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Archive for Anastasia Giannakou

OUR FATHER, GIORGOS…….

A unique individual with a kind soul who was much loved by many.Georgios

Born in 1946 and raised in a traditional Greek household on Lesvos in the small village of Molyvos.  In his early years, Giorgos was significantly influenced by his Communist uncle (Gianni), who operated within the Greek resistance movement. Uncle Gianni was a lovely and extremely forward thinking man who fought strongly for his ideology. Unfortunately, his strong beliefs led uncle Gianni to get arrested and be confined to a tiny cell for many years.  The amount of torture he endured and the pour conditions he was left to live in, meant that upon his release he was no longer able to stand and confined to a wheelchair.  Subsequently at the end of the civil war, he was exiled to Russia.

In those days

In those days

This influence meant that Giorgo did not conform to the normal village way of thinking.  In 1968 Giorgos met Jenifer, our mother. A single woman from Australia, with two children from a previous marriage, 9 years his senior and who did not speak a word of Greek. Recounting the way our mother tells the story, it goes something like this:

Photos in the harbour house

Photos in the harbour house

Whilst on holiday in the small fishing village visiting my aunt and uncle, Norma and Percy who had relocated there from Australia, I went out to a “taverna” one night. In those days it was custom to have live music playing with bouzoukia and people would always get up and dance. At one point I looked over and I saw this man dancing “zeimbekiko”. I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him before but that was it for me. I fell in love with him the second I saw him dance. He was an amazing dancer”.

Dancing at Theo's 50th birthday party

Dancing at Theo’s 50th birthday party

Another night, with neither of them speaking each other’s language, our mother pulled Giorgos from the tavern to show him her two sleeping children.  Later, he took her to a room above the old gold shop in the village, and on his old wind up gramophone he played her a Harry Nilsson record. And so the romance began.  Speaking to them about this time in their lives, neither of them at this stage thought that they would end up getting married, having three children and living the rest of their lives together!

Dancing together on Jenifers 70th birthday party. He even sang to her.

Dancing together on Jenifers 70th birthday party. He even sang to her on that night in front of us all

When Jenifer returned to London, Giorgos set about teaching himself English, from a dictionary.  Jenifer made several return trips to Molivos where Giorgos would take her and her two children out on a small rowing boat and would sing to them.  He loved signing and had a beautiful, gentle voice and he would sing to us all the time. During sleepless nights you would often hear him singing and humming to himself

Giorgos made the easy decision to follow her to London one winter. One cold rainy morning, whilst Jenifer was waiting for the train to get to work, her legs turning to ice, she made the huge decision to leave everything behind and to move to Greece to live with our father.  She packed up her things and with two daughters, her mother and father in toe, Jenifer moved to Greece.

He loved to mushroom and after gathered them  they would cooking them. something they enjoyed

He loved to mushroom and after gathering them they would cooking them. Something they enjoyed

Giorgos and Jenifer married in 1972. The fact that he chose to marry a foreigner in those days with two children who was older than he is a testament to the way my father was.  He did not care that his parents disapproved of his choice; their marriage took place in Athens with their first born (Anastasia) by their side. It took over five years before his family started to speak with Jenifer.

Always with his cheeky grin

Always with his cheeky grin

Giorgos worked as a fisherman since he was a boy.  His father, as his father before that, owned fishing boats and he was taken out fishing with them from as early as he could remember. According to our aunt, Giorgos use to try and hide from his father in order to get out of going fishing, but they always found him and dragged him along. He adamantly denied ever being sea-sick, despite our aunts insistence that this was the main reason, but he would always have a cheeky grin on his face whenever we teased him about it.

Cheeky grin with his friend Angelos

Cheeky grin with his friend Angelos

Later on in life the family boat was handed down to him, which he captained for years. It was always remarked on by the local fishermen about what an amazing fisherman he was as he found fishing spots that people still want to get their hands on.

Lunch

Lunch

In 1982 Giorgos was approached by the United Nations.  He moved to Zanzibar in Africa to teach the Mediterranean fishing practice to the local people. He spent two years there.  Obviously the whole family went with him, taking everything including the kitchen sink (in fact, this is no joke; we still have photographs of the aforementioned sink that we took with us)

On one of his trips which he loved to do with Anastasia

On one of his trips which he loved to do with Anastasia

Returning to Molyvos, Giorgos continued his life as a fisherman until retirement.

Sadly Giorgos fell ill on the 12th December 2014, and was taken to the intensive care dept of Mytilene hospital. He was suffering with problems with his lungs, and after five weeks of fighting passed away on the 18th January 2015.

who has the most cheeky grin

who has the most cheeky grin

It is hard to write about our father and be able to convey in a few paragraphs about his life, his character, which was what made him the amazing person he was. He was an extremely intelligent, funny, generous, wonderful man with a cheeky smile that we will miss forever.

with Nadia enjoying a lovely meal

with Nadia enjoying a lovely meal

His unique character is evident in his last wishes; to be cremated, without fuss, and for his ashes to be scattered from a boat, into the waters of the Aegean, whilst ABBA’s classis tunes play loudly across the water!

His favourite cat , bully

His favourite cat , bully

Giorgos will be missed from all our lives, forever.

Sitting in Avlaki having his  tsipouro

Sitting in Avlaki having his tsipouro