blue moon (2)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Zoi Se Mas ©

Life is funny.
You don’t get asked if you want to come into this world and you can’t ask to stay when your time is up.

For the last month my family has been visiting my aunt at the hospital daily as she lay on her deathbed.
It was after a long battle with cancer but not a battle to beat the dreaded disease but a battle to hold on for just a little bit longer.
From the six months she was given when first diagnosed she milked it out to three years gaining an extra two and a half years.

Within that period she saw her daughter get married, her grandson graduate high school and to see relatives she hadn’t seen in decades from across the pond.
As my uncle, cousins and the rest morn the passing of my aunt at the hospital I sit here and reflect on the years and days that have passed recently.

All the years that I have known her she was laughing except these last few weeks when she was drugged up on pain killers but she did manage to squeeze one last big one to her grandson before she slipped into a coma.
It amazes me sometimes how people who have been through what someone like she went through, still find a reason to smile.

She along with the rest of our parents were born and raised during uncertain times.
Uncertain if you will eat.
Uncertain if you will have a home.
Uncertain if you will live.
Uncertain if there will be a tomorrow.

Two world wars
Civil unrest
A number of coups
Thousands dead and my family in the center of it all

When she came home as a child to find her aunt and uncles heads stuck on pikes at the front door of her house.
Communists, Royalists and the Democratic forces slaughtering people in the cross fire to take or keep power.

We were a fractured family with members on all sides.
Families split by the bloody blade in a quest to find a better life.
In the end, democracy won but only because they made a deal with the devil leaving the butchers free and forgiven for the blood they spilled to walk among the sheep they culled.
Her family was hit the hardest, half being murdered, men women and children alike.
Then disease took the other half.

Yet, with all that she went through she still smiled.
So with that in mind I will shift gears and write a couple of stories with her in them fist hand because I was there.

For years many Greeks were either cleaners or in the restaurant business.
I worked as a cleaner, janitor with my mother from the age of ten and by the time I was sixteen, company owners were constantly trying to get me to work for them because I had learned so much.

Over those years I had the pleasure of working with many people, my aunt being one of them.
Once when we were working for taxation my aunt and another woman were cleaning one of the long floors.
My aunt went in and cleaned out the garbage and dusted while the other woman came in behind and swept or vacuumed.

Usually most people were gone by that time of the night but there were some who would stay to catch up on their work.
My aunt went into one office and found a guy still at his desk working she quietly she worked around him but when she went to get his garbage can it was under his desk between his legs and she couldn’t reach it.
She stared at it for a little bit then leaned over and in her best broken English she excused herself and asked if she could get the garbage can.

He didn’t say anything to her but continued staring at the paper he was reading.
All she had left to do was get that can so she could move on to the next room.
In a louder voice she said, “excuse me” and pointed at the can between his legs.

He must be deaf she thought and went up close to him and touched his shoulder, “Excuse me”! then gave him a nudge.
The guy just fell over on his desk face down.
Hmm she thought.
They guy stays after work to sleep at his desk.
She went to the front and started shaking him trying to wake him up but he wouldn’t.
It was here it dawned on her that he wasn’t asleep but dead.

When she realized he was dead she freaked out and ran out of the office and down the hallway screaming at the top of her lungs.
Now, the Portuguese lady who was sweeping the floor behind her came out of the room in a rush when she heard the screams.
Neither my aunt or this woman could speak English so when my aunt blew past her yelling what ever she was yelling in Greek the other woman figured what ever it was it couldn’t be good so she dropped her broom and started screaming in Portuguese as she ran down the long hallway behind my aunt.

They went down the stairs across the hallway past the security guards who were woken up and out the front door into the parking lot.
Security caught up to the short fat Portuguese woman first and when they asked her why she was screaming and running away she said, “ I doo no”.
They caught up with my aunt half way home and she was barefoot.
The later found one of her shoes outside the dean guy’s office and the other halfway down the hallway.

Another time she and another one of my aunts came to work with me and my mother at this old hundred-year-old building, some kind of mining research place.
My aunts were working in a section where they x-ray samples but this day there was a guy in trying to repair one of the machines.
For some reason he couldn’t open the light but had a red light underneath to see what he was doing as he lay halfway into the huge machine.

There was a sign on the door which said there was someone inside working and not to turn the light on.
My aunt walked up to the door and went in.
It was dark and she couldn’t see much other than a red light near the floor and something else so she reached over and turned the light on.
When they came on she saw the still lower torso of a man sticking out of the machine.
After what happened at taxation still fresh in her head she freaked out and ran out of the room screaming.

She went out and down the hallway to the stairs and down.
My other aunt came out to see what was going on just in time to see a man come out of the room my other aunt had been in all ruffled up and a mess.
She freaked out and started screaming as she ran after the first one.

I was on the second floor and the both ran past me with some guy chasing behind them calling out to them that it was ok.

We always used to laugh when we recanted those stories.
When we used to work at NRC we would get up at 5:30am to take the bus for the hour trip to work.
All of us were half asleep at the bus stop and the bus driver honked to wake us up at times to get on.
I remember once on the bus as I sat there opposite my aunt, she was sitting on another bench seat next to a woman she didn’t know.
After ten or so blocks the bouncing and swaying of the bus had my aunt and the other woman passed out.
Five blocks later they were leaning on each other.
By the time we were half way to work a bunch of other who work where we work got on and they stared at my aunt when they passed as she sat there with this black woman sound asleep hugging each other.

She woke up when we got to work but she won’t from this sleep.
This is the big sleep and we will all be there to send her on her way.
I’m sure she is smiling

We say, “Zoi Se Mas” when we loose one of ours.
Like welcoming in a piece of their spirit
Life to you, to us “Zoi Se Mas”

Have a nice day



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itisi said...

She sounds like a sweet, tough, lady, Walker. She is in a better place now. I am truly sorry for your loss. (((HUGS))))

Boxer said...

this made me cry. What a lovely tribute to her and her entire family.

I'm sure she is smiling and happy that she's now released from her disease. Hugs to you and your family, Walker. xoxo.

"Zoi Se Mas"

BlazngScarlet said...

I am so very sorry for you & your family's loss.
But she will live on ... in the stories that you tell.
Beautiful tribute Walker, and I too have no doubt that she's smiling.
Keeping you & yours in my thoughts ....


Rain said...

May there be comfort in knowing that someone so special will never be forgotten.
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Sending you {{{hugs}}}

Anonymous said...

It's so nice to have those types of memories to hold onto when someone you love departs this world. They leave a little piece of that person in you. May those memories come to mind first when thinking of her, Walker.

Zoi Se Mas

gab said...

Im sorry to hear about your loss, with my dad's passing fresh in my heart and mind I can understand. Zoi Se Mas to our respective losses