As I write to friends all over the world, I often marvel at how things have changed. It's not unusual for people to be born in one country, then move to several, maybe with family, then move again, from one place to the next, as they follow various careers.
Like most in Australia, I come from a family of immigrants... few of us don't. My Greek grandfather left the village of Potamos in Kythera, in 1904 to try his hand in a new country. He had been a farmer and a guard at the Greek palace.. here he started out as so many before him, as a kitchen hand in restaurants owned by fellow Greeks. He went into partnership with his cousin, also from Kythera and had a cafe in Bellingen, previously having been in Grafton.
I wish I could ask him why he then decided to go back to farming, this time in Whiporee, near Casino... then Aberdeen, then to Urunga, where he farmed for the rest of his years. My grandmother grew cotton and spun it, then wove it, before also leaving Kythera and coming to join her husband.Their children became farmers, cafe owners, soldiers, truck owner/drivers, worked on the railway, hoteliers, small business owners... then came the grandchildren...
Occupations changed. Here we have bank tellers, businessmen, a geologist, teachers, university lecturer, small business owners, cosmetician, media promotions director, transport operator, lawyer, timber importer, company representatives, managers, with partners as lawyer, travel agent, theatre manager, chemist, medical representative, small business owners, developers, property managers... I'm sure to have missed some. The great grandchildren have become lawyers, public relations directors, company owners, health insurance representative, computer security, engineers, swimming teacher, DJ, entrepreneurs, project manager, writer, nutritionist, and various other careers along the way...
So many have travelled overseas, most for pleasure, many to Greece and other countries, some for business... to all parts of the globe... None of this is unusual for families today, but if we could chat a while to our ancestors, what would they think of all this? Do mothers feel any different today as they wave their loved ones 'farewell' than mothers of long ago? At least today, we have communication previously unheard of... we can email, or pick up a phone... We can sit in our homes and see the person we are talking to in 'real time' via webcam. We can send them videos via the internet; photos, not needing film, can be sent via email or uploaded to the web, then family and friends invited to see them... at their leisure. The miles fade away as instant communication keeps families in touch...
As I picture my grandfather's family seeing their son leave for a virtually unknown country, I can feel their heartache... knowing that in all probability they would never see them again... was it any different for my maternal grandmother's Irish parents? They, too, watched their family leave for Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada.
Bronze figures, Fleetwood, Lanc
Though both families were filled with hope, that their children would never have to endure the hardships they had in their native lands, the tears of the mother still rolled down a quivering lip; the firm handshake or hug of the father lasted just a little longer, while they tried so hard to keep their emotions confined and hearts still break a little more with each goodbye.