submitted by Peter Peter Poulos on 15.09.2005
From: Athena (Tzortzo)Poulos
To: Olympia Tzortzopoulos
Announcing the death of her husband from injuries sustained in a car accident.
Goulburn, 27th March, 1936
Dearest Mother, Greetings, I kiss you for Panayiotis and the children, and I wish my dearest mother, my letter finds you all in good health.
I believe my loving mother that you have heard of the tragic death of your Dimitries - my husband. It is very sad mother, one for you, and one hundred for me. You lost your son, whom you have not seen for years, and I myself, lost the partner of my life, and carer of the children. His death removed the heart from my body, and my life and health. What will happen? It was my luck to cry.
I want to tell you mother of my sadness and shock. I have had a nervous breakdown. Now I have experienced severe suffering with severe pains for five (5) weeks. I cannot sleep from the pain. Half of my chin is numb, and my teeth are throbbing from the pain, and I cannot cope.
Here, where I live, no doctor can help. The previous Sunday, 22nd March, I went to Sydney to do the mimosimo (40 days) for the deceased. I stayed an extra day, and went to see a big neurologist. He said it was my nerves, and he gave me strong medicine for my nerves. He told me to take it for 2-3 months. Mother, up to now, I have taken it up to 10 times, and it made very little difference. In the end he advised me to calm down and not worry. But I cannot easily forget, because his grave, his clothing, I see wherever I go; drawer or wardrobes. God help me to get well. Because I have four young children. What will happen? I am very unlucky.
The things are very complicated and mixed up with the shop. The only thing that was left was £3½ (three and a half lires), which I found after he died. Now I live temporarily with Panayiotis, and my older brother. The shop belongs to someone else. Jobs, (work) are not easy to find. I will try and get something from the Government for the children, as I am a widow. I do not worry that I am left on the street, but I worry over the loss of my husband. I feel I got killed for nothing, but I do not blame God.
I will tell you how this happened. Hear, my mother, that before he went to country towns to find a shop. In the end, in two or three days, he came back, and he said, I went to see the shop, but I did not like it. It is better that we stay here. It is a better climate for the children here. In the end that is what happened.
The following Sunday was 8 days after he went to play cards, and came back at 1 am. I was asleep, but woke up, and he said, "Tommorrow morning I will go back to the country towns to look for a shop, because as you know, there are no jobs at all." I said, "You are leaving so quickly. You should have warned me, and told me so I could prepare your clothing - in the end was it good?" In the end he got up at 7 am, and he said, 'get up' to open the shop, because the train is leaving. By the time I got dressed and went down he came back up, took his coat, and said from a distance - adieu (goodbye) my wife, I am in a hurry. That was all.
I waited Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday night at 7:00pm, I was in the bath, and I was bathing the children to prepare them for bed. There was a knock on the door, and I saw Panayiotis, and he said, "Get ready to go to that town, Dimitries is in Hospital, unconscious." He said he had phoned for me to go next morning to the hospital. My worry and crying I cannot desribe. In the end, we took a car, George Comino, Tasso, and two more, and we left at 7:00pm at night, and we reached at four (4) am.
In the end when we went to see him in the Hospital he was unconscious. I cried out; I pulled at him. The nurse said he knew who I was, and tried to talk, but in 5 minutes his life left. In the end she took me to another room, and gave me cognac (brandy). A head nurse (matron?) came, and I asked "What do the doctor's say? Will he recover or be unconscious? When will he get better?" She said, "No, no." I said, "He wont live. He will die?" She said, "He has already died. What do you want? What are you looking for?"
It was a knife stab to my heart. I said, "Let me see him again. I want a second time." But whatever I said, no matter how much I moved him it was too late. He had died. I held him by the arm. He was soaking wet with perspiration. His pyjamas were stuck to his body.
After that, you understand, in the end, my mother, my grieving is heavy. You gave birth to him, you brought him up, and I had him as a husband 10 years. He left me with four children. My duty is to live, and look after them. I will die a widow. I swear to live for my children.
My disappointment is great, because nobody came to tell me my fortune by coffee, cards, or anything else, to tell me that I would lose my husband so young. I look at (his) clothes and I ask, is it true that I am a widow at 30 years of age. Am I dreaming? But it is true. It is not a dream.
That is what I have to write to you. I urge you to be patient. You and me. It was written, that's how he would go.
You have many kisses from the children, Panayiotis,
I kiss you with love
Within one year of writing this letter, Athena died from cancer.
Athena was a Kanellakopoulos, from Accrata. The family anglaicised their name to Connell.
She married: Dimitri George Poulos, (Tzortzopoulos), Karavas, Greece, and Goulburn, New South Wales, on 16th June 1926.
Wedding photo of Dimitri (Tzortzo)Poulos and Athena Connell
Athena Connell, from her wedding photo
Dimitri (Tzortzo)Poulos's headstone
Dimitri (Tzortzo)Poulos's gravesite
Oral history told by Con Dimitri (Tzortzo)Poulos, about brothers and sister, George, Harry, and Ollie
Photograph of Dimitri's father, George, and mother, Olympia - the woman to whom this letter is addressed - and their life history
The official program from the Symposium
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