When my grandparents came to the U.S. in 1908, the stage was set for me to become a hyphen between Greek and American culture. After my father's death in 2003, I went to Lesvos, my grandmother's birthplace, to unravel my heritage and explore my vanishing legacy.
On arriving, I found that philoxenia (which roughly translates to “friendship to strangers”) remains as strong today as it was in centuries past, and lines between generations are fluid. Children offer me fruit picked from backyard trees and their parents invite me in for coffee and conversation. Many Greeks today cannot afford to heat their homes, yet they continue to take care of visitors and each other. This is the Greece my parents told me about and this is the Greece I found.
One afternoon, I escaped from the mid-day sun to sit under seven-kilos of grapes hanging from thick vines. Above the sound of the piercing chirps of the cicadas, I heard a neighbor screaming for her grandson-- a companion exclaimed, “That is a voice to carry across the mountain!”
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