My aunt Elefteria Vlahos passed away on 23rd May 2017. Today was her funeral service at St Spyridon Church in Kingsford, where we gave thanks to God for her life and contribution. Elefteria is survived by husband Zafiris, and two daughters, Christine and Magdalene, son-in-law John, and 6 grandchildren.
I cannot sleep.
Elefteria was heroic in my eyes... from the day I could remember she battled with breast cancer. Today I found out that she overcame the disease 3 times. Just as many as Anni Parker.
My fondest memories of Elefteria were at her home in Kensington but also at Ellie's shoe store. She was a generous soul.
Today we learnt during her eulogy that she was especially fond of babies... evident from the many she herself raised in her care. I still remember how she leaped for my little daughter at her 70th birthday as she cut her cake, surrounded also by a myriad of male grandchildren and grand nephews! Boys... boys... boys...
But then she had her two big girls! Oh how she loved her kids. I know any mother would do anything for her girls, but Elefteria actually did. I think how Christine and Magdalene will go on without her here on earth-- but such is her memory, and powerful legacy-- she will provide even from her resting place.
There were so many people at Church. So much like old times when our larger community would meet to celebrate together on weekends on excursions and picnics. Today, though we said 'goodbye' temporarily, was one of those occasions. Magdalene said to me: "no tears, Katina"... but it was hard to keep them from coming.
Fr Stephen noted that some live their life only to die without faith, and yet Christians die to the world to live on... the words struck me.
1 Corinthians 15:31-33 "I die daily"
Elefteria, as her mother before her, was a believer. In her final months and days, I heard from many, that she gave a multitude of blessings, thankful for all who gathered around her. She even somehow made it to the 1 year memorial service of her niece last month... but that was just her.
A feeling of peace overwhelmed me this afternoon. It continued all the way to Botany Cemetery, and later at the traditional gathering for lunch--
How dignifying the Christian Orthodox burial is for a human being who has lived a long life, struggled through illness, and has been challenged by life in every which way.
Mother of the never setting Sun, Parent of our God, O preserve them that set their hope on you; intercede, we pray you, with our greatly gracious Lord, that repose may be granted him (her) that now is departed. In that habitation where repose the souls of the Just: and unto everlasting remembrance set him (her) in the courts of the Righteous, made all-blameless, as the heir of blessings divine.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Looking on me as I lie here prone before you, voiceless and unbreathing, mourn for me, everyone; brethren and friends, kindred, and you who knew me well; for but yesterday with you I was talking, and suddenly there came upon me the fearful hour of death: therefore come, all you that long for me, and kiss me with the last kiss of parting. For no longer shall I walk with you, nor talk with you henceforth: for to the Judge I go, where no person is valued for his (her) earthly station: Yea, slave and master together stand before Him, king and soldier, rich man and poor man, all accounted of equal rank: for each one, according to his (her) own deeds shall be glorified, or shall be put to shame. Therefore I beg you all, and implore you, to offer prayer unceasingly for me to Christ our God, that I be not assigned for my sins to the place of torment; but that He assign me to the place where there is Light of Life.
Both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
May your memory be eternal Theia Elefteria. Thank you for all you gave us.