You’d sit cross-legged and keep your foot up like a hook. Each of us took turns sitting on your hook-held foot as you swung us back and forth, holding our hands in yours. All the while singing…
Κούνια, μπέλα, έπεσ’ η κοπέλα. Έσπασαν τα πίατα, τα ‘καναν κομάτια… (and then slowly:) ένα, δύο, τρία —
ΌΠΑ! you’d say a little louder, as you popped your foot up and pulled us into your lap. You must’ve done this a thousand times in your lifetime. I must’ve watched you do it to my sisters and cousins too many times to count. It was a sad day when I was too big to let you rock me and then pull me up to your embrace.
Oh Pappou, it’s been a year. And somehow, I thought goodbye would be easier. Somehow I thought, that surely in a year, I would somehow not feel you still lost. I think you were this stronghold in my life that I felt would never change. You would always be home when I came to visit. Always sitting on your couch and waiting for a kiss on your cheek.
You were the only person who ever called me Christina (as a nickname) and I was okay with it because that’s how it was. I mean, I knew without a fault that when mom put you on the phone for me to say hi to, you’d ask me two things: 1) how are you, and 2) βρήκες σκορδόσπιτο? With me always answering good, then with a roll of my eyes and laugh, not yet.
Or what about that time last summer when you weren’t doing too well and I was with you? I was literally sitting in the chair right beside you and then, OUT OF NOWHERE, you stood up and rushed over to the table across from us. Apparently looking for your watch! You scared the life out of me because I was sure I wasn’t going to get you back in your chair without falling. Yet, we managed and then later, when you asked for your shaving machine… You told me in humor, “I promise I won’t get up and scare you again.”
Despite your quiet self, you knew how to get in a good tease. Oh gosh, you loved to tell your Greek jokes to visiting Americas! Bless their hearts because the jokes were never funny in English but they tried. And we all loved hearing you share them.
It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a whole year since I’ve been able to give you a hug, kiss your cheek, sit in your living room with you.
So many things have changed.
I want to go back to December 31, 2015 when we all sat in our dark (the power was out in our neighborhood in Thessaloniki, on New Years Eve!) living room together. I think we had the fire going, maybe. As darkness filled the house and the new year approached, with many challenges in store… I don’t know, there was a peace in my heart that night. With no interruption from any sort of technology we sat in darkness and sang old hymns with you in the lead.
I can still picture your brows knitting together as you would sing. Always so concentrated. Always so faithful. Always so loving.
It may be a year and almost two days since you passed away, but… you are not forgotten. I think about you so very often. Though, I am thankful that you are no longer in pain – nor missing yiayia either. Gosh, this missing I feel for you really puts into perspective how much you must have missed her after you lost her. Thank you for being such a good pappou to your kids and grandkids.
We all miss you dearly.