Monday, August 22, 2011

Fond Father-in-Law Memories

Several days ago, my father-in-law passed away in Greece. I've been down and depressed about this, but have decided that he would want me to keep moving forward and would be happiest to know that I am enjoying life as much as possible--as he always did. Rather than write a tearful post about him, I will leave you with fond father-in-law memories that make me smile whenever I think of him.

1. I was about 18 when I met my future father-in-law. I had no idea what to expect. He was extremely small, and the day I met him, he had on no shirt and his back was all covered with gray fur. He had a decidely joyful twinkle in his eye and a smile that was simply charming. He spoke broken English but made sure, now matter how many times he had to try, that I understood what he was saying. "You 'stand? Traci, you 'stand?"

2. He liked to dress up to go to church on Sunday, and he really wanted me to go to church as well. He was the most religious man I have ever known, praying over his meals, and blessing my husband and I whenever we left the house. I remember waking up on Sunday mornings to him carrying an incense burner and leaves dipped in holy water with which to sprinkle at me and bless me, my husband, the room, and the entire house as he went along singing prayers in Greek. He often said when things were questionable or the outlook was not bright that it was up to God.

3. I like spinach. It was a dish my dad served up boiled with a little vinegar. My father-in-law made me LOVE spinach the first time I bit into a still warm piece of his homemade spanakopita (spinach pie). He had rolled out the crust himself.

4. He made the best lentil soup, hands down. No one made it like him. I watched him make it several times and have hopefully learned his tricks.

5. One time, when I was growing a garden in the backyard, he came outside to inspect. I showed him what was planted. My father-in-law loved garlic. I was happy to show him that I had some and pulled one for him. In his excitement, he peeled it and ate the whole thing like an apple, right there. He said it was delicious. But his eyes were tearing up from the heat.

6. On the nights when I came home late from college classes, he always made me "cheese special" which was his own invention of a slice of feta drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper that he then microwaved. It was the best.

7. He was an extreme couponer. Every Wednesday he collected all the grocery store ads and drove all over town to get the best deal on food. Once he bought turkey for .04 cents a pound. He liked to remind me of that many times after I bought a turkey for .39 cents a pound. Forget that the turkey he bought was the size of a small chicken and mine was 20 pounds. In fact, I think we heard about the .04 cents a pound little turkey for a few years. He was very proud of that bargain.

8. I don't like fish. He never stopped trying to get me to eat fish. Being polite on his behalf, I once ate a piece of pickled fish he brought on the plane back from Greece. It had been pickled raw mind you. *gag*

9. He used to bring huge wooden crates of olive oil from Greece because it was "the best oil". He also loaded his suitcase with Greek cheeses, candies, and baked goods. Whenever he arrived here it was a feast.

10. He used to slice pieces of apple and float them in his wine after dinner.

11. He was a hard working man. My husband once told me that his father always told him: "If your butt doesn't sweat, you won't earn any money." My father-in-law and his wife could clean the whole yard up in two days after 6 months of neglect. They could work a weed-eater, leaf-blower, hoe, and any other garden tool like pros.

12. When I had my first child, my father-in-law and his wife came from Greece and stayed to take care of that baby so I could go back to work. They also renamed the baby, Andreas, after my father-in-law. And after a while, I was okay with that.

13. When I went to Greece to baptise my son, my father-in-law took me, pregnant as I was, to the local village farmer's market and bought me whatever kind of fruit I wanted, and some that I just thought looked interesting. We had a LOT of fruit.

14. My father-in-law loved me like I was his own child...and maybe more than his own son sometimes. He liked to take my side, and in arguments, he always wanted me to take his.

15. He always tried to have me explain bank statements, doctor's records, and social security statements to him, even though I do not speak much Greek at all.

16. When he came to visit this summer, he went on my weekly Costco run with me and insisted on pushing one of the carts. He wanted to go the following week as well. He never wanted to stop going and doing.

17. My father-in-law taught me how to make Greek style olives, from picking the fruit from the tree to preserving it. This summer when he visited he ate some of the olives I made and said they were delicious.

18. He liked my weak coffee better than my husband's freshly ground strong coffee.

19. He spoiled me. He spoiled my kids. If they wanted chocolate milk and there was none in the house, he'd go out to the store just to get it for them.

20. When he fell down at the ranch on his last visit and was upset that he did, I told him not to worry and said, "If you fall, I will pick you up." Luckily our 4-H neighbor girl happened by that day and we both got him into my truck safely. Sometimes we all fall down and need someone there to help us. He'll always be in my heart to help me when I fall down. He will always be remembered and loved by every person he ever knew. He loved life and enjoyed it all he could until it was time for him to go. But he will never really be gone because he lives on through every person who loved him.


  1. Yeap that was Andreas


  2. I will always remember his sweet smile. He was a very special man, a great father and an incredible grandfather. It was clear how much he loved and adored his grandsons. And his love story with his wife was what we should all inspire to. He will be missed.

  3. So much of that I remember as well. He was always very proud of his olives (the first REAL Greek olives I ever had) and his "vats" of olive oil. When I saw him he always seemed genuinely happy to see me. The language was different but with him was never a barrier. And even since I first met him when I was just out of high school, he would always have some alcohol creation to try. Ouzo, wine, Greek 'mystery' beverage. I will always remember him and Kiki saying, " drink." And who was I to refuse! He made everyone feel welcome. I will miss him.
    ~ Mitch(aka: Mitchie)