Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • No offence to other readers but parents will probably understand this story better . I had to become a parent myself to understand its gravity. And to appreciate my parents' strength and courage.

    I was born in Crete, Greece. I had a big sister. I had two wonderful parents. My parents had two wonderful children. However we all spent most of our time in and out of hospitals. To me, as a child, that was the way life was. It was normal. I never thougth other people lived differently. I never thought of myself or my sister as ill. But we were.
    My sister was born with an incurable genetic disease. They didn't know she had it until I was born and my mum wore black all while they were waiting for the test results that would show if I had the same disorder. Turned out I didn't have it after all. I had a heart problem instead.
    So my parents had had two children, both born ill. How much strength does it require to deal with the fact that one of your children will have to have regular blood transfusions all her life, that she may not reach the age of 50, and the other a heart surgery as soon as possible? How do you cope? How did they deal with it? I didn't know.

    But then one day, on the ship to Crete I happened to be sharing a cabin with this really fat old lady- the kind with the innumeral plastic bags who snacks in the middle of the night and keeps you awake. I didn't want to be in the cabin with her but the ship was packed. She wanted a chat. I wanted to go to bed. A no win situation.
    We got to talking and she asked me my name. "Maria Malathraki", I said. She seemed shocked. "Do you know Nikos Malathrakis? Is he a relation of yours?". "He was my father. He has just passed away", I said. I had hardly finished my sentence when this big 70 year old woman got on her knees and started to kiss my hands. "Your father saved my daughter's life. He and your mother together. You don't know me but my daugther has the same illness as your sister. When your sister was born there was nothing for those children at the hospital in Heraklion. No special doctors, no blood transfusion unit, nothing. Our children were doomed. He made it happen. He and your mother organised the unit, created the patients' association. They saved our children. Tell them, tell them, you hear. My daughter is married, she has children of her own. Tell them, it's all thanks to them" she said pressing my hands really hard.

    My father had already died and I was too embarrassed to speak of it to my mum. What could I tell her: "Hey mum, there's a lady out there who says she eternally in your debt?". It was also too soon. Now that I've got children of my own I can properly appreciate the story. My parents had two beautiful children who happened to be born ill. They faced the situation as best they could, they acted, they searched, they never gave up, they did their best to give us a good life. They got a loan and travelled to England so I could have my heart surgery. They made sure that my sister could have a treatment. In my opinion they succeeded. Hey, I get weak legs when I take my daughter to the doctor's to have her shots or when she's got a cold. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done anything like that. And I'm eternally grateful to them for what they did.

    I remember when my dad was dying he started to cry. "Why are you crying", my sister asked him. "I don't want to die, I'm scared of dying", he said. "I deal with that fear every day, dad", my sister said. And dad smiled. He felt guilty.
    Well, she does have to face that possibily every day. But she's here. And he did that much for her.

    "The past is really important in your understaning of who you are and where you're going", my yoga teacher used to say. "Learn from it". I'm still trying to understand who I am. But I know I'm the daughter and the sister of some really strong people. Where I'm going remains a mystery. But I'm grateful for the journy so far, for my life and what it's given me.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.