My mum passed away on the 25th August. She had been diagnosed with liver cancer in early July. We had 5 weeks with her before she died and we are really feeling her loss right now. Being Greek Orthodox, her funeral was a traditional one but the priest is Australian born and he performed the ceremony, along with my uncle (also a priest) in both Greek and English. This helped to include everyone in the service and made it all the more meaningful for those of us who don't speak fluent ancient Greek.
I wrote a tribute for the priest to read during the service.
Vicky was born on the 12th of April, 1942 in the mountain village of Karaiskaki, Western Greece. Her parents, Andreas and Ionna Skapetis lived in a two room stone house with their six children, Frosini, Haralambos, Vasiliki, Gerasimoula, Phillipas and Maiyoula.
Their life in the village was a poor yet happy one. Theirs was a very close family that worked hard on the land. They had very little and yet managed to look after each other. The children went to school and worked alongside their parents to make their simple living.
Opportunities in village life were few. With the desire for better lives and with the encouragement of their parents, the older children, in their late teens and early twenties were given the option to come to Australia. Frosini and Vicky came to Australia in 1961 to live with their Uncle Yianni and Aunt Nicky who had settled here a few years earlier. The girls were followed a few years later by Haralambos, Gerasimoula and Maiyoula. The family settled into life in a foreign country and with very little English they secured jobs at Manola Shoe Factory where they worked until 1967.
Emmanuel Zouglakis came to Australia in June 1964. He had met Vicky a few years earlier in the village where he had worked as a health surveyor. He left Greece for a better life in Australia and on the 5th of September, 1964, he and Vicky were married. Their first child, Mary, was born in October 1965.
In 1968 Vicky and Emmanuel together with Frosini and her husband Fotis opened their first small business, a milk bar in Richmond. Gina was born in July 1970 and George was born in December 1972. The 2 families worked in the shop and lived in the house behind the shop with their children. Together with their cousins Chris and Louis, the children Mary, Gina and George grew up happily as the business thrived. This partnership continued for 10 years.
Their next business venture lasted 20 years. Vicky and Emmanuel’s small supermarket in Wattle Park thrived in those years. Vicky made so many friends there. She worked hard but always had time to listen to her customers’ stories. Vicky balanced full time work and motherhood extremely well. The business was closed in 1997 and Emmanuel and Vicky retired.
Along with Emmanuel, Vicky worked tirelessly over 14 years with Melbourne’s Cretan community. She organised and catered numerous small and large social events. The Brotherhood of Lasithion was grateful for her work with them. Over the years Vicky provided beautiful meals for hundreds of people and was a beloved friend to all in this community.
Vicky and Emmanuel were inseparable as life partners, as parents and as business operators. Everything they built for themselves and their families they built together. Side by side they managed the rigours of work and family life. They watched proudly as their children succeeded through school, university and into the workforce. Vicky loved all of their partners John, Kathy and Gavan as her own and was beyond thrilled when each of her 6 grandchildren were born. Saski, Alexi, Katia, James, Jasmine and Aris were all adored by their Yia Yai.
Vicky loved her garden, growing fruit, vegetables and flowers successfully for many years. Vicky also loved to cook. Her greatest joy came from seeing her family sit down to enjoy a meal together.
Family gatherings were happy occasions with Vicky enjoying the love and company of her children and grandchildren. She was surrounded by people who loved her for her generosity, humour and warm spirit. Her strength made her family strong. Her intelligence and courage forged a future for her family that is something for which they will be eternally grateful.
Remember Vicky now for all the special gifts she brought to your lives. She cared deeply for others in their time of need and rose to every challenge with great energy and determination. Her memory lives on in each of you and with your remembrance her spirit will continue to touch your lives. Think fondly of the times you have spent with Vicky and hold on to your memories.
May she live forever in our hearts.
love you mum x