Monday, May 18, 2009

Peter Yacoumis

I was fortunate 36 years ago to meet Nick Yacoumis and fall in love with him. Then I met his family and again I fell in love with them. When Nick's dad died last week I had the privilege to write and deliver his eulogy at his funerel. The day itself was a balmy sunny Autumn day . I was not sure whether I would make it through without breaking down so I had a couple of contingency plans of them being Bethany our 8 year old grand daughter ,Peters great grand daughter who volunteered to read it. I somehow don't think she would have been able to do it as she was the most distressed of all the kids . As I stood up to walk to the lecturn I realised the enormity of what I was doing. There was a large attendance. As I looked up to start speaking, from some where I received a feeling of calm and peace and was able to talk and chat about Peters life on this earth. I was so proud of all the grandchildren as they were very respectful of the occasion. We are all going to miss him for a lot of different reasons but there is a little bit of him in his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and his great,great grand daughter. Mostly, the man I married is the epitomy of his dad. What a legacy he has left to this world. The Funeral Director Mike commented to us on the day we organised his service and after the funeral what a great feeling he had helping us organise the celebration. Dad did not particularly like flowers so we brought Olive branches from his trees, some tomatoes from his garden and almonds from his trees that he had cracked. These were all placed on his coffin. We also had Chocolate frogs for all. He was named Grandpa Frog by Ella so she could decide which grandpa we were talking about. He was named that because he would give the grand children a chocolate frog when they came to visit. I have also posted a copy of the eulogy if you want to peruse.We are so happy Dad was home and independant until the end. Still driving, playing bingo and cards the week before he went into hospital. No wonder he had a smile on his face.
29/01/29 – 11/05/09

Dads Eulogy

Peter Yacoumis, let’s celebrate his life.
My name is Gabrielle and I have been married to Nick, Peter’s eldest son for 35 years. Dad was 80 in January and we celebrated with a surprise family gathering. There are a lot of people here that were at that celebration and were happy to share that time with him. 80 years is an incredible amount of years to live.
Dad started his life in Chios in 1929; he immigrated with his family in 1939 at the start of World War II. Not long ago we were talking with Dad of the sea voyage out to Australia from Athens. He said all the children had the run of the ship; they would help set the dining room tables and could have all the broken biscuits that were there, he said they became experts at breaking biscuits. During the voyage a German warship circled them and decided to let them pass, the next ship that left from Athens to Australia didn’t make it. It must have been an incredible time, as their mother travelled with her mother and his three brothers, Michael, John and Nick. His dad came out to Australia months earlier, they settled in Waymouth St Adelaide.
The family owned the Golden Sun bakery and delivered bread by horse and cart. Later when dad grew up, he met mum and courted her by riding his pushbike from Adelaide to Inman Valley (near Victor Harbour) to see her, that is a round trip of 170 kms. No gears on the bike in those days to get him up Willunga hill. They married in 1950 and had 4 children within 8 years - Marilyn, Nick, Dianne and David. They moved to Maylands later and that was about the time that Nick recalls their life. They then moved to Parafield living in a shed and working glasshouses, they put down foundations for their home and were told not to put up power lines because of low flying aircraft, and now of course it’s totally built up all through there.
So they moved to Rosewater and owned a mixed deli, Nick remembers early mornings going to the markets for produce. They then moved to Angle Vale in 1960, it was a long trip in those days in their 1929 Chevrolet with Uncle Mick and his Chevrolet truck – no sealed roads then. Again they had a market garden and glasshouses. They all moved in to the old farmhouse which is still standing today. Just. 4 adults and 7 children living together in the divided house. The funny thing is that we did the same thing with Nick’s brother David who married my sister, Julie, and their 2 children Paul and Lee, and our three children, Rachel, Nicole and Adam.
Dad was a hard worker and always seemed to have two jobs at once, always the glasshouses and travelling all the way to Chryslers at Tonsley Park, Jon fruits, Simpson Pope and Horwood Bagshaw for the afternoon shift. He developed a love of fishing with mum; they would pack tomatoes on weekend mornings, deliver to Virginia, visit mum’s parents and dad’s parents and then head off to the jetties. That is where Nick and David developed their love of fishing. We all used to go often, with the kids sleeping overnight on the jetties. How many fish did we all catch!? No wonder the oceans are fished out!
My first memory of dad was on a jetty, that was where I was introduced to them. I loved them immediately and always thought of them as mum and dad. After finishing his working life in his early 50s, they fished as often as possible, and would always be off to St Kilda or Pt Giles for a feed of mullet. Mum and dad loved their Bingo and would go several times a week. Marilyn said the funny thing is dad said they went too often, it cost too much money yet after mum died in 2003 he actually went more often. We never had a birthday celebration that would clash with bingo. He kept going to bingo, no matter what. The times he couldn’t go due to ill health, we would be sure to receive a phone call from concerned people that sat with him at bingo. The crowd from Bingo signed a get well card to dad when he was in hospital; one of the messages was from a 14 year old girl that adored him, as they all did. He was like that. That girl’s mother, Sue came to the hospital to drop off the card.
The girls at my work, where he came to visit, often bringing produce from his garden, all loved him too. It seems to me, after chatting to family and friends over the last few days, that he was loved and liked by all. He was a strict, but fair father and grandfather. Vanessa remembers ‘no eating or drinking in the lounge or while watching TV’ We all got together every Sunday for a BBQ or roast, we expanded to two big tables – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – always lots of food, followed by huge bowlfuls of ice-cream and stewed fruit from their trees. We will miss his produce, he managed still at the end to grow the best tomatoes (one of the last things he said was ‘don’t forget to water the tomato plants, and you can pick some too’) fantastic olives for that delicious olive oil and let’s not forget the almonds.
Several of the grandchildren have fond memories of sitting next to dad on the seat cracking almonds. When we picked fruit we were only allowed to take what we needed, we needed to leave some for ‘others’ even if the tree was overloaded. Nick said, and I quote ‘Dad was a beautiful person with never an angry word, except when they set fire to the thatched roof shed that housed the tractor etc’ after that they had to weed around the house for a long time. Nick said he never heard him swear, he didn’t complain about his health until the last few weeks. His arthritis worsened and interfered with his fishing, yet he went out fishing to St Kilda the week before he went in to hospital. In the last few months, as his doctor and hospital visits increased, everyone that treated him commented on what a lovely person he was.
We will remember the Greek picnics at Victor Harbour, Greek weddings, our holidays together, Guy Fawkes and bonfires. Nicole said ‘I can’t imagine how many candles on birthday cakes he witnessed being blown out’. We also will remember card nights, Canasta, Joker, Rummekin. He was still playing cards with John, Nick and Sally until he went to hospital. I am sure they will treasure those nights forever. I remember playing Canasta and joking around with Mum and Julie and being told off by dad for not concentrating or playing sensibly. We will remember picking olives, particularly last season, when we had a weekend with our family, their kids and Marilyn’s friends, and we will do that again this year for the last time. We will remember cracking almonds, crabbing at St Kilda. We will remember him in the corner reading a book, a newspaper, a magazine, anything and everywhere – even our kids Dolly magazines.
We will remember him sitting at the kitchen table, making cups of tea, serving us sultana cake and Arnotts cream biscuits. Someone sent me a text message saying he was an honourable man ... that he was. He achieved such a long life, with a fantastic no nonsense attitude to life, hard working ethics, healthy eating and lots of exercise. He was patient with his grandchildren, all 12 of them and then his 17 great-grandchildren, and also his great-great granddaughter, what an achievement. He was named Grandpa Frog by our grandchildren, because when they came to visit, he would give them a chocolate frog.
He managed to stay at home, right to the end, independent as always, thanks to David for watching over him. The great thing about living a long time is the sameness about that person and his life. That is what we will miss.
29/01/29 – 11/05/09