If you’re a Greek American, you have most likely had many lengthy conversations with your Greek grandmother(s), aka yiayia(s), and you have probably -at one time or another- felt like you were losing your mind. Common sense gets thrown out the door along with reality, and oftentimes, déjà vu is the only way to make sense of the things coming out of your (and her) mouth. Our amazing Yiayias can teach us a thing or two about persistence, especially when considering their ability to never stop saying certain things, no matter what age her grandchildren are.
1. When are you going to get married? I am pretty sure that even if you already ARE married (unless he is Greek), she will never stop saying this. You might even remind her that you’re engaged or that you practically ARE married, but it will never be enough. What she is really saying is ‘when are you going to have a big, extravagant wedding in the Greek Orthodox church so I can invite all 9000 of our relatives, including the ones from overseas so I can show you off’? While flattering, this is one of the no-win yiayia questions. She will ask, sigh, repeat.
2. (Insert introductory topic here) ______ when I die/when I die soon. This can literally come out of anywhere. You might compliment her on a dress or a pretty brooch; “You can have it when I die.” Telling her about an upcoming event or celebration; “If I am not dead by then.” When she is complaining about your father or a health impediment; “Oh well. I will die soon.” She is really versatile in that she can somehow insert in her imminent death into any conversation, and therefore bring guilt to the forefront in all situations. Oh yiayia!
3. When are you going to have babies? Which is usually closely followed by #2. “I want to see them before I die!” My grandmother still says this to my father, who turns 60 this year.
4. Eat something! You need to eat. This is usually about 4.5 minutes after you’ve just eaten a huge meal.
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5. You look so skinny. Don’t you cook for yourself? This is usually said when your pants are about to rip or your shirt buttons are popping after she has fed you for 65 minutes straight.
6. You need to lose some weight (interchangeable with your sister, father, aunt, mother needs to lose weight). Also usually close behind a feeding session.
7. Do you want to go to church with me tomorrow? Knowing full well that you are not a church regular, but yiayia is sneaky and will feign surprise and shock when you remind her that you haven’t gone to church regularly since you turned 18.
8. I pray for you all the time. Which is meant to be kind and loving (and it is, don’t get me wrong) but usually has undertones of ‘you would pray, too, if you went to church more often.’
Yiayias are superhuman in their great ability and capacity for love, but also superhuman in their ability to rephrase the above lamentations and insert them into all areas of daily life that you didn’t think were possible. We love our yiayias, but they always seem to have something to say… and it usually is one of the above 8 things in some way or shape.