Mornings with Yiayia

I took my 2nd cup of coffee downstairs to my Yiayia’s house. She has lived with Mom since the passing of my Papou in 2013. Yiayia is 94. When I do get out to Colorado, I bring her gifts. Before this trip, I was able to visit the Mediterranean Imports Deli in OKC for a bag of Loumidis Greek Coffee. I had this and made a batch of koulourakia cookies (her favorite greek butter cookies) to dip in her coffee as we visit. After making her a bouquet from the garden that morning (she LOVES flowers even more than I do), I knocked on her door with her gifts in hand and she greeted me with a big smile.

Before the visit, she swept the floors. She has always enjoyed clean floors. As I walked in, that was the first thing she mentioned to me. Her independence is very important to her, so when she does allow a cleaning service, it is a big deal. Although she is bound to a walker, she will hold onto the counter and sweep around her kitchen. Arthritis now makes cooking a rarity, but an occasional stew will be made in the winter on her 2 burner stove. She can no longer make her own coffee in a briki so she has american coffee made by my mom most days.

On Mom’s way out the door in the mornings, she will bring Yiayia a cup of coffee and her mail, hand her something off a top shelf, scoot a piece of furniture to the right, and loosen any unopened bottles left for her on the counter.

Yiayia doesn’t get out much, so she LOVES company. She tells me all about her younger years in Greece. Yiayia’s childhood was spent during the war and food shortages. As the baby of the family, she rarely had shoes but did most the errands. Often times, she would dress up in her daddy’s old clothes and keep her hair in her face so no one would bother her in town. These were dangerous times for Greeks. She has memories of her mother hiding Greek and Italian men under the floor boards in their house from the Nazi’s arrest.

When Yiayia would walk to her Yiayia’s house in the village, she looked forward to getting something to eat if there was nothing at home. Her sisters were “prissy” as she describes them, they did the sewing, cooking and cleaning. Yiayia was the “tom boy” and worked in the family garden, fed the horses and chickens, picked wild greens and ran errands in town.

The older Yiayia gets, the less she is able to make sense or carry on a conversation. On the other hand, her memory is jogged more of stories long ago. It can be difficult to follow sometimes, but she finds a lot of joy in sharing and I enjoy listening.

Morning talks while sipping coffee. She loved her bouquet. I clipped roses (“oranges and lemons” variety), trumpet vine, and aspen branches arranged in a small juice glass.
Koulourakia cookies. Yiayia’s favorite buttery citrus biscotti cookies. I made a batch the morning we left home for Colorado.
Hands that tell stories.
Yiayia sitting out in her courtyard soaking up the sun rays on a visit we had back in March 2018. Still a chilly month in Colorado, but she bundles up and embraces the rare 60 degree day we had.

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