Perusing the news as I often do, I came across an article that captivated me.
It isn’t the latest headline… the article isn’t even new.
But thank goodness for archives, or I would have missed that New York Times article.
An article about an island… an island where people forget to die.
It was the story of Stamatis Moraitis, a 1943 Greek war veteran who came to the United States for help with a war-induced gunshot injury that had mangled his arm.
Finding an enclave in New York where his fellow countrymen resided, Moraitis settled amongst his own, finding work… and building a new life.
Years later, he began to experience health issues. He found himself short of breath and easily fatigued.
Physicians diagnosed lung cancer, with 9 months to live. And suggested aggressive cancer treatment.
After careful consideration, Moraitis chose a different path.
A risky path.
He chose to return to the island of his birth… his home… to die.
He wanted to be buried with his ancestors in a cemetery shaded by oak trees that overlooked the Aegean Sea on the Greek island of Ikaria.
“He figured a funeral in the United States would cost thousands, a traditional Ikarian one only $200, leaving more of his retirement savings for his wife, Elpiniki. Moraitis and Elpiniki moved in with his elderly parents, into a tiny, whitewashed house on two acres of stepped vineyards near Evdilos, on the north side of Ikaria.”
The story continues that in those early days, Moraitis spent most of his days in bed… waiting to die.
And… reconnecting with his faith. “On Sunday mornings, he hobbled up the hill to a tiny Greek Orthodox chapel where his grandfather once served as a priest.”
As will happen in small towns and villages, people began to learn that he’d returned home. And they didn’t stay away. His childhood friends came to visit… every day, each afternoon. Spending hours together.
Soon, Moraitis found himself spending less time in bed, and more time socializing. He believed he might as well die happy.
As the months home began to accumulate, he found himself growing stronger. He even planted some vegetables in his parents garden, knowing he would be dead when harvest time came.
Six months came and went. And he hadn’t died.
But he’d grown stronger, more interested in those around him, contributing to both family and his community.
The NYT says, “The years passed. His health continued to improve. He added a couple of rooms to his parents’ home so his children could visit. He built up the vineyard until it produced 400 gallons of wine a year. Today, three and a half decades later, he’s 97 years old — and cancer-free. He never went through chemotherapy, took drugs or sought therapy of any sort. All he did was move home to Ikaria.”
Home. It’s a powerful word… and a powerful place.
Amazing miracles happen when we begin to move our eyes off ourselves and become invested in the people around us.
Ikaria is an island much studied for its abundant resources and long-living residents.
We recently published one of my favorite longevity recipes that originated from Ikaria.
It’s simple, peasant food, yet incredibly delicious.
In the article, we summarized 7 “recipes” that contribute to the Ikarian’s amazing longevity. It’s a post you won’t want to miss!
As I pondered this man’s miraculous story, an ancient scripture from the Psalms came to mind…
I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
Remember these words when circumstances seem dim. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Stay healthy, stay connected.
May the sun shine ever so brightly.
Hug your loved ones’ extra tight.