MY GREEK AUNT

I was fortunate enough to grow up in what we called a family of many nations..

My father’s parents were Greek born, having emigrated from Potamos, Kythera, a small island near the southern tip of Greece. My mother’s mother was from Co Clare, Ireland, yet both my parents were born in Australia. I inherited the light olive skin and dark hair from the Greek side I was told, but the reddish tinge ‘definitely came from the Irish’ according to my Irish Great Uncle Martin and his sister, Great Aunt Molly(Mary).

I have always had a fascination for other cultures.. part of my incessant need to keep learning. I never did learn much Greek, my father didn’t think it necessary as we were Australian, though he spoke fluent Greek. The few words I did learn were from Papauli and Dad’s sister, Mary. It’s not that I didn’t want to… and I can understand a little more than I can speak, which still amounts to very little.

You can imagine how excited I was when my Uncle Sim, Dad’s brother, arrived back from a trip to Greece with a lovely Greek bride, Koula. Here was my opportunity… They were married in Greece on Dec 26, 1960. Koula had left her family behind for a new life in our far off land. She had been born on Aitoliko, a tiny island, on Sep 17, 1926… her full name was Vasiliki Vissios, but we all called her Koula…. Yes, she would have been 90 today… I can’t imagine her as that old…

I still see her as that new bride, who spoke virtually no English , but was so keen to learn.  They livescand with us for a time when they first arrived and she and my Mum became great friends, despite the language difficulties.

I wanted to be able to help her to learn English and to learn more Greek in the process, so several afternoons a week, I would come from school, then take Aunt on the bus to our nearest shopping centre and we would spend an hour or so, wandering through the shops, pointing at different items .. Aunt Koula would tell me the Greek name and I would tell her the English. I think we spent most of that time laughing at each other’s attempts, but we did learn a little from each other, and she got out of the house for a bit also.

 

I wish you could know that you are still very fondly thought of.. and you held your own special place in our hearts. For me, you were my real Greek Aunt. I loved the way you loved us… the friendship you formed with my Mum and my Aunt Heather in particular. I saw your heart breaking when Mum died and you said how much you would always miss Peggy..You are now with them and your much missed family again..having left us on 16 December, 2012. I was privileged to spend some of your last hours with you, your son Theo and your daughter, Chriss… who will love you forever.

These images that follow portray just a little of your life… however they don’t show your sense of humour, your ability to make a joke at the most unexpected times and laugh in the face of adversity..nor do they cover your love of family, your love of dance and the kindness you shared..

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Happy 90th Birthday, Aunt Koula..we miss you.

Ancestor Chart Koula (Vasiliki) Vissios.png

(c) Crissouli 17 Sept. 2016

 

 

 

 

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MY LITTLE BIG SISTER

Today, 17th September, 2016  would have been the 82nd birthday of my little big sister, Stella Maude (nee Walsh).

Stella passed away on March 7th, 2016. I would simply like to remember her today with the following poem I wrote and first published on The Back Fence of Genealogy here and the following images… always in our hearts, sweet lady..

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Terry Maude, Peg Catsoulis, Stella Maude nee Walsh, Vince Catsoulis

1957

 

Missing you always.

ONE HUNDRED YEARS LOVED…

 

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George Catsoulis entered this world 100 years ago today. He was the fifth child and the third son born to Theodore Catsoulis and Chrisanthe (Coroneo). He was also the first of six siblings born in Aberdeen, New South Wales. The family moved to Urunga in 1927.

 

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(c) Catsoulis family

On the beach at Urunga, George is second from the right.

 

My father, the youngest, Vince, has told me that George was always fairly quiet and hard working, but could always see the funny side of life. I knew him as a loving family man, definitely one of my favourite Uncles for his kindness and generosity and it didn’t hurt one bit that he always had a very welcoming smile and hug.

Of course, I have to include how much my brother and I loved the huge Christmas stocking that arrived by train, when Uncle George and Aunt Heather won it in a raffle while at The Entrance. We’d never seen anyhing like it, it was ever so high, higher than us at least.

George married the love of his life, Heather Crombie, in Newcastle in 1953. They had known each other in Dorrigo, which is where George and Vince had the Dorrigo Cafe. My mother, Peg (Margaret Joy) Swadling, had met my father there also… and the girls were friends. They remained so for the rest of their lives, Mum always telling Heather that at least she was younger than her, by a whole three days.

 

dorrigocafe(c) Catsoulis family

The tall man at the back is Vince, the man beside him, in his suit, is George.mumdadkris

George and Heather moved to Coolangatta in the ’50s… where they had their first child, a daughter. George doted on his daughter and couldn’t wait to finish work at their Danceland Milkbar/Cafe to see her.

(c) Catsoulis family

 

 

 

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In later years, they were to live in various places including Urunga, and completed their family with a son, who was to follow his father everywhere, especially on the farm at the Coast and then later, in Brisbane. Sadly, the children were still very young when George passed away in 1971.

 

 

There is so much more to George’s story, but for now, I would like to mark the 100th Anniversary of his birth by remembering him with much love and assure him that he lives on in his loving family, his children, his grandsons and all the nieces and nephews to whom he meant so much.

Rest in Peace, Heather and George.. your legacy is not forgotten.

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(c)Crissouli Sept 15th, 2016