This interview with my dad will melt your heart

You should try this

I don’t want to regret not knowing enough about my parents before they leave the earth. In fact, I want to learn about who they were before they had me. By doing so, I think I can learn more about myself.

My father is 80 years old. He has turned many corners. Some were amazing, and others were horrific.

Although it is great to live longer and healthier, there is always an undying fear of what awaits around the corner.

The worst corner he ever turned was the one receiving news of his son’s death not long ago.

I thought of asking my father some important questions — questions I never asked him before.

He accepted.

I thought these questions would inspire you to ask your parents too.

Here is the interview that will melt your heart.

How lonely and hungry were you as a child?

Most of my childhood in my Greek village during and after the Second World War was lonely, cold and hungry. We were so poor. I remember when I was around 7 years old, I spotted a family having a picnic under a lovely tree. I was so hungry that I began to circle around them about 30 feet away. The mother of the family noticed me and called me over and gave me food.

The reason I felt lonely was because my mother died when I was too little to remember, and my father was either too busy working on the fields, fighting in the war or spending weeks in jail as a political prisoner.

Is it true that you were disassembling mines in the army?

Yes, in my second year of service, the army placed us on Mount Olympus for half a year to disassemble mines. If we made a mistake they would explode. We were very careful.

What was the toughest thing you did in the army?

Camping on Mount Olympus for a few months in the snow with a temperature of 10 below. We would wash ourselves with cold water each morning.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done and would you do it again?

When your mother and I eloped. And I would do it all over again.

Why did you choose my mom to be your wife?

Because I felt a love from her I never experienced before. Remember I had no real mother. I felt 100% she was the right one up to this day.

Did you have girlfriends before you met my mom? How were they different from her?

I did have girlfriends in Germany but your mom had the kindest personality. Her pure heart was what attracted me first, then her beauty. She made me feel what I was looking for. Back then, for both of us, love and family were more important than working and money.

Did you ever get into a physical argument with anyone?

Pretty close. When your mother and I moved to Germany to work in the factory, your mother’s supervisor flirted with and harassed with her. She told me about it. The next day I went up to him and threatened that if he continued I would physically harm him. He never continued and she kept her job.

What was it like to leave Greece and migrate to Canada with four children, a wife, no money and speaking very little English?

On my way to Canada I was excited. After migrating I realized it was more challenging than I thought. I had to feed a whole family and this meant working three jobs for many years until I bought a house.

What was your worst fear in Canada?

One of my three jobs back then was driving a taxi at night until 3am. Some evenings I was driving in some dangerous places downtown with unknown customers. At the time, I was nervous every night for my life because there were many taxi drivers who got hurt or even killed.

Tell me more about the time you were violently attacked by your customers and how you defended yourself.

I was attacked by my customers who did not want to pay me for my service as a taxi driver. I drove them to a motel outside of the city. It was dark and there was no one around the parking lot. When I asked them for the fee, which was high because it was an hour’s drive, they refused to pay me. I got out of the car and asked them again. One of them hit me. I fell to the ground. I found myself fighting this one guy while his friends were watching. It was brutal. I ended up on top of him with my hands around his neck. My hands were squeezing him and as I continued to squeeze further I thought of my young family and stopped. The police came and I went home really late that night. Your mother was crying. In the morning at the breakfast table you and your siblings saw my bruised face and black eyes. It was a quiet breakfast.

What was your worst regret as a father?

I wish I could work less and spend more time with my children.

What was your worst time before you were a parent?

The unknown of how to be a parent. Back then there were fewer books and no internet to learn. And since my parents and your mom’s dad were not around, we were on our own trying to raise a family away Greece in Germany, then in Canada.

How are you most different from your parents? How are you the same?

I think I am similar to my father in that he was the “strong-silent-type”. His lifestyle kept him emotionally distant from his children. I was and still am the same. You guys keep reminding me of this.

I was different from my father because, although I was emotionally distant, I was more hands on in raising you guys as babies. I changed your diapers, I babysat you, and fed you. In the 60’s that was unheard of for men. All of my male friends in the village thought it was revolutionary.

What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself?

My health. I made some bad eating choices when I was younger. Too many white pastas, white rice and white bread. Because of this I developed diabetes. Now I exercise and watch what I eat very carefully.

Can you tell me a story about me as a child?

I remember when you were 10 years old and we moved from one neighborhood to another which meant you had to change schools. You did not like your new school at all. I remember when I picked you up, you were sitting outside and you did not eat your lunch. I found out from the teachers that you did not attend class that day and on other days. You said the kids were very mean to you. I regret moving you to another school. I should have left you at the other one where you were happier with all your friends.

But I also remember telling you that you should never care what other people say about you and that you should be very proud of who you are. I don’t know if you understood but by the end of that year you were a popular girl.

What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with me?

To relax before making hasty expressions. If you calm down and think things over when something upsets you it might help you see that things are not as terrible as they appear to be.

The ancient Greeks said count to ten when you get angry. The anger will pass because emotions move and make room for reasoning.

Do you think money is as important as health?

In our time and place, money was not as important as today. Relationships, family and culture were dominant. Today I see that has changed and it would be wise to go back to the old ways because they make human beings happier. Money just makes us work more and more and we can easily lose touch of the simple things in life which are important for our health.

In your opinion what is an advantage of aging.

Knowing more about life and about myself. Having younger people asking me for advice.

In your opinion what is a disadvantage of aging?

Time moving faster. Before, time was taken for granted and it was a leisure to let the days go by without haste.

The deterioration of health. It takes more effort now to stay healthy. It is more work building new habits. Whereas before I was more carefree. I really miss eating cookies and cake. I cannot eat these now without worrying about my sugar level spiking.

How has the passing of your son changed you?

I am still dealing with it but I wish I could spend more time with him. The worst experience for a parent is to see their child die before them.

What plans should we make for the future?

Not repeating the same mistakes. Why do we make the same mistakes? Because no one explained to us that they are mistakes or we do not want to admit it. Mistakes are normal and they are lessons only if we learn from them. Only if we admit that they are mistakes.

When I try to explain this to my grandsons, I feel I have fulfilled my duty. Whether they take the advice or not is up to them. I understand them because I was their age once.

What was the funniest thing you ever did?

#1. When you were kids, your uncle and I dressed up in your mother’s clothes belly-dancing at birthdays, anniversaries, name days, and showers. Everyone loved the entertainment and laughed so hard. It became a request and we were inclined to do it after a few beers. We used toilet paper rolls for breasts and wrapped our heads with bath towels too.

#2 . At one wedding of 400 people, your mom and I were sitting with ten others around a table. After dinner and drinks, the band played music for us to dance and I climbed on top of the table dancing my heart away. One couple came up to me and said they wished I would live for a 1,000 years.


I hope you enjoyed this interview.

In the meantime I wanted to share a list of some other questions you can ask your aging parents:

  1. What were you like in high-school?
  2. What was your second choice for my name?
  3. What have you always wanted to tell me but did not have the courage to?
  4. What amazes you most about society today?
  5. What were you doing when you were my age?
  6. What advice would you give your 40 year old self?
  7. Tell me a story about my birth.
  8. What is something I still do not know about you?

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