Boy Grows Close To Grandmother Through Memories
Graham Haggett was just 10 weeks old when his grandmother Sandra Lee Wright was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. But he knows a lot about her, mainly from the stories his mother, Shelli Wright, has told him.
"Somebody described her to me once," Shelli says, "as the kind of person that when she walks in the room, the temperature goes up by 10 degrees."
Sandra Lee Wright worked for Aon Corp., a risk management and insurance company with offices close to the top of the World Trade Center's south tower. She was 57 when she died.
"I basically never met my grandmother," says Graham, 11. "But somebody told me that the last picture she saw was one of me."
"Yeah," his mother says. "Sept. 10th, I sent my mom an email with a picture of you; it was one of your first real smiles. And then that morning, 9/11, she emailed back something like, 'So cute! I'm going to steal that baby.'
"So that was what she saw when she first got to the office that morning — your face," she tells Graham.
After the first plane hit the north tower, Shelli got a call from her mother. " 'Don't worry,' " Shelli says she said. " 'You are going to see stuff on the news. But it is not my building.' "
They were on the phone when the second plane hit the south tower.
Graham knows the story. "She said, 'I need to go. I'll call you back when I get out,' " he says. "But, she never called you back."
"I don't know a whole lot about what actually happened from that moment on," Shelli says. "But one of her jobs was to manage the mailroom, and so she had a staff of employees. And one of them was named Donnie."
"When he got outside of the building and saw that she wasn't there, he ran back in the building to save her," Graham says. "But he never walked out again."
"Everybody was willing to do anything for her," Shelli says.
"Everything I know about her, it makes me glad that I had her as a grandma, even though she was only there for 10 weeks after my birth," Graham says. "And I feel like every once in a while, I can still feel her warmth."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Yasmina Guerda.
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