground I went.”

My hands, without me even thinking, burst right up to my ears. “No, no, no!” I shout.

Papou keeps chattering, like he does not hear me. “I heard a faint blare of ringing,” he continues. “My head started to ache. I still managed to stay hidden. I told myself, ‘It’s not going to end like this’ — which it didn’t. Things started to blur, and everything went black.”

Papou’s voice gets rusty, and he stops speaking.

I glance up to Papou, his eyes pitch black. He is in the moment. I hesitate, then ask, “Is everything okay?”

A tough, firm, courageous tear drops down his cheek. I rush up to him, in his rocking chair, and give him a great big hug. “Has anyone ever called you a hero?”

He shakes his head no.

“Well, now they will, because you are my hero.”

Elise Spanos; Missouri, USA

Illustrator: David Nieters; Missouri, USA


1. “Athena” is the most common English spelling of the Greek name for “Athens.”



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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