Monday, October 18, 2010

Not just a Brick Wall, but a Gaping Hole

Knocking down one brick wall after another over the last decade, each celebration of victory has been dampened by a twinge of guilt for not tackling our gaping hole. For our family, the gaping hole is our Greek heritage. When Nick and I were first married, we enrolled in a conversational Greek class, knowing that we wanted to meet his uncles, aunts and cousins living in Greece, the homeland of Nick's father. That was 39 years ago. With the advent of 2010, we still hadn't learned Greek or met his uncles, aunts or cousins living in Greece. And we know so little about our Greek genealogy!  For the other branches of our family, we have family history information extending back at least to the 1850s.  Not so with the Greek side of our family!

Rather than delaying a trip to Greece until we could overcome the language barrier and establish a relationship with Nick's cousins, we decided to enjoy Greece as tourists, deferring the finding of family to another trip.

We arrived in Athens with just a few hours to spare before the beginning of our tourAfter meeting our tour guide and the other members of our group, we were lingering in the lobby. I was overcome by the desire to find Nick's cousins, and I urged Nick to make a "Hail Mary pass" .

Armed with the knowledge that Greeks name their first born son after their paternal grandfather and that most of the family had migrated to Athens or nearby (and with the assistance of our tour guide and the desk clerk), we found a phone number for a Nickolaos Psaropoulous. In a matter of minutes, Nick was talking, and in English, to the wife of Nickos, his cousin. Nickos was at sea. Fortuitously, Nickos has a delightful sister, Panagiota, who enriched our two remaining evenings in Athens.

Our tour of Greece was spectacular, expertly architectured and executed, and filled with delightful traveling companions. We can hardly wait for our return visit.  We are especially looking forward to seeing Panagiota again, meeting more of the cousins, and learning about our shared heritage.

© 2010, Cathy H Paris

1 comment:

  1. Cathy,
    What wonderful photographs! Your virtual tour brings back so many great memories. I still can't believe your luck in finding Panagiota! And in the phone book! Clearly the ancestors were guiding you.