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A True, Love Story

Nineteen years ago my husband Andonis bought a magnificent horse,he was strong beyond belief,had a great character and was promptly named by myself, Rambo.We needed him to pull the carriage we then had and he did this tirelessly and gave us all he had to give,in return he was very well looked after loved by everyone who had the luck to meet him.

He made yearly appearances in the local festivals and I can still vividly remember young children following the horse procession and asking of each other “which one is Rambo?”Few people could ride him with ease  because of his strength and I have known experienced riders return to the farm with blistered and bruised hands,a result of having to hold the reins tight enough to check his pace.

In 1997 he miraculously survived our farm fire,thankfully he had had the strength to break free but not before he suffered severe face burns.My husband spent weeks taking care of the many goats that had suffered and of course our beloved Rambo.He did recover thankfully with little evidence left of what he had endured and over the following years he led a carriage free good life.Our gentle giant was in semi retirement and leading the good life.

In 2006 my husband was approached by a carriage owner in Mitilene who literally pleaded to buy Rambo,because of the horses capabilities and good name and the deal was done.The understanding was that whenever the new owner decided to sell,Rambo would return to our farm.

I now jump to October 2010,my son Theo had served his army time and had decided to fulfill his wish of finding Rambo and making sure that he was being cared for,he found out that Rambo had been sold to someone in Plomari and Theo then made yet another long trip to check up on him.My son returned heart broken,the new owner had decided Rambo was of no use anymore and had just set him loose in the hills ,an old man discarded and left to fend for himself,we were disgusted but determined to right the wrong that had been done!!!!!

A while later Theo returned to Plomari with a friend to try to find  Rambo and with the help of locals they searched all day in the hills but they had no luck and returned dejected and angry.Theo had let everyone know that we wanted him back and that should he be spotted he should be caught and we would collect him.By this time winter had set in and our minds were running riot with the cruel life Rambo would be enduring,we could not get him out of our minds and we could not settle.

After Xmas my son and husband decided to try again,they made the same long journey and once again enrolled the help of the locals to comb the hills of Plomari all to no avail.He was nowhere to be seen and yet people insisted Rambo had been spotted and was indeed alive.This time when Theo and his dad left Plomari they told everyone that 50euros would be paid to the person that found him,not a kings ransom I know but we could not afford more.

A date that will go down in the history of my family,27th March 2011,Theo received THE telephone message saying that Rambo had been caught and was awaiting collection.WE WERE ECSTATIC!!!!!!!!

Theo arranged for his friend who owned a truck to pick Rambo up and bring him home the next day,he was coming home at last to be where he belonged.

He arrived on the 28th March and I was kind of prepared by Theo of what I would see.Nothing in this world could have prepared me for what I saw!

The day after, I arrived at the farm full of hope,excitement and longing,what I met was devastating and heart rending,here were the standing remains of some animal that I was supposed to believe was Rambo .On the ride up to the farm I had clutched my son and admitted that I didn’t think I was ready to face up to what I would see but was told to be brave,another friend had advised that I expect the worst and anything else I would cope with.These were total understatements,I got off my son’s bike and collapsed onto a nearby gate,I am not afraid to admit that I shed tears of guilt,shame ,anger and utter disbelief,who in this world could do this to an animal that had deserved so much more??????

Rambo has twisted front legs,his bones are ready to burst through his skin in places,his fur is dull and lifeless but worst of all his eyes have no life,those eyes tell a story that he can never tell.But the spirit has not deserted him,he remembers our farm and he gladly led himself into his old stall and is acting as if he never left.Words fail me at this point because he should hate us for letting him go,letting him endure so much in his old age but all he is showing us is love.When I plucked up courage to get close to him that first day his head was held so low but when I whispered his name he gently rubbed his head against my chest and my son said”he certainley remembers you Mum”.My heart almost exploded at that moment,this gentle old man was showing some kind of forgiveness that a human could never show,he was just glad to be home and I have no way of knowing if he understands that this is where he will live out his days.

One week later I plucked up the courage to revisit,I had carrots in hand and I wondered if the same love would be there,I need not have worried,I called his name and he staggered over to the fence to greet me.His head was held a little higher and joy of joys,I saw his eyes and they were alive,there was a glimmer of that spark that used to be .He and I stood there for almost an hour,he nuzzled me from time to time and I whispered promises that I dearly wish he understood because they came from my heart.This old man is almost 40 years old,we know that his days are numbered,but at least he is among people who really love him and hopefully he will live out his days with dignity,peace and love.

Before I finish This Love Story,I must add that on the day that I revisited we collected a yearling from Mitilene harbour,a gift from Theo’s uncle and an absolutely beautiful young thing.She has never been tied in her life and is obviously timid of her new surroundings but guess who she has bonded with from the first moment ,yes,Rambo.Apparently she never leaves his side and I find this wonderful,she could never have a better guide and mentor and I hope they both gain something from their relationship.

I am realistic about Rambo,he is in a bad state and I do know that he is in pain and I do admit to myself that the day may come when we have to make the decision to end it all but I find comfort in the fact that he is finally amongst those that love him and he will not end his days in those lonely hills

Rambo,our gentle old man,welcome home!


Greek Army.

Hello everyone, My name is Alaine and I have lived in Molyvos since 1986,here I met Andonis and in 1988 our first son, Theo was born followed 5 years later by our other son Yianni. In 1997 we decided that yes we could afford to marry and Andonis and I “tied the knot” in the lovely coastal village of Skala Sikaminea in the tiny church perched on a rock. Whilst my life here has had it’s ups and downs(to put it mildly)I can say that I have carved out a comfortable little niche for me and mine and now I find I am walking around with a  permanent knot in my stomach.

The reason for this being the arrival of Theo’s “call up” papers and now the rapidly approaching date of his departure, 7th February where the army takes control of him for at least the next 9 months! As if the emotional side to this isn’t enough I find the anxiety of even getting him to the camp on time very harassing and I have become aware that no-one in my family is able to tell each other of how they truly feel. Weird!

We know full well the seriousness of Theo reporting to his army post on time, who doesn’t, but just a tad of help from the army powers that be would have made this a less stressful time for us all. Theo was given a sheet of paper with details of where to report and what paperwork, x-rays and medical books he had to have with him. And that was it!

After a few telephone calls we were told that if we wanted the army to pay for his travel (very funny) Theo would have to apply in Mitilene and after 2 trips down there he was issued a voucher, was this a ticket in itself? Would he have to book a ticket on the ferry? Yet again we were in the fog and only by asking around did we find anything out and the run around did not stop there, we later found out that the army base is at least 4hours from Athens by bus and realised that he would have to leave the island 2 days earlier than planned. Because the army apparently refuses to let the new-comers in to the camp any earlier than the date given we then had to either consider a hotel for 2 nights or find some kind soul to let him stay with them till he could catch the bus to Sparta.

We have so many questions still to ask and still so much to do in the short time remaining and I find the knot growing in my stomach by the minute. All in all I am finding this whole experience somewhat like being pregnant for the first time, thousands have given birth before but this is a whole new experience for each mother and treats it as such, this is my first time at sending a son into the army and I don’t know what to expect and my emotions are running riot with me.    Call me silly but I have dreaded this for the last 21 years so I say lets get this show on the road and the sensible side of me is saying the sooner he goes in, the sooner he will come out. I will pack him off with all of my love and very best wishes and will be waiting eagerly for news from him, what more can I do!