The morning was dark and gloomy when I arrived at my
grandmother’s. The fog fell thick and heavy over the city like an
ominous blanket sealing in the cold, and rain thudded continuously
down on the pavement as I passed through the gate, fiddling in my
purse for the house keys. The harsh wind whipped around my
exposed face and I shivered. Clutching my jacket tightly around me,
I unlocked the door and let myself in, pausing only to wipe my feet on
the grubby mat just inside the threshold.
‘Yiayia, I’m here,’ I called out as I carefully placed my bags inside
the door and walked down the hall to the living room at the back
end of the house.
Yeía sou agápi mou
, thank you for coming’.
The living room was virtually unrecognisable; boxes were piled
high in every inch of floor space, the furniture was shrouded in
plastic coverings, stacks of clothes lay folded neatly in piles on the
floor and two small bags of toiletries had been placed atop an
assortment of blankets and wraps. My grandmother was huddled in
the only uncovered armchair left in the room, hands grasping at the
thin shawl around her shoulders.
Each time I saw her, her deterioration stunned me and I felt the
familiar sorrow threatening to overwhelm me. I forced myself to
repress my feelings with silent reassurances that all was still well, and
inhaled deeply until I felt my calm return. She sat with her back
hunched over as her thin, frail arms struggled to reach up and pull
her shawl more tightly around her slight body.
I could still vividly remember a time when, not so long ago, my
grandmother would be up and about whenever I came over, cooking
meals and constantly pressing me to eat more, despite my protests as
I attempted to wave off her extensive array of Greek sweets and
delicacies. The ever-present aroma of baked roasts and hot stuffed
vegetables had now evaporated, replaced by the stale smell of musty
carpet and old furniture. We would have a family meal every week
and she would spend all day preparing the food and ensuring that
the children were fed before anyone else. Even now, when I come to
help her with meals, she tries to convince me to eat my lunch first,
and worries if I have to wait. I guess some things never change.
I plucked one of the blankets off the floor and carefully draped it
over my grandmother’s legs before bending down to plant a tender
kiss on her cheek. It was her last day at home; tomorrow morning