Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My sister's mother-in-law

died yesterday. It was not unexpected as she had been in hospital for some weeks after a series of heart attacks and a stroke.
She had not been well for a long time and she was also in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Her enjoyment of life had diminished.
It is particularly sad at this time of year but she was, I think, ready to leave even sooner.
I knew her for a long time. My sister has been married for a long time.
When I first knew Panayiota she was still an active dressmaker. My sister was a beneficiary as were her own daughters. Panayiota had been apprenticed to a dressmaker as a very young girl. She had just three years of schooling and could barely read and write Greek. She never mastered reading and writing English. Even speaking English was a challenge. As she grew older her capacity to speak English grew even less. It is why I made sure I knew some polite words and phrases in Greek.
She was also an excellent cook. My sister was taught to cook Greek-Cypriot dishes. She showed me how to make "dolmades" but I could never wrap the leaves as neatly as her. She also taught me to make "pastitsio" and "baklava". Why? I was my sister's sister and I might need to know these things. Fortunately she did not test her patience trying to teach me to sew.
When I first knew her she would cook meals for twenty people without hesitation. We had more than one Christmas celebration at their home - Easter too but "Greek Easter" with hard boiled eggs, dyed red.
Fiercely protective of her Cypriot heritage she saw to it that my sister did everything from getting married to having children (and having them baptised and taught Greek) in the traditional Cypriot way. My sister acquiesced but has also made sure she has raised two thoroughly modern young men. They are not yet married but neither of them would hesitate to change a nappy if called upon to do so. They may need more cooking skills but they would not starve and they can do their own washing and ironing. I think they will prove good and thoughtful partners when they choose one.
And yes, their grandmother had a part in all that.
She did not live to see any great-grandchildren and it is unlikely that her husband will but her great-grandchildren will be told about her. They will be able to see her on film and video taken by her children and grandchildren. That way she won't be forgotten - and she deserves to be remembered well.


jeanfromcornwall said...

I am sorry to hear of your family's loss. You describe one of those people who should be remembered for the amount that they gave.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like somebody who will be remembered fondly by people doing things in their daily lives which they have learned from her ... a nice way to be remembered I think.