When you're born into a Greek household as a boy, you learn two things very quickly. First, anyone who mispronounces gyro (yee-row) is shunned by the family, and second, the women in your life are your support system. And when you're little, no one comes above your mother and your Yiayia. For those of you who don't know, "Yiayia" in Greek means grandmother. And when you're little, Yiayia is like Wonder Woman, she's a superhero. I remember every morning she would wake me up, make me breakfast, and sit with me until it was time for school. She is the light of my life and the greatest person I know. My mother is the strongest woman I know, and I have nothing but the utmost admiration for her. I am a strong person because they made me that way, and since they both recently had birthdays (50 and 81 years young), I decided to take this article to pay homage to them.
You both have worked so hard your whole lives to give us a better life, and I am forever grateful. My Yiayia came from a war-torn Greece to America with a dream of a better life. Here, she worked her way up, went to night school, got married, and had three children. From these three children, she has three grandchildren who she raised like her own children. She raised my mother to be a strong, independent woman who never let anyone get in her way. They say "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", they should wait to meet a Greek mother when someone messes with their kids. When someone bullied me growing up, my mom came out ready to crush whoever messed with her baby, and she got that from her mother.
As much as they come to my defense, they are just as ready to discipline me when I'm doing wrong. Children are supposed to be scared of their fathers when they get in trouble, but I was more worried about what would happen when Yiayia found out. She never hit me, never yelled at me, but she knows how to make me feel so guilty about what I did, she and my mother have both mastered the infamous "Greek guilt trip". Without those guilt trips, I wouldn't be the man that I am today. They hurt at the moment, but I would never have learned some of life's toughest lessons without them.
We may not always get along, sometimes we argue, sometimes we annoy each other, but I would never trade them for anything. I'll always cherish the walks my grandma and I take, where she hears me talk about all the random historical facts I learned that week or driving in the car with my mom and listening to some fantastic music. I'll never forget Yiayia taking care of me when I was sick, or my mom rolling her eyes when she knew I was milking it.
Every man comes from a woman, and I've been fortunate to have two extraordinary women in my life.