Grandmother, granddaughter co-author book
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When Alyssa Craig was a preschooler, she climbed on her grandmother's wheelchair to hug and kiss her.
She also jumped onto the chair's rear posts and rode along with her "Nana.''
"`She treated my wheelchair like a jungle gym,'' Barbara Craig, 62, recalled.
As she grew older and her elementary school friends asked questions about having a wheelchair-bound grandmother, Alyssa, now 11, said her Nana was just like her other grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
Then she decided to set the record straight.
"People in wheelchairs are the same as people not in wheelchairs,'' she said, echoing the theme of the book she co-authored with Mrs. Craig titled "Nana's in a Wheelchair.''
The Elizabeth Township ''grand'' duo will read the book aloud at 10 a.m. today at Jefferson Hills Public Library, 925 Old Clairton Road, Jefferson Hills. The presentation is part of the library's children's summer reading program which is open to all ages.
Alyssa also illustrated the 14-page book, which was self-published in 2011. Alyssa readily admits the book's protagonist, a girl named Krystal, bears more than a passing similarity to her.
"All the grandmothers love Krystal and enjoy spending time and playing with her,'' the book states.
The work celebrates the fun activities Alyssa and her Nana engage in -- board games, reading aloud and imagination games, such as Alyssa pretending to be characters from "The Wizard of Oz."
Alyssa is the daughter of Jamie and Jen Craig, who live next door to Barbara Craig and her husband Jim Craig. Jamie Craig is the son of Jim Craig, making Alyssa Mrs. Craig's step-granddaughter.
Barbara Craig, a former attorney, suffered three strokes at age 50. They left her with paralysis of her left side.
Alyssa said the best part of writing the book was reminiscing about what she and her grandmother did over the years.
Mrs. Craig said her favorite part was that the two of them got together on a regular basis to toss around ideas that would form the narrative.
The book is published by CrossBooks, a Christian publishing company, and required some spiritual reflection, which Barbara Craig provided on the last page.
She wrote that she and her husband often prayed that God would let them know why she suffered a stroke at such a young age.
But they came to understand that it was "so they would have to time to know and love their granddaughter and that she would know and love them as well.''
"So, while Nana's strokes sound like a bad thing at first, they were really a blessing,'' the book concludes.
Alyssa is already thinking about their next collaboration: how she helped her sister, McKenna, 6, deal with the wheelchair.
Then, as now, she hopes to convey the same message: "Don't be afraid.''
First Published July 19, 2012 5:30 am