Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Best Christmas Ever

It’s just past nine pm, the sun is down and the blanket of  at night is creeping over Melbourne.  My kids (nearly 10 and a firm 7.5) and I trimmed the tree and put up some lights off my bedroom  balcony.  The lounge room is a mess with paper from wrapping presents, and pulling out xmas decorations, and my iPhone is pushing out  40’s, 50’s and 60’s xmas hits from Dean Martin to Michael Buble through to my speakers.  My little angels just scampered down in their robes to look at the house from the street and get the full imagining of the lights as Santa might see them.

They are down now, and as they drift off to sleep each in their beds, safe and sound, silent night just kicked in sung by other parents angels arranged in a beautiful choir. You my one, maybe two readers might be thinking what makes this the best xmas ever.  You see, a couple of years ago I left my wife of 10 years.  I left what I could only describe as a loveless marriage and a situation I just couldn’t resolve and maintain any sense of my own identity and humanity.  The details of the break up really don’t matter, but what does is my utter loss with regards to my kids.  You see, I didn’t expect to love being a dad to my two babies as much as I did.  When they were born, I became  a combination of Steve Martin in the Parenthood, Chevy chase in the Grizwalds, and Dr Huxtable (Bill Cosby).  

I think I knew it would hurt so much I just didn’t think about it, I was too afraid I would go back and that would be it, I would be a living dead man for the rest of my life.

The darkness that engulfed my life was indescribable as far as being a dad was concerned.  There were things that I did that gave my kids joy and filled me to the brim.  One was I loved whistling a little tune when I came through the door, to trigger the stampede down the hall way, and the rapture of hugs and kisses after work.  I loved kissing each of them gently on their forehead at night on my way to bed, that immediately disappeared. 

Once I got into my tiny apartment, all I could do was kiss the little one on the bottom bunk, and strain to get the big one on top.  It sounds trivial but for me it was another wound in a long line of wounds that had cut deep into my soul.

At the beginning of the journey, my life quickly psychological became a black hole as I attempted to restart my life in every aspect.  You see when people use the term, ‘lose your way’, its as literal a term as you can use to describe what I experienced.  Everything collapsed for me, and all I could maintain was a veneer of the ‘me’ the world saw, just for the sake of my kids, my parents and my close freinds. The truth was that all was lost in my mind, and I descended into an abyss of consciousness.  Booze and socialising took some of the edge off, but I began dreading the night, sleep and waking to an empty house in terror, where I would teeter into what I can only assume as being both madness and enlightenment at the same time, so sides of the same coin.

Slowly, ever so slowly the pebbles I was putting in place started to come together, In terms of being a single dad, rebuilding my work situation and physiologically coming to grips with what I did to contribute to the demise of my marriage, including learning from it and forgiving myself.

But tonight I speed towards the first xmas with my kids each in their own bed, a new home, a beautiful new girlfriend (we dated over 13 years ago, another amazing story and woman!), new car, and my work is looking not too bad!

Why the best xmas ever?  Well its been over two years, and I can breath now.  

The photo was taken by my daughter while I made pancakes the next morning!



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Its been a while since I posted here, but i had to share.  Xenia is about to turn 7, it was like yesterday i started writing about being her dad.  I am still in love with her as I am with my beautiful boy Vance.  When Xeni was about 2.5 she asked me what her 'working' was, after all I did 'working'.  I told her she had a great job, her job as to do two things, 1. have fun, and 2. ask questions.  That's what kids do, so they understand how things work so that they can have more fun.

Its been a precession of questions ever since that day and I have had a full time job just responding.  A few nights ago, while I was reading in the lounge, and after she had gone to bed, little miss got up and tramped down the hall, exclaiming she had a new question!  "ok, shoot I say"...  "she smiles,.. "ok,...  I have been wondering,.. how come....umm.. we only get one life?"  well bugger me... what a beauty.  I was quite chuffed.  I fumbled through an answer, talked about reincarnation, others belief systems, and the fact that we would value life less if we had 20 of them etc... she was happy with all that, but not 100%.
Three days passed, and she exclaims that she had "learned something in her brain, and that she had figured out the answer to her own question" ,...  "Wow" I say, "ok, tell me". " well, I figured out that we have a new life every day, so we get plenty of lives! That's it!"

How bloody awesome is that?  My beautiful Girl!  I was driving at the time, and she keeps mentioning that I was so happy with that answer that I let go of the steering wheel!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, ladies and gentlemen, here he is. Master Vance Arion Christo, at two years old. A strikingly handsome young man with charm, charisma and effervescent cheek,.. infectious you might say. He'll be breaking some hearts in the future no doubt!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Forgotten ANZACS in Greece.

I just returned from the ANZAC day dawn service at the Hampton RSL. This year I took with me, for the first time, my four year old daughter. I dressed casual, opting to leave my own lone medal in its case.

As usual this was a sombre, relatively well organised event, and the padre’s speech was genuine, well delivered and a reminder of the sacrifices our boys made. The guard of honour reminded me of my time in PNG doing the same job in Rabaul in 1987.

As an ex member of the Australian Army, for me these ANZAC days are very moving. Aside from my memories of service, I had the privilege of visiting war cemeteries with rows and rows of young men buried there from long ago, and in many cases the head stone didn’t even read whether it was an Australian Soldier buried there or someone else. I saw these in PNG and Thailand, and of course they are sprawled across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

These young men and in some cases boys still haunt me as my lost brothers from long ago.

On my return home recounted the experience to my still sleepy wife. I told her of the event and how well our daughter had behaved. I was left with the impression that my wife, a first generation Greek Australian like myself, believed that the ANZAC day celebration had little to do with us as Greeks.

The reality is that, Greeks owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Australian and New Zealand Soldier and therefore Australia and New Zealand as countries. In 1941, 17,125 Australian and New Zealand soldiers were sent to Greece to defend it from German aggression as they moved south. Some of them spent three years fighting there, and of course many lost their lives or were POW’s as a result. They became known as "The forgotten ANZACS" as it became a guerrilla war, something quite new back then, very familiar to our boys and girls in uniform now.

As I was growing up, I had an ongoing argument with my Dad about the quality and merit of the Greek Soldier versus the Australian soldier. He had served as a Greek conscript in the late 50’s and early 60’s and I was, at the time, a Air Force Cadet Sergeant and reserve soldier with 5/6 RVR and then 2 Commando. I would later join the regular Army and was based in Townsville.

It was many years later, when I visited Greece in my late 20’s and drove into a small town with my uncle to pick up supplies that the reality of this time was driven home to me. As we walked up to the shop, my uncle introduced me as his Australian nephew who had served in the Australian Army to a couple of old Greeks who were sipping their mud coffee, engulfed in a haze of smoke from their pipes, worry beads jangling.

One gazed at me silently for what seemed a little too long and asked “ Do you know who the best soldiers in the world are my boy?”. I was immediately filled with the same sense of passion I felt when I had endured this argument with my father so many times before, but composed myself. “No, who?” I answered “who are the best soldiers in the world?”

He said; “The Australians and the New Zealanders; and I will tell you why. Not because they are smarter, better or faster, but because those boys fought as passionately along side us, ate the same dirt, and died along side us with great courage, and it wasn’t even their country….. Greece will always owe a debt to Australia and New Zealand, which it can never repay”.

Greek Australians, like many others forget what ANZAC day is about, and dash off for the long weekend. In fact many Greek Australians do not believe it has anything to do with us. This is so not the case. Our parents were kids, and probably are ignorant of this reality, and many of us in our late 30's and 40's have since lost our grandparents or never really knew then given they were back in Greece.

I know not one Greek soldier who left his country, home and family to fight for Australia and is now buried here or near by in PNG, Malaysia or Thailand amongst others.

For the record, here are the facts for Australia (as far as I know):Australian losses were 594 dead, 1,001 wounded and 5,132 Prisoners of War. The facts are here.

I wonder if 1st and 2nd generation Greek Aussies knew of this sacrifice and how grateful their own grandfathers were for the ANZAC’s, would feel the same?

My kids will know, and I hope in time, more Australian Greeks wake up to this fact. Our Paouthes and Giagiathes would certainly approve.

Kali Anastasi.

Peter Christo/Panagiotis Christofilopoulos

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My beautiful girl is so excited about Santa coming. She has been watching the movie Polar Express, and this is the result. How could this not touch your heart! My baby girl!!

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Babies,
I wake ever morning to this physical life. Every day I am amazed that it exists at all. The more I pause to consider it, the more in awe I am, that what looks real is in fact merely energy coming in and out of form. I go into each day in deep appreciation of this short life, love for you, my treasured children, honouring the opportunity to be your father, guide and teacher in this life. I sit humbly before the divine intelligent universe, a greater part of me, something I cannot quantify in words, at peace in the now, connected in eternity with you.

I am with you always!
Your grateful father Peter Christo

Sunday, September 30, 2007

We recently visited the Gold Coast. Xenia met Elvis.