This morning— 7am local time in Hania, Crete, I woke up to church bells. But these weren’t just any church bells. They were the bells from the Evangelistra Church in Hania— the church my parents were married in 1962— more than a half century ago.
I was jet-lagged and only had slept for a few hours after more than 30 hours of flying, three missed connections and four lost bags. But the bells were music to my ears.
Rewind to September of this year.
Amid the chaos of an around-the-world trip and television show I was working on as a producer and publicist, I received a call from my sister-in-law regarding some pretty ugly news about my mom’s health.
My first instinct was to turn to Steven who was not only traveling the world with me on this project (He was the head of production and director of photography)… but also the person I have been turning to for many of my difficult times this year– and trust me, there have been many. (lucky guy!)
His immediate words of advice— “Go home.” He meant it literally, and figuratively. He meant that it was time to take care of my mom.
At the time, I was in Istanbul, Turkey and I flew home to Pittsburgh to learn first hand what was going on. While the details are something I prefer not to share just yet, we began to immediately deal with the realities of her condition as a family.
It would be yet another life changing experience for me in 2014 to hear that “your mom will not be the same person she is now in just a few months.”
The sudden shock of this news was devastating— and yes, like most people, I cried for a long time. A very long time.
After the shock settled, I turned what would normally be a devastating situation, emotionally, into something positive. I stopped being selfish and tending to my own needs and began the long journey home— back to my own roots, for my mom.
One of the first things we did was plan a Christmas trip to her native Hania, on the island of Crete. Although she left in 1962 a 17-year old newlywed to her 34 year-old husband (my father!) she hadn’t been back for Christmas to experience the holidays with her sisters who still lived there for many years.
This trip “home” to Hania is as much for her, as it is for me— a trip back to my roots. And although a week away, the best Christmas present I have ever received was seeing the joy on the faces of my mom and two of her sisters, when we finally arrived last night after our long trip. I only wish her other sister, Katina who lives in Sydney, could have been here too. (PS– my mom has brothers too, but this post is for the girls, who share that special sisters bond!)
There are so many of us, of you, who have family issues— conflicts over inconsequential matters, personal stress, relationships that keep us away from “home”. My advice— from my own experience— go home. You won’t regret the beauty of the moment.