There is no question the books I have written and items chosen for the shop focus heavily on Yiayia and the little girl (“Koukla”) in the stories. The reason is they are stories of my life and my experiences. Each book pays tribute to lessons I learned and the love that Yiayia Fay (the grandmother in the stories) showed me throughout my life. The only reason my other grandparents are missing from the stories is that they sadly, didn’t live as long. I never met either of my grandfathers (papou/pappou). They passed away before I was born. Yiayia Mary lived until I was 10, so we were able to share more time together. We had a language barrier that kept us from communicating in a deep way, but I always felt like we understood each other. I still remember vividly one time we sat at my kitchen table in my childhood home and just spent time together. She was a petite person and I loved giving her hugs. So, although my other grandparents aren’t mentioned, they are with us in the spirit of the stories.
Papou Ted was Yiayia Fay’s husband. He died young and she missed him every day. Her house was full of ways to remember him and keep him with us. Pictures of them together were always displayed around the house. The “Ted” mug on the kitchen shelf was always present and there were even some clothing items of his in the closet. So, although the book doesn’t mention him or talk about spending time together, I know Papou was in the kitchen with us. Yiayia Fay believed it too, especially when we were visited by a hummingbird.
My grandmother loved hummingbirds. She lived in a condo where she could go out and sit on her balcony. There was a small little table and chairs, and we would eat our breakfast outside in the fresh air. She had a hummingbird feeder hanging above the railing. Any time the hummingbird came to visit and use the feeder she knew it was Papou coming to let her know everything was okay, and he was still with her. It was very exciting to see the hummingbird and also provided us a sense of peace.
I remember it so vividly. It’s such a precious memory for me. The way she loved him was so sweet. Now the hummingbird carries that same feeling of comfort for me. So, it felt appropriate to start adding some products and images of the hummingbird. It represents the other people who contributed to who I am, whether or not I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them. To me, the hummingbird is a symbol of their life and their spirit which influences me in ways I probably don’t always realize.
Grandparents are the most unique and important people. That can be, of course, “grandparents” who are not biologically related, but just anyone who takes on that role for a child. We feel lucky that our daughter has her grandparents as a regular part of her daily life. Even those who don’t share a blood relation still love her like their own grandchildren, which is priceless. She'll always have strong memories of all of them. When she is grown, she will tell stories of time they spent together. I want nothing more for her than those memories.
Even though Papou Ted, Papou William and Yiayia Mary are not represented in the books their spirits, their souls and the values they instilled in us live forever. They are represented as the hummingbird. Their impact on us shows up in quick visits, bring a lot of beauty in small moments and reminds us that although we may not see them in our daily lives, they are always with us in our hearts.