Our radio wakes us up to NPR every morning. My eyes were filled with tears this morning before they were even open. Again. I've been following the tragedy of fires in Greece since I first heard on Friday night and I am shaken by the grief it has caused this beautiful place. My parents are in Greece right now visiting their home there and all the family so I was quick to check on them. They are fine as are all of the dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I have there. The closest fire to them out of nearly 200 burning now is probably still 40 miles away. So many of you have emailed me with concern, some knowing my parents are in Greece right now and some of you just knowing that I'm Greek and that I may have family there. I do, lots of family and, thank God, they are all safe. Thank you all so much for your concern, really so kind.
My mom always brings me her plants to care for while they are away, so I'm watering them and keeping them alive. I can't stop thinking about those who have nothing but a garden hose to save their homes, their families, their lives. I've been thinking about childhood summers spent in Greece kicking around the village roads with my cousins. My Yia-yia's geraniums spilled, no, poured, over the stone walls of the family home. Such beauty. The people, the landscape, the spirit of the entire country, just beautiful. My heart is breaking some today for it all. I'll keep watering and praying. Thank you for sending your prayers eastward and over the ocean too.
with love, Anna
8/29/07 - Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers. I want to share this recent exchange with a reader in Athens:
Gia sou Anna Maria,
My name is Andromahi and I'm from Athens, Greece. I decided to email you when I read your article yesterday.
Your words touched me deeply. Even the title "Our Greece" shows how much you love this country.
It's very painful to see our country suffering so much. All these people who lost everything they had. Relatives, friends, houses, lands.
Entire villages and forests disappeared from the map in a single night.
We are watching on TV old people refusing to abandon their houses because their houses, simply, are their whole lives. Young people risking their lives to save people they don't even know.
This is the biggest tragedy for Greece since the 2nd World War. And everyone is wondering, "who is causing this tragedy?" and "why?"
And grief becomes anger...
Thank you for being so "Greek" Anna Maria. Thank you for praying for "Our Greece".
Gia sou Mahi, So nice to hear from you and how thoughtful that you wrote.
I wondered all my life about the phenomenon that my father must go through as an immigrant here in the states. My feeling was always that he never felt at home yet never felt away from either place. I've only been in a handful of times yet always have a bit of my heart there due to having so much family there.
When this horrible occurrence of the fires began I felt it in a way that I cannot describe. I know all those faces that I see on television. Not in real life but in my heart. I know that spirit that helps a stranger. I have never felt love for more. I have never felt more like it belongs some to me as I did when I watched it burn up.
Thank you for your words. My 9 year old son was almost in tears and said he wished he was there fighting for the land and that the people he saw could be here in safety. He was overcome with sadness for a place he has only seen as an 18 month old.
So my suspicion about my own feelings for must be true. It is in the blood.
With prayers, be well, Panagia mazi sou, Anna Maria