Κυριακή, 2 Μαρτίου 2014

IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY MOTHER

My angel mother passed away last Tuesday. I am relieved that her passing was peaceful and painless, in a matter of minutes in fact, and that her suffering is over. 



IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY MOTHER

Thank you web friends for all your comforting thoughts, comments and prayers both on my wall and in my inbox, for my mother's passing away. 
They were greatly appreciated and Im deeply grateful for your support.

My mom was one of the feistiest, gutsiest people, men or women, I have ever known. Along with my late father she raised five kids and worked hard two jobsthroughout her life to make sure all her children could have college education and follow their dreams. My father's love for her, which was so obvious in their everyday life -and their great love story I was often told about and which I promise to blog about as soon as I'm up to it- served as a great model and reminder to me of what a woman's worth is and how much she deserves to be loved and cherished, in fact one one of the greatest legacies I was given by my parents. My mum was left a widow in her mid fifties but she wouldn't even consider remarrying, when asked about it she'd say ''I was 19 when I fell for your father, I practically grew up with him, how can anything or anyone match up to that? And why on earth would I wonna be a stanger old man's nurse now -because that's what marriage is gonna be like at our age- when I can live carefree and enjoy the love of my kids and grandkids?''

When my oldest brother was 16 years old he died in a tragic accident. Losing a child is devastating and I have seen so many women go through depression or falling apart-and rightly so- after such a trauma. My mum was two months pregnant to me when she lost her child. I immensely admire her for choosing to go through this pregnancy, despite her horrible loss, despite her being 40 years old, despite working two jobs ( pregnancy leave was unheard of in those days). She gave birth to all five of her kids at home, although most women her age would do so in hospital, thus serving as a great role model for me. My mother was the living and breathing embodiment of 'natural' childbirth and I remember thinking ''If she could do it, so can I'' ( and I did and my only regret is not having a daughter of my own to pass on this unbreakable family tradition that goes back to the begginning of time of natural home births).

I remember how my mum's love was expressed the true way: through acts of caring. She 'd wake up at dawn break every day of her life to prepare the main meal of the family-which is at around 1 to 2 oçlock in the afternoon here, breakfast for all her kids and lunch for me to take to school. She' d work as a janitor for the local department of education in the mornings (which practically meant running up and down the town doing chores back then ) , come home in the afternoon, set the table for her big family to eat, do home chores -because she took pride in a spotless house and because she wouldnt have us spend time on housework, she told us ''ýou kids study for your homework, that's what your job is'' - then off she'd go to work as a cleaning lady of a high school in the evenings and finally go back home at night dead tired, but still set on taking care of us. I grew up thinking she WAS a superwoman ...

Her stamina was only matched by her incredible guts. It was a family joke how she'd beaten up every single one of the boys in her neighboorhood when she was a little girl, how they all all feared and respected her beyond words -and that's saying something, because boys at that time weren't today's sissies! This fearless attitude never ever left her, I remember once when a neighboorhood bully, who used to beat up his wife and kids and terrorise kids around there chased my brother to beat him up for some real or imaginary mischief and my brother was so scared that his nose was bleeding, and how my mum flung herself up in front of this big man, almost double her size, grabbing him by his t-shirt and tearing it in half, looking him up in the eye and telling him in a tone that could freeze your blood: '' I swear to God if you ever touch one hair of any of my kids, I'll cut you up in pieces''. He knew she meant it and immediately backed off and from then on even his own kids and wife would come to our house in times of trouble to hide away.

Yes, my mum could take no bullshit from anyone. She could tell to your face the hard, ugly truth even if it hurt, outspoken but also honest in all her dealings. When her boss, the headmaster of the school, demanded that all cleaning ladies of his school would take turns into cleaning HIS home as well (for no extra money) and the other two colleagues of hers complied, scared of losing their jobs, my mom refused flat out telling him ''go clean your own home'' and not only did she not lose her job for that but she earned her boss's respect as well.

After she retired from work, instead of enjoying her well-earnt rest she used her free time to help raise first my oldest sister's four kids, then all four of my own. She was all a great granny could be , spoiling them to bits, doting on them and being awefully proud of their accomplishments. My kids loved her to distraction and often told me to my face that they prefered her cooking to mine -cant blame them, noone could match up to her standards!-. When I had my private school and spent ten hours a day working there she was practically raising my kids herself, freeing me from most chores so that I could concentrate on expanding my business ( though she was quick to point out that she too used to work for as many hours, but she, unlike me, never ever neglected her home duties, thus keeping me humble, lol.)

She was kept active and social throughout her 83 years of life, especially in churches circles, because she was an active and devoted christian..Proof of all this is that half the town turned up for her memorial service and I swear this is no exaggeration. The church were the service was held was packed , her coffin was swamped with mostly white flowers, her favorite color, and every single person , both people I knew and those I didnt, her friends or just people she simply interacted with on a daily basis, would come up to me and tell me ''she was a wonderfull person, so kind to everyone, you should be very proud of her''. When my brother in law, a priest, read the memorial speech, written by my very talented sister who was too emotional to deliver it herself, many people were in tears and after it the former head of the local education council came up to me and told me ''every single thing said about your mum was true and then some and I would even add more''.

All 17 of her grandkids attended the funeral,the oldest of them, my own son included, coming from all parts of Greece where they have been studying or working- weeping silently during the service as each one of them had too many tokens of her love and adoration to remember,but the most moving sight was watching her youngest grandson,my 6 year oild Achilleas, whom she adored and practically raised herself, refusing to leave her coffin throughout the service, too stricken for words , and then whispering to me towards the end of the ceremony ''mum, can I please, please take grandma's body home? I promise to take good care of it, dressing it up and taking it out for walks every day'', tearing my hurt in two.

My oldest sister and two brothers took care of all the funeral preparations between them, sparing me the pain, as I was the one who broke down real bad and couldnt cope with even receiving people's condolences after the service. They also spared no expense for her, offering not just the customary complimentary coffee and cognac and refreshment to all attendees after the funeral, but also a big spread for 150 people afterwards in her memory. We also made sure that she was buried in the family grave, along with her beloved son and husband.

Today I woke up feeling empty and as lifeless as an empty potato sack. I m glad her four month suffering is over but also devastated at her loss. My youngest son summed it up so beautifully. He said ''yes, yes , I know she's in heaven and that I'll get to meet her one day and that she's still with us, but the point is, she died''...( those were his exact wotds) .

Trully, I agree with this guy,who said that : “But she wasn’t around, and that’s the thing when your parents die, you feel like instead of going in to every fight with backup, you are going into every fight alone.”

It is from this sadness that a feeling of gratitude emerges. I feel honored to have been her daughter but also blessed that her passing serves as a reminder to me that my time on this beautiful earth is limited and that I should seize the opportunity I have to forgive, share, explore, and love. I can think of no greater way to honor her than to live this way.

Let us all live a blessed life
while we still can

Love you all
Eirini 

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