Inspiration to share your stories with your friends, family, children and grandchildren. In doing so, you leave a beautiful gift of you and the dreams you pass on ...
I stand alone on the narrow path leading out to the marina lighthouse. White stones stacked high form the jetty walkway. It’s a windy, cold afternoon and the Marina is deserted except for a few boats and a Cypriot family of five gathering on the path. I listen in, trying to understand their words as they laugh and talk together. I see there’s Mama and Bapa and Bapous and Yiayia and that’s little Nikos, I suppose – the one Bapa is talking loudly to.
I smile to myself, feeling curiously connected to this Cypriot scene. A strange sense of entanglement sweeps over me as I acknowledge my connection to a land I do not know – connected by my Australian born, Cypriot husband, John, as he was connected to his Baba by birth and by blood.
In the last year of his life, I recall being captivated as Baba shared stories of Cyprus - how as a young boy, growing up in his village, he would hungrily watch the old olive press; round and round it would go, crushing out precious liquid gold. He’d sneak bread from the kitchen and tearing away the crust, dip into the olive oil as it drained straight off the stone press into the basin of water. As he scooped the bread back to his mouth, I can see his cheeky smile and imagine the virgin oil dribbling off his lips and down his chin.
Baba told stories of freedom filled days, where he would run and lay peacefully beside the pebbly creek that crossed the family property. He told me how he and his cousins played football with the bladder taken from the pig killed for a village feast. He spoke of how on the weekend he would ride his bicycle to the nearby beach to bathe in the Mediterranean with his mates. As Baba shared his stories with me, I’d watch his marbly eyes glisten wet with the memory of his youth.
And now, here I stand on his beloved Cyprus’ soil. I lift my eyes past the white stones of the Marina, past the colourful fishing boats moored at the jetty and past the Cypriot family. My eyes are drawn out across the ocean to the thin, almost transparent horizon; that arc-shaped thread separating the here from beyond.
If only Baba were here. What would he say? If only he could see us, now, in his beloved Cyprus.
“A strange sense of entanglement sweeps over me as I acknowledge my connection to a land I do not know "
We’d stand side-by-side and I’d point to the fishing boats, I’d point to the mountains, and I’d point to the cellophane blue sea. I’d say, "Baba, Cyprus is so, so beautiful!" And he'd look at me thoughtfully, raise his hands, palms facing heavenward, and respond in all his charming Cypriot arrogance...
"Well, of course it's beautiful!”
John in the distance returns from his walk. As he gets closer, I watch him smiling. Wisps of his chestnut hair curl in the breeze. He stops and stands beside me and looks out at the horizon. I reach out and take his hand in mine. “Do you think of your Father often here?” I ask.
“Yes, all the time. I feel his presence,” John’s eyes glisten wet, just like his father’s had a year earlier.
Standing there together with John, in that moment, I knew Baba had finally returned to his beloved Cyprus. Not alive in flesh as he’d always hoped for, but through his son John. Though Baba had passed this life without ever saying goodbye to his father, his mother, his sister, his brother or any of the cousins with whom he’d played pig’s bladder football with, he’d discovered the portal back to his homeland.
Through the stories he shared Baba inspired John, his son to return to his birthplace and experience all that he had longed for in his heart.
R.I.P. dear Baba, you made it home.