Tribute by: Christina Mixemong
My Yiayia (Greek for Grandmother)
Georgia (Alex) Malaktaris was born in 1934
in Rochester, MN. As a youth she studied violin,
only giving it up when she married, as was the
custom at the time. She told me stories about
playing recitals and how mean the nuns were
if you hadn’t practiced.
My Yiayia was a huge supporter of mine. She never missed an orchestra concert or recital. When I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa, she even made it all the way from North Dakota to attend one of my doctoral recitals.
The impact my Yiayia had and still has on my life is so large it is hard to describe. All 13 of her grandchildren and her many great-grandchildren knew she loved us unconditionally. She had a way of making each of us feel like the most special person in the world when we spent time with her. Family is the most important thing, and everybody is welcome.
Through Yiayia I learned how to accept love even when I didn’t feel like I was worthy. She showed me I was, in fact, worthy of love. I strive every day to emulate the way she treated me with my own children and my students. We all have gifts to give the world. We are all worthy of love and support.
Her heart was so big. When we lost her, she left a huge gaping hole in our extended family. I feel the loss every day. Naming my studio after her makes me feel like her legacy is a firm part of my future. I speak of her often to my students. I use her violin books because I know she would have been against purchasing new copies just to preserve her old books. She would say, “Christina, those books are perfectly good. Just use them!”
When students enter Georgia Studio they are stepping into a loving space where everyone is welcome and everyone is loved unconditionally. Yiayia’s life’s work carries on in each of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family. We were all touched by her fierce love, and we are all better for it.