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  • Frances Schwabenland

Portrait of a hero in the time of covid

We The People of Hope and Healing

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

Spending time with Elena let me know I was in the presence of someone who had the courage of a warrior combined with a gentle and beautiful tenderness. Humble strength radiated from her presence. Elena had the stirrings of the call to nursing from the time she was a young girl. Her mother was dying of AIDS and Elena was trying so hard to coax life to stay. In the end, her mother’s spirit needed to leave her limiting body. Without a parent, Elena had to now adjust to institutional living – far too many challenges for someone so young but hearts found each other as they wondrously do. Arms opened and a new family was formed. Elena took the last name of Granito. Through the years, nursing was always whispering to her and she listened, following her heart. She is now at a threshold awaiting to complete her nursing boards. What started out as one of the most difficult challenges has now brought her home. She is grounded in the vocation of caring for the sick. She is the true definition of resiliency. 

Elena is presently working at Abington-Jefferson hospital. There have been many drives home where the tears have flowed. Waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping, this is what Elena and so many other nurses and doctors are living within.

For this portrait, I included a beautiful wave from the Philadelphia Mural, “I Am The Atlantic” by Josh Sarantitis. One can be crushed by the waves or one can ride it. Elena has faced the wildness as each wave came at her and tried to throw her off course and pull her down, but she has masterfully risen above and rode them home. The cranes are from the murals, “Longevity Through The Arts” by Ann Northrup and “Peace is a Haiku Song” by Parris Stancell and Josh Sarantitis. In many cultures, the crane symbolizes happiness and blessings. I incorporated the sky for expansiveness and a yellow flower symbolizing new beginnings. As Elena prepares to take her boards and plan a wedding, may beauty and blessings be hers as she gives so much to so many others. 

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