A truly devout woman
Her life had begun in tragic circumstances even when she was in her mother’s womb. In the late 1940s her father had died prematurely in his island village in the north east of Greece. He had left behind a young, grieving widow who already had in her care a few older children. As she was growing up, Yasemi may have felt the absence of her father, but she also had the sense that she and her family were being protected by Panagia, the Mother of God.
No matter what happened, later in her life, this sense of Panagia’s benevolence never left her and it was obvious in her gestures, her radiant smile and the blessings she would give with so much generosity to those in need of a good word and a good example. After her older brother married and migrated to Australia in the 1960s, she and her mother and the rest of her siblings followed. Yasemi was a young woman at the time, and like so many of her generation, she quickly adjusted to life in Australia. She remained devoted to her mother, being the youngest child.
When Yasemi married, she had to move in with her husband’s sister until they could afford to buy a house of their own. They shared the same kitchen, utensils and amenities and after they both had children their shared, common space became even more cramped. Often, Yasemi would be taunted by her sister in law and yet she never understood her use of irony. It was as if Panagia had erected a protective wall around her and so she could remain composed and focused on raising her children in a peaceful way, despite the cynical remarks targeted at her young family.
Yasemi’s elderly mother lived with the oldest son, according to the island tradition, and no matter how tense the relations may have been between her sister in law and her mother, Yasemi remained the peace builder. She made sure no severe word or feeling crossed her heart even when she was witness to certain painful incidents. She chose to forego judgement as she had learnt the art of discernment from a young age. This was the peaceful path that the Mother of God had followed, and this was what she also wanted to remain faithful to throughout her own life.
Yasemi’s husband faced health challenges in his later life, and these made him sullen and short tempered during moments when he felt most anxious. He would express himself harshly and Yasemi would take on the guilt, saying and believing that it was her fault. Her apology and her appeasing nature would bring him back to his better self and so many potential confrontations were easily dissipated because of Yasemi’s discernment and her example. Yasemi may not have ever seen her father, but she had instead, the love of the most holy Mother of God instilled within her soul from a very young age. Panagia’s love was, and is, her shield and the source of her joy throughout all of life’s challenges.
Source: Lychnos November/December 2018