Over the healing hills of Agios Sozomenos my grandpa Antonis would stand with binoculars for a chance to get a glimpse of his village Tymbou. Now part of the turkish occupied area, everything that once belonged to him and his family were lost…only left in blurry images to be viewed at a distance. The house my grandparents Antonis and Nikki had built, now belonged to someone else, the land still ripe with fruit now picked by foreign hands…but let us not dwell in the past. Let us start at the very beginning…the magic. Before Antonis was born, his father Demetrios owned very little, so little that his family had barely anything to eat. These were poor times, where people were forced to survive out of hard work and determination. Demetrios invested in farmland in his village Tymbou but the land proved barren and dry. Day and night he prayed for a miracle, yet nothing seemed to change. Despite it all Demetrios never gave up, his iron will always pushed him forward. One morning, while digging in the land, Demetrios stumbled upon something strange. It was a wooden frame, when he turned it over it was a silver-plated icon of Saint Marina. It looked very old, almost 100 years old or so. A strong believer in the mystical, he brought the icon back home as he took it as a good omen. That night, he had a vivid dream, a woman dressed in white spoke to him telling him to plant cotton in the land and that it would soon turn to gold, in return she wanted him to build a church in her honor. A few weeks went by…everything in a constant standstill, Demetrios prayed to Saint Marina and asked for help as he decided to plant cotton in the fields. In the coming months a miracle happened, the land prospered in cotton…leading to Demetrios receiving profit…business flowed so well that he soon hired employees of his own…leading to him buying more acres of land…leading to him practically owning most of the land in the village and becoming the richest man in Tymbou. He hired people with the kindness of his heart, offering them a stable pay and even food for their families. And in the land, the first piece of land he bought he built a church in the name of Saint Marina, a home for the icon he had found. This was a church later known as a miracle giver, people would pray to the Saint and give her offerings as she performed their miracles. My grandpa Antonis and his brothers inherited the land when his father Demetrios passed over, and kept it in prosperous conditions as they also had the charm of hard work, blessed with the gift of kindness. In 1974 everything was lost after the war but what surprises me the most is that my grandpa never ever lost his smile. It still shines bright to this day, his face is one of gratitude and grace. 

© Nicoletta