|Photo by Ioana Hasu|
My life would be completely different today if it were not for my mama-mare and tata-mare (grandma and grandpa), but especially my mama-mare. Mama-mare, the beautiful. She told me stories and she prayed with me. I should rather say that she prayed, and I was there. I always have this image of her praying before the icon of the Mother of God. And I specifically remember she had in her house a painting with two children and an angel. It was not an icon, but somehow it truly accompanied me in my life. And there was a candle just on top of the door between the two rooms of the house in which she lived. I don’t even know how many times I passed under that light, not even paying attention, but I was under that light.
I think she was the first one who told me about God and stories about Adam and Eve. This is not a singular case, since many people who grew up around that time and in that place (Communist Romania) often say that they heard of God, if they did, from their grandparents. I think I am part of a generation which, to an extent, has been raised by grandparents. It was not necessarily in their homes, but rather they lived with us. Family was much more a three generations affair back then, and I certainly miss it these days. In any case, it was not a priest who told me about creation in 6 days–it was my mama-mare. And she told me something else as well: never smoke, she said, for the cigarette grows out of the belly button of the devil. I am positive that if I do not smoke today, it is because of the image that she created in my mind when I was a child. I just saw an ugly creature laying on his back and making cigarettes come out of his belly button the way tennis balls come out of a cannon.
Mama-mare loved sowing “goblen”–some sort of paintings that you sowed (here is a website that may give you some examples). She took a lot of time sowing the Mother of the Lord and Christ himself, and I think she wanted me to help her because of what it could have done for me. And I must say that there is quite a powerful feeling beholding the face of Christ or of His Mother knowing that you contributed to it. Slowly, you may start wonder: would I be able to sow it inside of me as well?
My mama-mare is not alone; she is just one little soldier from a great army: the army of grandmothers! Yesterday, I heard a priest, probably from my generation, who talked about his grandmother, about the steady life that she instilled in him, and I would really say about love. I think he said that his main worry when he was about 13 years old was to not get in trouble with his grandmother (other than losing his soccer game with his friends). And if you do not know a Romanian grandmother, you may not know what he could have meant. But truly, one does not mess with a mama-mare. She warms you when you are cold, she feeds you when you are hungry, she breaths life into you when you feel like dying, but (or precisely because of all of this) you cannot mess up around her, for that loving face burns you until you become ashes.
If the devil is afraid of anyone on this earth, he must be afraid of a mama-mare. Give me one mama-mare, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against her.
P.S. A funny commercial with a Greek grandma 🙂