Two funerals, one hospital visit and more progress on the house

It is with the greatest sadness that I report that Pappous, Greek grandfather to James and Amalia was found by Lia, his daughter, dead in his apartment in Athens.  The childrens Dad texted them the news as he dropped everything to fly out to Athens on the first flight.  It is not time for recriminations about the validity of his choice now.  The children are bereft, and in a curious action to salve my own grief  I wrote on Facebook the following

R.I.P Dimitrios Flarakos-Flaris, beloved Grandfather to James and Amalia, gone to the arms of his wife Chrysanthi Flarakou-Flari. Known as Mitsos or Baba Mitsos he epitomized the true Greek man. He lived to a code of loyalty and honesty putting his family and the pursuit of good food before anything else. He thought nothing of buying 2 kilos of the best feta at a time and was renowned for his love of “brizoles hoirines” (pork chops) the size of a grown mans forearm. There are no words of thanks I can say to this wonderful man for the love and generosity he showed the children, never once letting them down and never once withdrawing his love. May he rest in peace

Mitsos was mystified when his son Tzanetos bought me home following a tryst on the island of Crete.  He later told me I was the thinnest woman he had ever seen and he feared for my life.  From the moment he met me he insisted on trying to feed me two of the humongous “brizoles hoirines” whenever possible.  I learned Greek from him and the value of reuse, not for sustainability but for reasons of curmudgeonliness; he was a child of war when many Greeks died of starvation.  He had, in his working life, delivered a bailiffs note on a supermarket and his payment was the contents therein.   The basement and any spare room in his apartment block was absolutely crammed with the contents of the supermarket.  No matter that they had been there more than 10 years.  Chrysanthi his wife, now departed, was forced to use everything she could from cleaning products to hygiene products.  In fact one year he opened a tin of delicious apricots for me and I was so ill with food poisoning that I was very nearly hospitalised.  Of course Mitsos refused to believe it was the 10 year old apricots!  I never held it against him – it was difficult to hold anything against him because he was truly a fair man who held no grudges.

He lived from spring to autumn in his beloved caravan in a Greek “Kamping” in Vravrona in Xamolia on the Athens coastline.  For many years he had a boat that he would take the children out fishing in.  The Kamping was private and populated by about 40 families, lawyers, doctors, engineers and all other professions in between.   There wasn’t a sandy beach it was set on a rocky outcrop that was fenced in.  There were no shops or signs of tourism.  It was a place where decent families bought their children and grandchildren to run free like little savages in the safety of an enclosed environment.  Everyone knew each others names and their children to boot. Strangers were strictly forbidden entry so that the children could quite literally run riot from early morning to late night because where ever they went someone was watching out for them.  It was an idyllic place and James and Amalia spent every year of their childhood and most others to this day.  Raucous parties were held to celebrate all saints days and name days so their was always some form of celebration going on and always a bbq or spit on the go with the fantastic smells permeating the nearby mountains.vravrona

So Pappous is laid to rest today and I’m sure Chrysanthi, who no doubt is waiting for him at the pearly gates, castigated him on A) taking so long to get their and B) not managing to be fully dressed when he passed away.  So I hope you are looking down Mitsos because I know those wonderful coal black eyes would be crinkled into a soft smile at all the fuss. R.I.P

Denise, Terrys Mum is also having to organise a funeral for an aunt, who sadly had no-one else to do it for her.  As Denise was the only named relative the financial burden fell to her and it was not one that could be shouldered.  With great moral fortitiude she decided to allow the council to undertake the burial.  Even with a £750 grant it is impossible to bury anyone for less than £1,600 and that is a very bare bones funeral.  How sad that even burying a soul is more expensive than a luxury family holiday.  It will be a small funeral but it will mark her passing, may she also rest in peace.

Dani was rushed to hospital Tuesday night in the early hours with what was feared might be meningitis, so great was the pain in her neck and back.  We were oblivious till the next day when Denise, her Nan rang to tell us.  After a barrage of tests in which a lumbar puncture might have been necessary Dani rallied and was diagnosed as having uber flu and sent home with pain relief.  Hopefully she rallies for her birthday tomorrow.  I’ve used this picture of Dani which is about 3 years old but has her beloved cat Archie in it!  Sorry Dani 🙂

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When I arrived home from work yesterday I was met by Terry dismantling the scaffolding.  My heart sunk but I had to man up, get into my working clothes, stuff a cheese sarnie down my throat and go and join him.  It is a tense, heavy experience fraught with danger.  Terry as usually was his herculean self but it didn’t take away from the fact that towards the end we were trying to dismantle six 21 foot steel scaffolding poles, basically at the same time.  It involved torturous balancing of the poles on my side whilst Terry loosened the bolts so that we could safely lower them to the ground.  We had parked both the van and the car directly in front of the house so that if the worst came to the worst the poles would fall first on them rather than any unassuming pedestrian or passing vehicle.  It was a change of under cracker moment when the final pole went down.  The front of the house looks much smarter but very bare.  I have to ask my Mom with her green fingers to give the front garden some love and a splash of colour.

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The plan of action after work today is to finish all the touching up of paint upstairs right down to the hallway and get the underlay ready to lay the carpets tomorrow.  This might be interrupted by the return of Amalia.  She didn’t want to go to Pappouses funeral as she starts Uni on Monday but doesn’t want to be by herself either.  We will have to drag her mattress out of the loft and put her in the front room with the rolls of carpet!  Vinnie will be besides himself with glee.

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We will also finish off any filling required in the back room as that is where we will concentrate our efforts this weekend as well as taking out the kitchen in preparation for the new one.  The back room really requires a considerable amount of work though most of the structural work has been done and the floor is sanded.

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Hopefully Mondays post will be full of pictures of the backroom all but finished – I do hope so

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