My relationships with my grandparents were not what you would call traditional. My paternal ones lived in Cyprus while I was growing up in England and my grandfather passed away when I was only about a year old. Although my grandmother visited on occassion, she developed some form of dementia and wasn’t very coherent by the time I had learnt enough Greek to communicate with her. She passed away when I was 18. My maternal grandparents lived in London but my grandfather also passed away when I was in my early teens. Although I have memories with him, he was not the fluffy/cudly kind of man who enjoyed tender moments with people. My grandmother however, is still alive and one of the people I love most in the world. She and my grandfather emigrated back to Cyprus shortly before he passed away. It was there, a few years later that my grandmother and I would become much closer. I moved to Limassol (Cyprus) when I was 15 and lived with her for 2 months before my parents were able to join me. As I became more fluent in Greek, we were able to communicate more clearly and she would sit and tell me stories about her childhood growing up in the village and how she met my grandfather. Her life was an extremely difficult one but she has never lost her spunk and savvy cheek! How many can say their grandmother crashes weddings with her friend for fun! I still enjoy my time with her and the older she gets the more precious those moments become, especially as I now live in the States and don’t get to see her often. Giagia (grandma in Greek) is definitely one of the strongest women I have ever known. I will probably refer to her at other times throughout these pages as she has most certainly been influential in my culinary journey, among others.
I write all this to say that now I get to have a whole new set of grandparent experiences through my husband’s family. Although his maternal grandfather passed away before I arrived on the scene, John has been deeply blessed to have enjoyed these special relationships with his grandparents for a lot longer than most. They are definitely the warm, tender, doting kind of grandparents you see in movies and read about in books. I love hearing stories about their youth or tales of their younger days when my husband and his sister were children. They are each very dear to my heart and over the last six years they have welcomed me as their granddaughter and shown me so much love and acceptance. When Pawpaw celebrated his 80th birthday it seemed only fiting that I make a cake dedicated to his years of experience in the radio world. We searched hundreds of pictures online to find the perfect radio, and with approval from my father-in-law on the design, I made the cake below and surprised him on his birthday. This was very early on in my cake career but it is a wonderful memory where I got to give back to these people who had so generously welcomed me and allowed me to co-opt their history with my husband.