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Didem Gurdur Broo

It has been more than a year now that I have lost my grandmother. Grieving is a funny process; sometimes I cry like a kid, sometimes I make jokes about her, sometimes missing her is like a sinking stone on my chest, and sometimes like today I tell myself that she had a long happy life so I should be grateful. Still, most of the time, I cannot keep my tears regardless of how I deal with it.

I learned a lot from her you know. She was not literate and did not go to school other than one year in primary school but she knew a lot. And understanding that I mean understanding that going to school and getting an education doesn’t mean that people know better, was eye opening for me. At the same time, I knew very well that she did not know a lot about many things. That taught me a lot too. Being older doesn’t mean that you know more than younger. She wanted to know what I do for instance but it was not easy to describe it to her. She taught that I was fixing computers for some time 🙂

She was so funny, I cannot even describe you. She made jokes about people, sometimes faked that she is not hearing when my mom and aunt asked her to do something and she didn’t wish to do it. She gave orders for dinner and lunch and if it was not done well she commented without a hesitation. She told people what she had in her mind, certainly did not have a filter :D. And her children warned her about this but she was like “I am who I am, if they do not like, they shouldn’t talk to me then”. She had 11 kids, granny. 8 boys and 3 girls. They are a close, big Cypriot family. We grow up having crowded new year, weekend barbecue parties, and she always sat at the head of the table. She loved drinking in special days and never mixed water to her drink to make it weaker. I was always so proud of how she was in control of the situation. But it was never about being powerful, it was because people loved and respected her or just wanted to make her happy. I remember on a very rare occasions, some people made her angry. Oh my days, you wouldn’t want to see that side of her. She had a list where she noted these kind of things (not herself but a grandkid who wrote down what she said). She took that list very seriously, but sometimes she teased us that if we do not do what she says she will put our names to “the list”. Oh, she was fierce! 🙂

She was a farmer’s daughter so she liked specific events of the year. First rain, for instance, always made her smile. She was not mobile for years. She asked us to keep the door/window open so she can smell the earth petrichor. She also loved the smell of basil. And actually, it may be even not her favorite plant. It was rather grandpa’s favorite so she ended up finding refuge in that smell after losing him. You know what, it is certainly my favorite and I perhaps it is because of her. She used to asked me to cut a piece of basil and bring to her nearly everyday. I guess being exposed to her love for grandfather and that smell made some weird connections in my brain.

Grandma and I had a very strong bond. I was not a difficult kid but I was one when I became a teenager. I did not listen to anyone and I guess one part of her always liked that. When I left home and did not show up for nearly a year, I am sure she was very concerned. When I was back she never asked me any questions. She never let anyone to say anything negative to me, never. Small or big she was on my side in any argument. When I had a piercing, she connected it with some ancient nose piercing that she remembered from her childhood and she said it suited me so nicely. When I cut my hair very short, she pointed out that it is anyways so warm in Cyprus and it is the best for my head. When I had tattoos, she said the “pictures” on my arms and legs are really nice. She looked at them from distant then closely, tried to guess what they were but regardless what they looked like they were nice. It meant a lot to me when she was on my side. And I do not remember a day that she was not. I mean look at the photo below. I am obviously disappointed with something, frigile, weepy. She is calm, holding me tight and probably telling me to not give a shit about it!

She ringed me every Valentine’s day 🙂 didn’t know what people say to each other on that day but wanted to call and somehow say that she loves me. She did not know how to deliver an impressive happy birthday wish either but she tried and ended with “you know what I mean”. And you know, surely, I knew what she meant. Our weekly telephone calls were epic. She gave me a summary of what’s happening in our village. Who is getting married, who had a kid or is pregnant, who is dating with whom and how they are our relatives. Oh, the relatives were important 🙂 She always started from the farthest away “do you know my grandfather’s sister?” I mean! Granny! In the end, you understand that it is the neighbour’s son, for instance 😀 But yeah, it was important for her, so I listened to her and tried hardly to guess who is who.

One time, I was telling her to do not to watch the drama series on TV because they were not good and explaining her how I am against the way they portrait women and our role in society. They were also very dramatic 🙂 affairs, deaths upon deaths, rich guy poor girl stories. It was not good for her, she was crying a lot because of the stories but TV was an important part of her life. I listed my reasons to convince her, she listened to and did say anything back. And I thought that she did not get me at all. Then I moved to Sweden and one day she calls me, gives me all the important news and ends the talk by saying that now she is watching documentaries about animals instead. My heart melted that day! Yes, she perhaps did not understand my critics but at least understood that I was concerned about her. What a woman!

We always ate dinners together while watching Jeopardy. She loved when I knew the answers to the questions or rather questions to the answers. She was ordering everyone to be silent “let her hear the questions, you talk too much”. We are in Cyprus, surely they talk too much, too loud and at the same time! 😀 Yeah, she was very proud of me, she was convinced that I knew everything. I did not…

It is important to write this post because we forget and I do not want to forget how kind, nice, fierce, stubborn, loving and caring she was. I want her to be remembered. Also sometime writing helps to feel better. I can come here and add more memories perhaps, who knows.

My grandmother was Ayse Saban Yazgin. She lived a long, happy life full of stories, dramas and lost on a divided island called Cyprus. She gave birth to 11 kids, first one when she was probably 15 years old. She lost her husband when she was in her 50s, yet took very good care of all her children by herself. She had no state to take care of her when she was a kid when her father decided to take her away from school, she did not get any help either when she was a single mother. She always dreamt to go back to the village that she born and raised, married to the love of her life and gave birth to her children and she had to left during the war but never allowed to do that. She was the farmer that gave name to the piece of lands that she worked day and night for, loved to watch the sea when it was stormy, knew the right time for planting any vegetables seed by heart and knitted for years to keep her kids and grandkids warm. We lost her few months after her great-great-granddaughter born, when she was 89 years old. She did not believe that there is a god, neither do I. So I cannot say anything about where she is now but I know one thing, she was here and I wish she never left.