101 years of memories
Reflecting on my yiayia’s death earlier this month at the grand age of 101, some life lessons come to mind
Never stop dreaming. As a young girl on Kythera, Stamatoula (known as Stella) Cassmiatis would often gaze at the ocean liners passing by for distant lands. Little did she know that at age 22 she too would bound for Australia as a newlywed.
Take a chance and hope for the best. Endless cooking for customers at The Royal Café in Boonah near Ipswich became her every day. Child rearing (4 children) and the cementing of cherished friendships with other Greeks soon followed.
Believe in the power of community. Stella and Antonis formed part of the fundraising committee to build a new church, the Dormition of the Theotokos in Brisbane. As the church celebrates 50 years in February, the hard work and dedication of people like my grandparents to keep the Greek spirit alive – is a testament to Greek migrants all over Australia.
The importance of grandparents. Their sheer presence brings together by default the extended family. Seeing yiayia on special holiday celebrations was a must (for who knows how much longer we were lucky to have her). Each year on her birthday, her granddaughters christened with her name, would pose for an annual ‘Stamatoula’ photo.
Preserving Greek sayings such as, ‘na ta exatosteseis’ – yiayia cringed every time someone wished her this, especially in her 90s and even more so, when she turned 99. Once she became 100, instead of saying ‘xronia polla’, we replaced this with, ‘xronia kala’.
Keep the mind and body active. Stella was an outstanding cook. While going through her albums and books, we discovered many recipes written on pieces of paper. She loved to watch George Calombaris on Master Chef.
Be generous with your gifts. Cooking with love for others – family, friends and the church was yiayia’s way of contributing purposefully.
Staying true to your passions. Nothing gave Stella more pleasure than feeding her loves ones. Cooking with fresh organic ingredients (which she usually grew in her perivoli) was something she remembered from her childhood days on Kythera.
Through good works, inspire others. Throughout her life, Stella embodied the true spirit of community and charity. At the age of 96, saddened by the impact of the Brisbane floods, she prepared trays of pastitstio for the families affected.
Keep the faith and persevere. Faithfulness to her husband although he had passed away 40 years prior (she was a widow longer than she was married). Her morning and evening prayers were an essential part of her day.
Yiayia lived through many social changes, and embraced the new technological innovations available, such as video recording episodes of her beloved ‘Bold and the Beautiful’.
Her life taught me that you don’t need to change the world. Make a difference to the hearts of those around you.
Stella’s recipe for life:
Love your family
Add kindness by the handful
Mix well with your community
Stir with passion
Season daily with your faith in God; and
Bake with love.
'Stamatoula' photo taken at yiayia's 90th birthday. Left to right: Leanne, Melina, Stella and Stephanie.
- Register Now
- Commemorating the 196th anniversary of the Greek Revolution
- Laskarina Bouboulina, the Lady of the Revolution
- Heritage Victoria gives green light for Evangelismos Church restoration
- €300 million investment in smoke-free product manufacturing facility in Greece
- This March we march for endometriosis
- Greece faces Belgian roadblock on road to Russia
- Revolution comprehended
- Four dead in tragic accident on Greek highway
- Turkey threatens Greece and Cyprus
- Parthenon voted the most beautiful building in the world
- RIP George Hatzipanagiotis
- World's most beautiful street located in Greece
- Parthenon Marbles resurgence
- Healthy and delicious meals to carry us through Greek Orthodox Lent
- Brother of alleged Bourke Street murderer, Angelo Gargasoulas jailed for two months
- Greece looks to become top tourism destination in the world
- The best IGA in the world belongs to a Greek migrant from Ikaria
Dr Stefanos Dimitrakopoulos' invaluable contribution to Melbourne research will help advance our understanding of brain changes in schizophrenia.
But donors choose how − and if − they'll be contacted by their offspring.
The National Theatre of Northern Greece is on a mission to restore and maintain the Forest Theatre in Thessaloniki.
Eight potentially booby-trapped packages were to be sent to EU officials.
Senator Nick Xenophon is shaking up South Australian politics with the launch of new party SA Best and candidates who have real-life skills and experience.
'Australian workers, particularly young Australians, must be given priority,' says Immigration Minister.
Winning entries will be published in the 63rd issue of the annual bilingual periodical Antipodes.
The American Hellenic Council issued an official statement against Turkish production The Ottoman Lieutenant.
For your next visit to Greece invest some time volunteering through THI organisations and programs.
The 53-year-old singer found dead in his home on Christmas Day passed away from a heart condition.
The three-day festival has an impressive program of critical conversations, music, film, and performances, including author of The Good Greek Girl Maria Katsonis.
The 63rd issue of the literary periodical will be launched οn Sunday 15 October.
Eleni Kollias-Panagakis and mum Angie head Chicago-based Limani Designs, creating bespoke events that are all about the detail.
Vouzas: "In the end we managed to gather ourselves and got this draw”
But it is not the fault of Syriza.
Gerry Georgatos on why Greece, even on surface, is not responsible for its debt crises.
A feast of Hellenic flavours on Australian television.
The 27-year-old came first in the women's pole vault event in Serbia.