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There was a time when many Region neighborhoods had one: that special house where all the kids hung out together.
Pamela Mamouzelos fostered that kind of gathering space at her Hammond home, with deliciously prepared Greek meals and a swimming pool that drew all of the neighborhood kids, Pamela’s daughter, Sofia Perez, recalls.
Summers were an endless cascade of pool parties and other gatherings, with one event constantly blending into another and at any time there was a cause or excuse for celebration.
Mamouzelos had a penchant for shooting home movies, and many of these friends-and-family gatherings were captured on her camcorder, Perez said.
She volunteered at all school functions for her children and became the devoted and affectionate Yia Yia (grandma in Greek) as her children grew and had children of their own.
“She had so many friends,” Perez said of her mom, the matriarch of a large Greek Region family. “She was always laughing. Always giving. Always throwing the parties.
“She was the light our lives. So when we lost her, it was a huge hit for all of us.”
Perez, of Highland, and her family lost Yia Yia to COVID-19 two days after Christmas.
“It just dimmed our whole lives,” Perez said.
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“A lot of those people (Perez’s childhood friends) reached out when my mom passed away, and that’s exactly what they told us — that we remember your mom like our second mom growing up…
“We were the house to be at, always.”
Yia Yia’s three children and eight grandchildren have so many rich memories, Perez said, thanks in part to that proclivity for shooting photos and home videos.
Mamouzelos loved her life and family and had everything to fight for.
And she would begin the fight of her life the week of Thanksgiving.
The Monday before Thanksgiving, Perez’s children were baking cookies with Yia Yia. Later that night, Yia Yia called Perez, describing illness symptoms that suggested possible COVID-19 infection.
— Beutee (@BeuteeS) March 10, 2021