My Grandmother: A Powerful Woman
Stella Stefanides was born fifty-four years ago in a small village by the Greek-Bulgarian border. Her life reads like a fictional story about deprivation, loss, love and hardships. This woman, whom I am referring to happens to be my grandmother. Her life is truly inspiring because she has overcome many difficulties and continues to be the glue that holds my family together.
Stella was born in the time of the civil war in Greece. Her parents had many babies but they would all die after being removed from their mothers’ womb, which was very common at the time due to the lack of medical assistance. After dealing with the death of five babies, Theano, Stella's mom, was convinced that her dreams of having children were never to be realized. Even as a baby, Stella was a fighter. She fought for her little life and won. That's where she got her name "Stiliani," which means strong in Greek. That name truly captures the essence of her. Growing up was hard. Dealing with the war, the conflicts, the poverty, Stella, just like any other child, had to work. Because she is a female, school was not a priority. Although she wanted to help her family, she insisted on going to school. Craving to learn something new, to explore the world beyond her village borders; she told her parents that she would never leave school. She was willing and able to do both. They agreed, as long as it wouldn't interfere with her work. Deep down inside, her parents were happy that they had a headstrong, smart daughter. School and work weren't easy for Stella. Adding to the picture was a new brother, Savva. Taking care of him while her parents were at the fields became her responsibility. The responsibilities of school, work, taking care of her brother and minding the house would not last very long. It was decided that she would have to drop out of school. Stella was heartbroken! Her dreams of studying in Athens vanished and in sunk harsh reality.
During one of her many visits to the stream for water, she was spotted by a young man named Ioannis Ioakimidis. He was taken aback by her black waist length hair, her porcelain complexion and her beautiful face. So, Ioannis went home and told his mother that he found his (future) bride. The next day, Ioannis and his mother, Eleni, descended to Stella's home to ask for her parents’ permission for marriage. Stella had no say in the matter, but she fell madly in love with Ioannis. He was polite, well mannered and handsome. So they were wed. She was seventeen and he was twenty. Shortly after their union, Stella became pregnant with their first child. She still worked at the fields picking cotton and potatoes well into her due date. When it was time for the baby's arrival, she was taken to a nearby home, where her child was born; a baby girl they would name Eleni (my mother). Eleni was a healthy baby. Stella did not experience what Theano had to endure. The baby's arrival was celebrated throughout the...