Ananem (my Grandma :))

It wasn't surprizing that my grandmother had cancer. What was surprizing was the 'life' in her.

She lost her mom when she was a toddler while her family migrated from a village in the Balkans to another one in Turkey. Her father, a goat-keeper, got married four times. She developed a skin condition during her teenage years and lost her hair. She worked hard as a laborer in her village farm, tending the produce, milking the cows, taking care of her five children, one of which was my mom. She developed arthiritis from all those years of hard, unforgiving work. And then cancer, which started in her skin and moved to her abdomin.

My mom remembers the clean sheets they had at home. During all the hardships, poverty and drama (my grandfather would curse and yell at her every single day), she would keep her sheets clean spending days washing them by hand, boiling pot after pot of the cold mountain waters of the village. She was super excited when my mom bought her a washing machine, the only one in the village. She always asked for new and unusual kitchen devices, a new radio, anything new was exciting to her. She loved to travel. She absolutely loved to have people around her.

I vividly remember another thing: her flowers. The flowers in her small but spacy, simple but elegant garden. She would gather them from neighbors and farmer's markets. She would ask her children and everyone that visited her to bring her new kinds of flowers. Especially roses, she loved roses. She would plant them everywhere in white-painted old cheese cans, old kitchen pots and pans and anything else she could place her hand onto. She would tend to them, water them and talk about them while she had all the neighbors around her in the afternoon for a tea. For those tea parties, she would wear her most colorful garments and put on all the real or fake jewellery she has. I remember her getting semi-angry with me for not wearing any jewellery :).

I miss her. A lot. It was hard for her to imagine where I was and how I coped with living abroad. It was hard for me to not be there when she got sick. Yes, I miss her terribly. And I am so grateful for all of my childhood, adolescent and somewhat adult years that had her in it. I remember her light, her laugh that filled and lightened up the room, her sharp green eyes, her comments watching cheesy Turkish movies where she cursed at the bad guys :) I remember her longing and love for us, her grandchildren. She would tell us that she is tired of hugging the gypsy kids she sees in the village (that's what she did whenever she missed us). She would name her new trees, new-born cattle after us :) And she prayed for us to protect us from evil eyes. And now I pray for her, wherever her soul may be, a piece of it is in my heart.


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