Posted by: Delfini Studios - Diafani, Karpathos | March 24, 2018

Wonder Women

Yiayia and my sis

Have you seen the movie yet?! I thought it was pretty amazing. My sister and I planned a month ahead of the premiere to see it. I even took the day off from work to be in New York with my sister. Priorities, ya know?

Being that March is women’s history month and we celebrated International Women’s Day a few weeks ago (yes, of course it’s everyday…), I’d like to dedicate this post to my Wonder Woman: Yiayia Kalitsa

Yiayia’s Utopia

She opened the first bed and breakfast in Diafani, built it brick by brick with my grandfather. She was the reservationist, the housekeeper, general manager, food and beverage manager, accountant, saleswoman, owner… every guest’s new best friend and the person they’d never forget. There are hundreds of postcards, letters, photographs and gifts sent to her over decades from all over the world to prove it.

I remember summers in Greece with my grandmother–getting to know guests from all over Europe. Listening to her speak fluent Italian always amazed me. She was joyful and generous.

Amazons

A matriarchal society, Diafani, really resembles the Amazonian society. My grandmother was a force of nature: fiercely protective of her family and a great provider. She was and still remains the hardest working person I’ve ever known. She never finished elementary school yet she was an entrepreneur and successful business owner all in her own right. Nothing could stop her from selling those “rooms, mor’e, rooms, rooms” and nothing compared to the warm and inviting environment only she could create.

The Heroine & connecting the dots

My grandmother’s life was extended 12 years because of successful surgeries that only The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the U.S. could perform. It was within those 12 years that I truly got to know her, love her and realize by her example what dignity meant. Years later, I worked at Hopkins and helped patients just like her.

After she passed, I was able to recognize other wonder women. I’d see her positive qualities that I admired in them and would connect those people with my yiayia. My sister especially. The first time I read Proverbs 31, I cried because those verses were my grandmother. I still do because she was exceptional.

The last battle

She was strong. She’d hide her suffering. As evident as her physical suffering was, she didn’t want anyone to worry about her. When she had greeted me at the port upon my arrival, she was so weak and thin that she fell forward from the wind. The strongest person I’ve ever known wasn’t strong enough to walk me to the port and see me off as she did every summer. She asked my maternal grandmother to come from Olympos to do so in her place. I always saw that as a passing of the torch.

The Lasso of Truth

Not too long ago, I told someone that I thought her dad would have been so proud of her – I was so taken aback by her reaction when she got teary eyed. I didn’t really get it at that moment, but after a long while it clicked… if someone ever told me my yiayia would have been so proud of me, that would be my reaction too. If I can make a Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman proud, I know I’m doing something right.

-k.e.l.


Responses

  1. Hey Popi – that’s beautiful! I’m so sorry we just missed meeting your yiayia but your tribute above, and all the other things we’ve heard of her from other people truly make her a Wonder Woman to be remembered, loved and respected. And what a great photograph too!


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