My grandmother was married off at fourteen to a man she didn’t love. After he passed, she shared her suffering and how she had wanted someone else. My grandfather was a sweet man, but in her eyes, he was not the one for her. She was thrust into marriage and soon after gave birth to my mother at fifteen in a room underground hidden away from the German war troops above ground.
Times were tough in Greece and she would walk 2-3 kilometers a day inland to search for food, wild greens and other edibles to feed her family. The world ‘out there’ was dangerous and you best stayed close to your own kind. So, when my mother wanted to get married to an ‘educated’ man from an ‘aristocratic’ Greek family
(as she called them in a sarcastic tone) who’s family had moved to the US during the war, she tried her best to stop it. And as in a tale fit for a Greek drama, my mother ran to the sea and jumped off the cliff to die. She was saved of-course and even married my father. My grandmother was forced to roll with the story and so, she built an extra floor above her home so that my Mom and Dad could live in (much to the dismay of my Father who lasted in this home for thirteen years before moving us on).
My grandmother was bitter from life’s struggles. When she laughed, she made sure to follow with a sarcastic or bitter remark. People respected her, but not many liked her. They excused her for her bitterness and went out of their way to help her. She was always there for anyone that needed her. She was the midwife, your plumber, seamstress, shoemaker and electrician. She could build you a shack and put food on the table. Her home was the hub of the neighborhood and it was at the crown of a T-shaped street with a view to the sea. Until she died and for ninety-three years, people gathered to sit on her steps late into the night gossiping, reminiscing and simply building the gate for the future. And she built a strong one. Here she is with my daughter Alithea 3 yrs before her passing. Honoring her, her struggles and her sacrifices.