If I had to give my Yiayia, Greek for grandmother, a job title it would definitely be a gardener. She planted a seed wherever she went.
Emilia Kadena left us on October 26, 2014. She was born Emilia Delagrammatika in, then, Constantinople, Turkey on August 15, 1916, the name day of our Virgin Mary. Six years later, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, her family was made refugees and forced out of Turkey to Drapetsona, Greece (near Piraeus). Emilia took her job serious as the oldest of seven brothers and sisters and, innately, became their caretaker. The seed she planted as their nurturer was one that she was proud of and would remain with her throughout her life. Her youngest brother, Mixalis Delagrammatikas, is still living in Athens, today.
The next seeds she planted would be the most important ones of her life: she met the only man she would ever marry, our grandfather, Dimitri Kadenas, and moved to Athens, Greece where she bore two children, and were the apple of her eye. She is survived by them today: Calliope Popie White and Alexandros Kadenas. Calliope would later marry the now deceased, Rutherford D. White and move to Albuquerque. Alexandros would marry Donna Hine and move to New Jersey to start his family.
The seeds of strength, nurturing, and wisdom were planted in her eight grandchildren—Aimilia, Demetrios, Constantine (Dino), Danielle, Melita, Danny, Angie, and Nick and will surely be passed on to her five great-grandchildren—Aidan, Luke, Kino, Kawi, and Amaya. Through these seeds we will keep her legacy alive and her memory eternal. We were blessed with a Yiayia that was able to come to the United States to help raise all of us at one at a time and even more blessed that she showed us our Greek heritage by allowing us to spend our summers in the coastal town of Nea Makri, Greece to give us another perspective of life in this world.
Yiayia, you taught us to appreciate what we had; thank you for teaching us how to knit, sing, laugh with our souls, enjoy life, and cook—we know nobody can make a spanakopita or baklava like you. We will try, but it won’t be the same. Thank you for teaching us that you can be mad at somebody for doing something senseless, but you do not have to be mean to them—always forgive. Thank you for teaching us what it truly means to be strong and selfless in every sense of the word. My hope is that we all become a gardener and plant the seeds you planted in us.
Funeral services for Emilia Kadenas will be held Thursday, October 30, 2014 at St. George Greek Orthodox Church at 308 High St., Albuquerque, NM 87102. Donations will also be accepted to St. George Greek Orthodox Church. Thank you, Yiayia. May your memory be eternal.