The men of true love

Nun Porphyria (former taxi driver)

I’ll tell you the story of a kind and gentle mother. I wished all mothers had been like her.

Ten in the morning, in the region of Niceea. A woman dressed in black stopped me.

`May I sit in the front, my child?` `In the back I’m getting dizzy and my legs hurt.`

She said these so sweetly that I answered her in the same tone:

`Of course you can.`

She sat slowly.

`Thank you, my child.` `May God bless you!`

I noticed that her hands and feet were swollen because of exertion but her face looked like that of a saint.

`Where are we going?` I asked her.

`My child, can you take me to the Public Hospital from Athens?` `But go on this way!`

`But on that way we are going to Pireus.`

`It doesn’t matter if we take a longer way.`

`Do you want to avoid been seen by someone?`

`Yes, my child.`

I turned to the right.

`You know, my daughter, a bit further  is the shop of my son and I don’t want to be seen by him, because he told me to call him when I go to the doctor so that he could take me there.` `But I don’t want to bother him, to be a burden for him.` `I have good children and good daughters in law but they have their own families and I have to take this into account.`

She was speaking slowly and wisely. She must have been about 75-80 y.o.

`Tell me about your life, about your children.` `I enjoy listening to you.`

`What to tell you, my daughter?`

`Anything you like.`

Thus she started to tell me the story of her life. She told me about her native place, Dimitsana, about the nice but difficult years of her childhood which she spent in her beautiful village. She told me about river Lusio with its clear waters, about the fir trees from the mountains surrounding the place, about the flowers the natives planted in their gardens, about their monasteries and the school they had in secret, about the important people who were born there, as it was the case of patriarch Gregory the Vth, Ghermanos, the bishop of New Patras, about the professors, merchants and many others. Each family from their village gave birth at least to one hero who and these distinguished themselves in the battles for our homeland against the invaders.

She told me about her severe father.

`I’ll tell you something which will make you laugh but which made us cry then`. `One day we were all gathered with our parents who had come back from the field exhausted.` `We, the girls, were setting the table but my mother dropped the plate because she stumbled.` `My father got very angry because he had a nervous nature. He went to the basement took a sack, put our mother inside, took the sack on the shoulder and headed to the precipice.` `We, the children, could not utter a word.`

On his way he was seen by a neighbor:

`Where are you going, Lambros?` he asked him.

`I’m going to the precipice.`

`What for?“ Do you have trash in the sack?`

`No, I have my woman inside and I’m going to throw her in the precipice.`

`Why?` `What had she done to you?`

`She broke a plate with food.`

`Come on, Lambros, for this reason you’re going to throw your woman in the precipice?“ Forgive her.`

`To forgive her?`

`Yes, of course.`

So he came back and mother escaped.

This story seemed weird and I burst into laugh.

`Now I laugh too when I relate it, like when I tell it to my nephews.` `But then tears from my eyes and prayers from my heart had dried.`

`You had a good husband?`

`Oh, my child, I had the same fate like my mother.` `You see my hands?` `I have them like this from washing the laundry of others and from the work in the field.`

`What work did your husband do?`

`My husband was all day at the café.` `He was taking my money and went there. `But our most merciful God took him quickly near Him and thus I found my peace.`

`How many children you have?`

`I have four sons.` `May they be healthy.` `They are very good children.` `I have also very good daughters in law.` `My sons love them and they love them too.` `They have beautiful Christian families.` `Only one of my sons made me suffer much.`

`My kind lady, what did he do to make you suffer?`

`Oh, my daughter.` `He got married with a 19 yo girl after he finished his military service. “She was a very good girl.` `After his wife gave birth to a child he left on a ship, this was his job, he was a sailor.` `But one of his friends wrote him a letter and told him that his woman had found another man.` `My son after reading this letter came back without informing his wife and caught her with another man.` `They had a row and he took his suitcase and came to me.`

`Welcome, my son.` `Why have you come back so soon and why didn’t you bring your wife and child with you ?` `What you did is not right.` `Go back to your home.`

`Mother, I broke up with her.`

`You broke up?` `But why?`

He told me what had happened.

`My son, Christ sacrificed Himself for us for our sins which are so many and He forgave us.` `And you cannot forgive a small mistake of your wife?` `She is a young girl and fell into a mistake. `Shall we hang her for this?` `If you had done this wouldn’t you have liked to be forgiven by her?` `Come on, my son, go to your wife and your child and forget what happened.` `And learn to forgive for being forgiven.` `Come on, my son, go with the blessing of God and of Theotokos.`

`No, mother. `If I hadn’t seen her with my own eyes I would have forgiven her.` `But now I can’t.`

`My son, do whatever God enlightens you to do, I said.`

I got silent, I could not utter a single word. It took me quite a while to be able to speak again.

`And what happened in the end?` `They broke up?`

`Yes, my daughter.` `They broke up.“ But I helped her.` I am by her side and if she needs anything I help her.`

`And where is your son now?`

`He got married again, he has two daughters and with the first from the first marriage he has three.` He took another good girl.` All my daughters in law are like my own daughters, I love them dearly.` I’ve always taught my sons to love and respect their wives to be happy.` `Thanks God everything is going well.` `Are you married my daughter?`

`No.`

`That’s just as fine.` `As God wills`. `Love God, my daughter.`

`I adore Him, my kind lady!`

Thank you, my Lord that You brought this woman in my way! I said for myself.

We reached the hospital, she got down from the taxi but before she left I saw that she was walking with difficulty. Without hesitating I parked the taxi where I found place I ran after her, took her by the hand and helped her go to the doctor.

When she finished, I dropped her back home.

I can’t tell you the blessings she said from her heart. Hiw much love she had!

I often remember this rare, sweet, gentle woman whose heart was enlightened by the divine light and spread so generously around herself the divine love.

From the book Traveling beyond the walls of the city