On June 17, 1953, about midday time, in a small provincial town in the Northern East of Greece, under the name of Alexandroupolis, a young girl of 5 years ran from her parent house to an aunt’s home shouting: “ Theia Polyxeni, irthe o yios” (Aunt Polyxeni, the son has just arrived). It was about the announcement of a newly born baby boy, a matter of pride to any Greek family. That infant was me, and the enthusiastic young girlie was my older sis, Mary (Maroula).
I remembered the story in a flash this morning about 3 am when during my now regular insomnia I have been checking SMSs and voice mails to catch on.
It was the news from one of her two daughters that their beloved mother had just passed away, at 59. She suffered for a year now from a terminal form of the disease of our times and has been living under cancer statistics and hope for a miracle ever since.
We all feared the inevitable was likely to happen one day but the shock was still devastating. It is the feeling of death when a loved one ceases to exist among the rest of us and disappears for ever. I can hardly grasp what this might have brought about in pain to her family and kids.
I wasn’t too closed with my sis. We had a large age gap between us and in adult life when she got married to my wife’s uncle, a Bell Telephone Engineer, they traveled the world for years, Greece, Indonesia, Nigeria. When they eventually settled in Antwerp the last 20 years it was the time that I was traveling for business. Long story short, we were Living Apart Together.
Nevertheless, she never stopped to secretly love and admire me for what I have been doing, although, as a big sis, she would never miss the opportunity to tease me and instruct me as her kid brother on trivialities even at times I was 'rather important' managing hundreds of people spread in multi-country orgs. :-)
Confined to my room at a hospital, I won’t be able to attend her funeral on Friday. It was also her last wish to keep it close to her family with no-one else attending. What a brave soul! Elda, her eldest daughter and a rising star psychiatrist in the country, I dare believe, told me she would be cremated following a Greek-Orthodox ceremony and buried on Saturday at the Cemetery in Ekeren, nearby Antwerp.
Rest in peace, big sis. Your memory will live with me for ever, regardless how little quality time we have spent together...