the family resting place

My mom comes from Paros. She was born here, as was her family for as far back as anyone can remember. Her mother’s family all came from the same area on Paros. Its like people in Tasmania – the old folks you still meet who were born and bred in one spot and never had any reason to leave or go anywhere else.

When we visited my cousin Niko, we drove past a lot of houses which mom pointed out along the way “That there belongs to my grandmother’s sister’s brother’s uncle, who died of a heart attack in ’75 after a fishing accident on his friend’s boat, the one your grandfather worked on with his best friend, who had three children, the youngest of which is the one who owns the restaurant we like to go to for fresh fish…” etc.

Anyway, confusing family lineage aside, the entire family was always buried in the area, and later, their bones were taken to the monastery for their final resting place… Yes, you heard read me right.

Greeks are the ultimate recyclers. In Greece we recycled graves. People are buried for a limited period, then they’re dug up, put in bone boxes and placed in ossuaries where the family can visit, light a bit of incense and pay their respects.

I actually think its quite horrific. Not only do you have to face the fact (again) that you’ve lost a loved one, you actually come face to face with the loved one yet again. Not in a pleasant way.

However… The site of our families ‘bone boxes’ is beautiful. At least my father, grandparents and other countless relatives have a beautiful view.

The monastery itself is now empty of nuns. In the past, during my grandmother’s childhood, it was a thriving place. The nuns ran a school for children and taught girls to weave and other handy housewife things. They had to… they relied on the locals for their food, living on whatever the locals were willing to give them.

 

The monastery grounds are beautiful and well maintained. Hopefully it’ll become a museum one day so people can visit and see how the nuns used to live.

 

 

 

Inside the small church of Agios Arsenios, mom found the key to the ossuary so we could go visit dad.

Now THATs a chandelier!
The icon of Agios Arsenios.
These little tags are called ‘Tama’ – something like a promise and a wish all in one. Ag. Arsenios was a miracle worker. People who need a miracle buy a one of these and hang it on his icon and pray for his help, while promising to do something (or not do it) in return for a miracle.

 Inside the ossuary we were able to find dad’s bone box but not my grandparents. Apparently they’ve been extending the place and they’ve moved boxes around.

Dad’s box with a photo of dad (left) and his father (right).  

I also found my mom’s grandmother’s box. I’d never seen this one before. I really wanted this photo! 

Isn’t it beautiful?

So, today has panned out to be a visiting day. This morning we visited Niko, then dad in his final resting place. In the afternoon we’re visiting some other relatives…

That’s the downside of living abroad and having a large family. A large greek family. Everyone wants to see me, I have to visit everyone, yada yada.

I thought having thousands of FB friends proved I was popular, but having to visit everyone I ever knew, or never knew I was related to, is really rubbing the shine off popularity!

Oh well… maybe sacrificing the worst day (so far, knock on wood) of my holiday to do some visiting is a good investment. Maybe mom will leave me alone for the rest of my stay (don’t hold your breath but where there’s life there’s hope).

How to cram as many cliche’s as you can into one sentence 101.

Its really windy today. I mean really windy. Its been windy since I got here, windy enough that clothes hung on the line are ripped to shreds about 2 minutes after they dry. And they’re dry 5 minutes after you hang them out. Speed drying we call it.

But the wind kicked it up a notch last night – I saw some australian tourists being blown down the esplanade complaining of the cold.

(NB when visiting a greek island, bring a sweater. You’ll need it.)

Hence a day of visiting.

Back to sea worshiping tomorrow.

z

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