Farewell Yia Yia

It’s a cold and rainy October evening. The clouds are gray and full. I’m feeling sad tonight because our beloved Yia Yia (Greek for Grandmother) passed away today. The last time I felt this way was 14 years ago to the exact date of today, another rainy and cold October night. Only this was the day my grandmother died.

Bryan, Sophie and I visited Yia Yia yesterday, knowing it would be the last time we’d see and talk to her. The visit was bittersweet. Nearly all of her immediate family was visiting. It was nice to see everyone gathered around, but not for the reason we were there. It was so hard not to completely fall apart when we said good bye.

Tears welled up in my eyes when Sophie said, “Yia Yia, are you sick?” We never told Sophie that Yia Yia was sick or dying. Ironically, when I wrote yesterday’s post about explaining death to children, I had no idea that was really going to hit home.

Yia Yia was a huge presence in Bryan’s paternal family. She was the true matriarch that kept that group together. She loved her family, which was evident from her entire house covered with photos of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even when Bryan and I were just dating, Yia Yia embraced me like I was her grand-daughter.

Part of what I consider my Christmas celebration with Bryan’s family is celebrating with Yia Yia. She loved having the entire family over for dinner around the holiday every year. The house was always beautifully decorated and she cooked to the gills. I looked forward to those holiday gatherings – not because of the holiday itself or the gifts – but because it was Yia Yia’s big celebration day and it made her so happy to have everyone seated around and eating her homemade food. It’s so sad thinking she will not be physically there anymore.

I considered Yia Yia my grandmother. She was the closest I felt toward a grandparent since my own grandmother. And they were both so similar – both full of life, energy and happines, even at the end. Both always stayed active – mentally and physically. Both struggled and had difficult times in life, but didn’t let those times define them. And both believed in the power of education and hard work.

Yia Yia, you will be truly missed by everyone. We love you and will always keep you in our hearts!

Proud Yia Yia visiting Sophie the day after she was born (November 2007)
Yia Yia and Sophie (December 2007)
Yia Yia teaching Sophie Greek dancing (December 2008)
Yia Yia and Sophie (December 2008)
Yia Yia celebrating Sohie’s 2nd birthday (November 2009)
Yia Yia and Grandpa on their wedding day. She looks as beautiful now as she did then.

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