CHICAGO (CBS) — A family’s love and an ancient Greek hymn transformed a granddaughter’s visit with her beloved grandmother, who is in hospice care.
Kristal Melendez, 29, said she was visiting with her 89-year-old grandmother, Victoria Senodenos, when Melendez started crying “puddles of tears.” She saw her “yia-yia” (grandmother in Greek) lying in bed, rocking side-to-side and mumbling rapidly and incoherently. Mrs. Senodenos has Alzheimer’s disease.
“My grandmother has been a huge inspiration,” said Melendez. “She is literally the strongest and most kind woman I have ever met in my life.”
As she observed her grandmother, she had an idea. “Music has always helped me. I really believe that music helps the soul.”
Wanting to give her grandmother “ease and rest,” Melendez began singing a Greek Orthodox hymn, Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen), which she says is a family favorite, especially around Easter time.
Melendez says her grandmother, who had been an active participant in her church for decades, stopped mumbling and rocking. She began to hum. Soon after, Melendez says Mrs. Senodenos started to sing.
Melendez felt a sense of peace come over her grandmother as they, joined by Melendez’s parents and brother, sang together. “It is so agonizing to watch my sweet grandmother, who gave me and everybody around me everything. I could not let her suffer.”