Another Dreaded Phone Call.
Childhood memories yield way to the stark reality that those who helped make them must go away one day. Sometimes this happens much too early, sometimes not soon enough – if it happens slowly and painfully. Sometimes it happens in an instant. And we are left with only those memories.
My little girl gets such a thrill when exploring the ground, squatting down to get as close as possible to the teeniest, tiniest little insects, snails, lizards, pebbles, flowers. In Greece this past summer, Uncle Andreas, with his steady, calm presence, his patience, and his lack of judgement, was her audience, her teacher, her encouragement.
My little girl’s perspective on the passing of my dearest uncle came in the form of arms outstretched in front of her, palms upturned, shoulders shrugging, and saying “I met him one time, only one time, and now he died.” Hopefully, she’ll keep those memories of him, however faint.
I could write many words about my uncle. He is the one I look to as my prime example of the family man. His wife, my Aunt Dimitra, my father’s sister, is like a second mother to me. His children, my cousins, Miltiades and Yioula, are just like brother and sister to me. He is the constant, quiet presence of all the summer times in Greece, where we all gathered for our vacations. He was the rock.
Uncle Andreas was a high school principal and administrator, he was the chief finance officer of the teacher’s credit union, he was the organizer of a new political party in Cyprus. He was up at 4:30 every morning, reading and playing math games with equations that went on column after column, page after page, just for fun, just to keep his mind working so that it would not get stale.
Uncle Andreas gave me one final gift. He gave me an opportunity – an opportunity I had neither the strength nor the presence of mind to do at my father’s funeral just a few months ago. He gave me, with my aunt’s and my cousins’ permission, the opportunity to make a photographic record of the funeral and burial of the man who looms so large in my life. I realize more and more, as time goes on, that photographs are the way I am to communicate. In these photographs I am trying to communicate my love, my sorrow, and my many, deep emotions tied to this event and the life that was lived by this extraordinary man.
Memory Eternal, dear uncle.