(Mr. Leousis arrives at the entrance of the schoolyard to pick up a grade six class, which he will have this day. He asks the teacher supervising early morning bell, where would Ms. Acinom's grade six class lineup. He proceeds to take the group of students up to room 303, so they can begin the day's lessons. After taking attendance and handing out several stencils of work assigned to the class, he remarks :)
If you work quietly and do your work well, I will show you a video and then perhaps tell you a story.
(Except for Christopher, who is continually getting out of his seat without permission, the class is well behaved. Some, one hour later, students begin to turn in their work with the majority having completed. Mr. Leousis, now asks the class to stop what they are doing and that he will show this video entitled, What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό;) 2007 by Constantine Pilaios. He informs the class that this video is to be found on YouTube. He asks the students to copy the title in their agendas and see if they can view it with their family when they get home.
After viewing the video with the class, Mr. Leousis, initiates a discussion, asking students how this relates to their lives. Some students identify with the relationship of the old man and his son while another group wants to discuss how they love their grandparents and that their grandparents sometimes forget.)
Christopher, "the nuisance," is now very subdued. He has buried his face in his folded arms on his desk; students around him are starring. A girl next to him, signals Mr. Leousis, by placing her fingers on her eyes and pretending to rub them as if Christopher, is weeping. Mr. Leousis moves closer to Christopher and asks :), "Chris, are you alright?" (Christopher continues to hide his face in his arms and does not respond. Mr. Leousis addresses the class :)
Sometimes, things happen which are very upsetting, especially when people in our lives, our siblings, our parents, uncles, and aunts, are hurt by some event. These are dreadful happenings for young people like you to have to experience. However, there are some of life's events that inevitably will happen to all of us, that of growing old. I did not choose to show you this video to get anyone upset but for us to have a good discussion of what it means to get to be old. I sometimes see young people, in your age group and older, being disrespectful to older people, and that concerns me most.
You observed in this video; the old man's son was very disrespectful to his father. I don't think the young man was a bad person. As younger men and women, we forget that we would not be around if it were not for the sacrifices of our parents and their parents before them, our grandparents.
When I was a young boy of nine years of age, I lived in Greece in the city of Tripolis. There came a time when my family and I had to move to Athens, the capital city of Greece. Those who care to visit my blog on the Internet... (Mr. Leousis, pauses for a moment and brings up a slide on his computer that projects on the class SMART Board.) You can go to this address... (He points:)
...and there you will read about other stories I tell students. The story, I will relate to you today, took place right after, the story, known as "The Gypsy".
We had moved to Athens, from my hometown of Tripolis because I was to be examined by these specialist doctors. I had received "The Light" and this had caused my body temperature to rise to a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius. For those who are interested, the normal body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius.
We were staying at this apartment building one of many surrounding a small "Πλατεία-Public square." The park (platia-Πλατεία) had a few swings and a sandbox for young children to play. The platia was surrounded by several benches for people to sit. On one far side was a "περιπτερο -kiosk," a type of miniature shop (kiosk), which sold multiple items, cigarettes, newspapers, soft drinks, ice cream and everything under the sun. On the exact opposite side of the "preriptero", was a small "εκκλησάκι-miniature chapel". Passersby would make their cross as they hurried to and from the platia or would on occasion stop, and light a candle for a special prayer.
I was not used to the hot nights of Athens. One night, I got out of bed, dressed in my shorts and decided to go and sit on one of the benches near the “eklisaki”. Most of the platia was well-lit except that a bulb near the eklisaki, had burned out. Sitting there, looking at the bright moon, I could hear an unusual sound, (Mr. Leousis mimics the sound to the class):
"Doop, shhh, dop shh..dop... "
In the distance, meters away, I could distinguish shadow of what seemed to be a person. He was carrying a cane, his one leg being dragged on the ground as he helped himself with the cane: As he got near, I could see it was an old man. He stopped by the eklisaki, rested his body on the cane. After somewhat stabilizing himself, he reached out with his trembling right hand, into his right pocket and pulled out some coins that he deposited in the collection box. He then picked up a small candle and lit it before the icons that lay there. He had not taken notice of me sitting on the bench, and thus I remained silent. He began to pray in a low voice:
( O, χρυσή και ιερή παρθένο Μαρία, σε παρακαλούμε προστάτεψε τον πολύτιμο γιο μου. Φέρ 'τον στο σπίτι ασφαλή και άφησέ τον να κλείσει τα μάτια μου με γαληνη. Μόνο για μια σύντομη στιγμή, αφήσε τα μάτια μου να δουν το όμορφο πρόσωπό του για μια ακόμη φορά και να χαϊδέψω το κεφάλι του με μια τελευταία αγκαλιά. Μου λείπει τόσο.)
( O golden and Holiest Virgin Mary, please protect my precious son. Bring him home safe and let him close my eyes in peace. If only for a brief second, let my eyes witness his beautiful face once more and stroke his head with one last hug. I miss him so.)
I could feel the old man's voice crack in pain as he ushered his every word. I became saddened for what I heard, tears running down my cheeks. A few minutes of stillness and the old man turned towards from where he came, and again slowly moved away perishing into the darkness, only his brushing sounds fading even slower.
"Doop, shhh, dop shh..dop... "
The following day at about near sunset, my father gave me some money to go to the "periptero" and buy some ice cream. As I sat on the bench next to the periptero enjoying my treat, two old ladies arrived who sat next to me. They continuously gossiped about this, that and the other, about almost all passers-by. They must have been living in the neighborhood for a long time because they seemed to have known everyone and had something to say about all. Across from where I sat, I noticed once again, the old man struggling, cane in hand, back to the eklisaki, to light a candle and pray. One of the old ladies spoke to the other:
"(Καημένε Χαράλαμπο, ο πόνος του είναι βαθύ. Ο ίδιος δεν έχει ακούσει από τον γιο του στη θάλασσα. Έχει κανένα να νοιάζεστε γι 'αυτόν. Ή μήπως δεν θέλει να έχει μια κόρη στην Βυτίνα, η άλλη γυναίκα ρωτά; Ω ναι, είναι σε ακόμα χειρότερη κατάσταση, επισκέπτεται μόνο ο γέρος να πάρει τα χρήματά του, όταν βρίσκεται σε ανάγκη. Η μόνη φροντίδα γι 'αυτόν, ήταν ο γιος του και επίσης δεν έχει ακούσει από. Είναι ολομόναχος. Θλίψη του θα τον σκοτώσει..)."
("Oh, poor Haralambo, his pain is deep. He has not heard from his son at sea. He has no-one to care for him." "Doesn't he have a daughter in Vitina", the other woman asks? "Oh yes, she is in even worse condition, she only visits the old man to take his money, when she is in need. The only one caring for him was his son, and he too has not been heard from. He is all alone. His sorrow will kill him.")
Upon hearing this discussion, I became even more saddened, and my appetite to finish my ice-cream disappeared. I remembered the old man's prayer and wish, the night before, and I hoped if there was a way to reach his son. That night sleep came quickly, and I drifted into the Elysium.
Beyond the valley of new creations, falling into the depths of old, a Phoenix rises before me and cries out:
"Είμαι ο πατέρας μου και δεν είναι παρά ένα. Θα αναζητήσει τους νέους να θάψει το παλιό, είναι καθήκον του. Η παλιά επιθυμούσε τη ζωή, την υγεία και την ευημερία για τους νέους του, αυτό θα επιτευχθεί μόνο όταν το παλιό εισέρχεται στο Elysium, θνητός κομιστής του "Light". Κάντε το έτσι."
(I am my father, and we are but one. Seek out the young to release the old, it is the way of the Phoenix: A coin for Kharon will be the price.)
Immediately before my feet, I could see a coin, which I proceed to pick up. The coin face depicting a Phoenix in transformation".
I could feel myself leaving my body, they call it an out of body experience, (Mr. Leousis, remarks.)
Soon after, I found myself hovering over a huge ocean, its powerful waves bashing against a small tanker of petrol oil. In the engine room, three men were furiously trying to restart the engine.
The ship was adrift, and without power, they were doomed to sink. One man pulls out an old pocket watch. The outer facing had an image of a Phoenix, exactly like the coin given to me in the Elysium by the Phoenix. The man opens the watch. On the inside plate of this old watch, I could see the miniature picture of the old man Haralambos; he must have been the old man Haralambos' son!
The young man, stares at the picture of the old man, makes a cross and whispers to himself:
"Αγαπητέ πατέρα, το θαύμα σου και να σώσει το πλοίο. Έχω καιρό να ακουμπήσω το κεφάλι μου στους ώμους σας και να είστε σίγουροι για μια ακόμη φορά. Για να έχετε κανένα φόβο, όπως εσείς με έχουν διδάξει. Μου λείπεις πατέρα. Θα παραμείνουν ισχυρά, όπως μου έχουν διδάξει μέχρι το τέλος."
(Dear Father, work your miracle and save this ship, not for me but for these innocent sailors. I long to rest my head on your shoulders and to be assured once more. To have no fear as you have taught me; I miss you father. I will stay strong as you have taught me till the very end.)
I sense this familiar warmness in me as I drift closer to this man. With my right hand, I touched him on his right shoulder and moved away. The man freezes for a few seconds. I could see his eyelids flicker, "The Light" had now been awakened within him. He moves away from the massive engine and climbs a metal staircase. Next, to some lockers, he bends down and opens a large metal container. In this box, one could now see three pipes running parallel to each other; one red valve in-between each pipe. He turns the middle valve, one hundred and eighty degrees. Then in excitement, he calls down to the other two men.
"Πατήσε κουμπί!" (Press button!).
The one-man, who is struggling to stay upright as the ship is bouncing about, reaches out for a blue push button. After several attempts, his hand reaches the blue button and cuffs it, pressing hard on it. As he struggles to stay close. A ringing sound, "Yie, yie, yie .." and the huge turbines begin to turn slowly, picking up speed with each revolution. The two men stare at each other, and a glowing smile enters their faces. In excitement, the one on the top, old man Haralambos' son, raises his arms and looks up at the ceiling calling out, "πατερούλη μας έσωσες, μας έσωσες! " (Father you have saved us!) He takes out his pocket watch, kisses his father's picture and like all proud Greeks, begins to dance, Opa!" (Mr. Leousis calls out as he proceeds to dance in front of the class.)
A week later, sitting at the platia, I witnessed father and son coming to the eklisaki to light a candle of thanks for the miracle at sea. Two days later, Hades the God of the underworld, waited for the promised oath, the old man had made the night I first met him. The cycle of life had now been completed. His son knew deep in his heart that his father had left in peace, knowing that his son had held his hand as he took his last breath of life. A life gifted to him by his father's prayers a week earlier when he was out at sea. The Phoenix had risen once again!
And that my students, is the story of the Phoenix; which states that, out of the ashes of the old, the new will rise. In other words, it is quite natural for people to grow old and eventually pass away. But, it is also essential for the young to remember, that if it were not for the ashes of the old, the new would not come into existence.
Country of safety - Canada
At that time, there was some serious research being done on high MBR (Metabolic rates), at a Nuclear Medical facility in Canada, so we were brought to Montreal at the Royal Victoria Hospital. You all know where that is? ( Mr. Leousis, asks.)
If I were to give you permission to see my medical file, it would be this high. (Mr. Leousis, expands his hands to show how tall this massive physical file would be.) The last I saw this file was fifteen years ago, and it had to be carted in, on those four-wheel carts: You know, like those carts they use at hospitals? (Some student's heads are seen to bob up and down in assurance.) Today, this file is probably in electronic form and takes little if any space.
At this experimental, hospital facility, once again, I was kept for months and treated so, so. I liked all the attention at first: All the ice cream I could eat, but after a while, I began to cry because I missed my friends, my school, and my wonderful world in Hellas.
One of the things that scientist soon discovered was that I could control my body temperature at will. Such a discovery was fascinating for them: I was not able to elevate my temperature any higher, than 45 degrees Celsius, but I could easily lower it to between 36-37. So they encouraged me to practice this control. By so doing, they were now confident; I could live in the "normal world."
At first, I didn't understand the importance of this "self-control." My parents repeatedly "encouraged me"... (Mr. Leousis, once again, smiles as he quotes the word "encouraged" as he then nods his hands as if being spanked.) ... to practice this self-control.
I remember once when I was bitten by a dog and had to go into the emergency for care, my parents went into a fit. Not because of the dog bite but because of the fear I would not be able to control my temperature and would be discovered. It was repeated multiple times to me, on the way there, not let the nurse or doctor know, "I-WAS-DIFFERENT!"(Mr. Leousis, emphasizes this point.) Under the threat of a whacking, I obeyed.
My childhood in Montreal was anything but "normal". For me to describe these events with you at this moment, would take an entire year of class substitutions. So let's get started, with the fourth episode of my stories, "The Secret Garden".
By Elias Leousis,
(Η αγάπη είναι το μελάνι, η σοφία είναι το μήνυμα.)
Love is the ink; wisdom is the message!
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