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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 18

Tales from Crete | 18

As I have mentioned on several occasions, according to the Greeks themselves, there are only 2 kinds of people. Those who are Greek and those who wish they were - and then it is that I get a little confused. Every single week I meet people in our store Elenas or elsewhere, both Danes and Greeks, who assume I am Greek. I've gradually gotten used to that, but when people no longer just think I'm Greek, but more specifically ask me where in Greece I'm from, it's just before I start to doubt myself. Sometimes, like here the other day, it's also a bit awkward when a Dane comes into the shop a bit out in the country in Jutland, and without further ado starts speaking Greek to me, and then I have to explain myself and almost hang up I swear I'm very Danish.

When I've tried it, I just regularly get the new question "Well, your wife is Greek, isn't she?" - and no, I must confess there too and say that she, like me, is very Danish.

Now there may be some of my loyal readers here on the blog who are thinking…. What does it have to do with tales from Crete?. Not really that much and yet, so a whole lot or maybe all of it. But to understand it properly, it requires me to reveal something of myself, something very private, and something that I have otherwise kept to myself. So if I haven't lost you by now, here it comes.

I have always believed that there is much more between heaven and earth than what we humans can understand. I am also of the opinion that it is probably best that way, that is, that we do not understand it all, and probably never will. When my mother died aged 82 in 2005, she had saved a few old but still usable 1000 kroner notes, and before her death had told me that I should go on a holiday which, at that time, I had not had for 15 year. By chance, my wife, myself and our 3 youngest children ended up in Crete, where I immediately felt at home. I felt like I had come home. Since then we have been there countless times and in 2011 I lived there for half a year. And as most of you probably know, I started the business Elenas, selling Greek products here in Denmark. That the business was named Elena's was because my wife's name is Elena.

Last night I got the idea that I would try to make a family tree, because who knows....maybe after all there is a part of the family tree that is rooted in the Greek. I found an old letter folder where I knew there were some old baptismal certificates of my parents. But the first piece of paper got hold of was something else entirely. It was a handwritten description of a painting that hung in my childhood home. A painting I didn't like myself, but which was intended for me, already from when I was very small. The painting is called "the freed" and depicts Prometheus, who in Greek mythology was the Titan who created the first man and stole fire from the Gods to give it to man, which is why Zeus had him chained to a rock so that an eagle could grab a piece of his liver every day. However, Prometheus was freed by Heracles, who was the son of Zeus, by Heracles shooting an arrow through Prometheus' chains and freeing him. Heracles, the most popular of the Greek heroes, is often depicted with a lyre (a stringed instrument) in hand and, according to mythology, was very musically inclined (a bit like me). Who Zeus was actually married to is somewhat uncertain, because Greek mythology refers to Zeus as a charmer with several wives and numerous children. But in most stories he was married to Hera, Queen of the Gods, who was also a symbol of the Woman and Mother God. But the great charmer Zeus could not quite keep his skin, so at one point he visited Queen Alcmene, having taken the form of Alcmene's husband and made her pregnant with Herakles. However, Hera delayed that pregnancy in jealousy and when Heracles was finally born she sent 2 snakes to kill the infant Heracles. But Heracles strangled both snakes and thereby built his reputation - "doing the impossible".  Perhaps I should just add here that Herakles is the Greek name for Hercules, and over time the name Hercules has been used precisely in connection with machines, airplanes and other things that must draw attention to the fact that they can do the impossible. And now that we're on the subject of Hercules or Herakles and the meaning of the name, I come to think of a teaching I received as a child, which dates back to my grandfather, who consciously cultivated and practiced something that was impossible for most. It goes something like this: "Instead of writing something off as impossible, see the possibility in it".

I also just found an old photo of my grandfather, with my grandmother by his side, who in my eyes, with her big moustache, could actually pretend to have Greek ancestry. So perhaps it is quite true that the apple rarely falls far from the tree.

  • That I met my wife through an ad I had placed in the newspaper, and I had no doubt at all that she was the one I was going to marry,
  • that she actually has the Greek name Elena, although she calls herself something else,
  • that there was a painting from Greek mythology in my childhood home intended for me since I was a child,
  • that at her death my mother had put a little aside so that my wife Elena, our children and myself could go on a short holiday
  • that by chance it went to Crete and I immediately felt at home there already when we landed
  • that I gradually started to take an interest in Greek mythology
  • that I opened a shop with exclusively Greek goods just because I thought it was nice
  • that I behave more at home in Crete than here in Skive, where I live
  • that a few years ago we bought a Greek street dog whose name was "Hera" (Mother God) but we changed it to "Raki"
  • that the small hotel in Crete we came across by chance, and which we use for accommodation on the group trips I am a tour guide on, is called "Elsa" (the same name as my mother had)
  • that the day before my son was to be christened, my mother suggested that we should change the name we had first chosen to Victor (the same as my grandfather's name) and we did it (to the great amusement of everyone and extra work for the priest, because then we had to correct name in church register and on all gifts)
  • that today Victor runs our family business with the same great passion for Greek that I have myself, and he, without knowing the teachings of my childhood, lives to see the possibilities in the impossible - the way my grandfather (the old Victor) lived after
  • that I am constantly accused of being Greek, both here and when I am in Crete

…and I can go on like this

Is it all just coincidence, or is there more between heaven and earth that we just don't understand. I think the latter, and, like most Greeks, am also of the opinion that there is a meaning in everything, even with what does not make sense.

But what do you think?

Feel free to write a comment if you have similar experiences that you want to share with others and also write if you would also think I was Greek if you met me by chance on the street in Greece?

Great weekend!

Tales from Crete

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Comments

Lone Møller - January 28, 2019

wau.. ja der er “en anden verden” hvor vi kan opleve mere mellem himmel og jord. Tænk at opleve så mange tegn. Som du skriver må der være en mening i alt, selv det der ikke giver mening. At det ikke giver mening, betyder vist bare at der stadig er meget vi ikke ved, men vi har fat i noget, som er vejen, til vi begynder at forstå en storhed.

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