This picture was taken about ninety years ago in a remote mountain village of Greece. And my Yia Yia (“grandmother”) is in the middle. She is about thirteen in this photo. If she looks a little tired, it’s because she started caregiving early- she spent much of her adolescence looking after the other kids in the pile. She also helped to care for some of the village elders.
Here is a picture of the two of us now.
Lo and behold, shortly after her arrival, Yia Yia found herself caregiving again . . . this time, for her own two children as well as several extended family members, young and old, who had just settled in the U.S. and needed a place to stay while they found their footing in a new country. She was a quintessential member of “The Sandwiched Generation.”
There were people everywhere. They slept in every corner and on nearly every available surface of Yia Yia and Papou’s house on Walnut Street. There were relatives on couches, kids sleeping in bathtubs, and stray friends who would stop in for a few days which inevitably stretched into weeks. They crowded around the dining room table, their faces bathed in the warmth of endless bowls of egg-lemon soup, freshly-baked bread, and homemade wine. They played scratchy records of old Greek folk songs and danced in circles on the worn carpet in the living room.
Seventy-five years later, Yia Yia’s house is still a place of warmth and respite. But now, roles have changed and Yia Yia herself is the recipient of the care and hospitality that she so generously provided to others. Some of that care comes from family members and some of it comes from outside resources (who actually feel like family too.)
A hundred miles away in Indianapolis, Joy’s House is now welcoming guests and providing a place of warmth and respite in much the same way that Yia Yia’s house did so long ago. Weary travelers are welcomed, bodies and spirits are nourished and lifelong friendships are forged.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful for John, Brenda, Dixie, and Evelyn, the “helping hands” who continue to encourage Yia Yia’s independence, enabling her to remain in her Illinois home. And I am abundantly thankful for the hospitality and support that Joy’s House extends to its guests, their caregivers, and the greater Indianapolis community.
To all of the hands that help- Thank you.
To learn more about how Joy’s House Adult Day Services may be able to act as a resource to your family, please visit their website at:
Questions about health care planning or elder care planning?
We can help.