In Loving Memory of Hrisanthi Toumasatou (1914-2010)
By: Markos Papadatos
On November 18, 2010, we say goodbye to my dear great-aunt Hrisanthi Toumasatou, one of the strongest, boldest and most inspiring Greek women I ever had the privilege of knowing in my life. “Theia” Hrisanthi passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of ninety-six in a nursing home in Argostoli, Kefallonia. Although she had no children of her own, “Theia” Hrisanthi is survived by her beloved nephews and nieces Yianni, Rodo, Efstathia, and Nicolas, as well as many great-nieces and great-nephews who all cherished and loved her in return.
Unlike most children, throughout my early years, I did not get to know my grandparents very well since they all passed away when I was a child; being my grandfather’s sister, “Theia” Hrisanthi took on the role of “yiayia” and afforded me with the opportunity to feel as if I had the gift of a grandma in my life: as a young child, she taught me how to eat “youvetsi” by helping me use bread to bring the food closer to my fork, as well as taught me how to boil eggs, and for every good deed we would do, she would treat my cousins and myself to the brand of “Pavlidis” dark chocolate; looking back, although it may have not been the best-tasting chocolate in the world, it felt like we earned a “gold star” coming from “Theia” Hrisanthi.
Throughout her life, “Theia” Hrisanthi took on many crucial roles: caregiver, nurse, neighbor, friend, confidante and “yiayia.” Since family and unity were of utmost importance to her, she would never miss a single family function or holiday whether it was a birthday, wedding, name day celebration, christening, Easter or Christmas dinner.
Her name, Hrisanthi, translates into “golden flower,” and “Theia” Hrisanthi had a “golden” personality that shined, especially during difficult times. In times of need, she would help her family, friends and acquaintances out in any way she could whether it was by sending them any money that she had, or by going over to their homes and visiting them or nursing them in person. Her presence was always the cure for solitude; moreover, when any person who was close to her was having a difficult time she would always encourage that person to come over to her house to obtain her blessing, since she would remark that “I am old, and my blessings always count.”
“Theia” Hrisanthi was a person who was very fond of the simple life. She was never a big fan of urban life, and spent most of her life working as a farmer and doing hard labor in the village of Mesovounia, Kefallonia. She would continue working in the fields until the age of 89, when she reached a point where she was unable to work anymore. In the winter, when most people would leave Kefallonia for the mainland, “Theia” Hrisanthi would stay true to her Mesovounia roots and reside there the whole year round, being one of the few people to do so.
Most importantly, “Theia” Hrisanthi was a person who went above and beyond her job description as one’s aunt and was able to redefine the meaning of the word “theia.” I was always in awe of her brevity, courage and love for mankind. I feel that I am a better human being having had her in my life, especially since she became the “yiayia” I always wanted as a child. Our constant endeavor would be to carry the “blessing” of this amazing woman; that way “Theia” Hrisanthi’s legacy will live on forever in each and every family member of hers.
To paraphrase the chorus of the melancholic Vince Gill classic country music tune “Go Rest High on That Mountain, (Theia) your work on Earth is done, go to Heaven a’ shoutin, love for the Father and the Son.”
May her memory be forever eternal!