Teacher’s Guide

My Papa With the Trembling Hand – Anna Harmon

Essay Category: Narratives and Meditations

My Papa with the Trembling Hand is a moving personal narrative about family, loss, and adolescence. For her First Year Writing Seminar, the student was assigned a personal narrative that showed creativity in its structure and form, and she chose to write about her grandfather, whom she had recently lost. 

This narrative provides various “snapshots” to portray the author’s changing understanding and relationship with her grandfather as she ages and his disease worsens. The author is able to capture childhood naivete, and the emotional downfall when it is lost and she is forced to recognize her grandfather’s mortality. One of the essay’s strengths is its emotional power, exemplified by the parallel moment in the author’s first and final moments with her grandfather. 

The author’s depiction of childhood innocence is apparent in this quote: “He always had a tremor. His hand would shake constantly, and it fascinated me. It was specifically apparent when he struggled to open a beer can, unable to keep it still. I watched intently as he stood in his kitchen, his hand trembling while holding his beer. It didn’t worry me. In fact, I loved to watch it.”

What Assignments to Use Essay For:

  • Narrative
  • Conversations Between Writers (paired with Love is Never a Stranger)
  • Family