He was born and raised in a mountain village. His stone house had neither running water nor electricity. At 17, against the wishes of his parents, he bid his family good-bye, and trudged for days over hundreds of miles to the big city where he would be the first in his family to attend college and attain his dream of becoming a teacher. His story was met with eye-rolls by his two young grandsons. Their struggles in childhood centered on not having the latest Nintendo game or the fastest computer CPU. Papou Yorgo graduated from teacher’s college, honorably served his country in the military, and then returned to the mountains to begin his career in a small school. He was soon the proud husband of Yiayia Tasia, and father of their two children, one of whom grew up to be Alex and George’s dad. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonOn the cusp of adolescence, Alex and George didn’t see their grandfather’s admirable life and career behind the face of the stern gray-haired old man. Now in his 80s, Papou was a relic of an “uninteresting” era. Visiting the grandparents every summer usually meant escaping their company for biking and soccer on the streets with peers. An unusual afternoon shower during one of those visits a few years ago brought the boys running inside. Sans video games, computers, or satellite TV, it wasn’t long before “I’m bored,” echoed through the house. Papou Yorgo responded with a gruff, “Come here,” and handed each of the boys a bevy of tools. “This door is broken,” he said, demonstrating how the scratched wooden portal was loose on its hinges and too warped for its frame. “We are now going to repair it.” Grumbling, George and Alex reluctantly worked alongside their grandfather, sawing, sanding, hammering, and staining. At first, their efforts were half-hearted, but, as the project progressed, their enthusiasm grew. George was amazed to discover that his Papou was as good at tinkering, adjusting, and fixing things as he was. And Warcraft aficionado Alex was soon a rapt listener to Papou’s tales of real battles won during World War II and the Greek Civil War. By the time the sun returned, the team had refurbished the door and laid plans for additional renovations – and conversations – together. The call that Papou was very ill came in mid-October. “I’m going to pray for Papou,” Alex admitted, “that God makes a miracle and saves him.” “God did give him a miracle,” I responded. “Twenty-five years ago, when he was cured of cancer. He got a chance to live to see his children get married, and to get to know his grandchildren and watch them grow up.” But I was grateful for yet another miracle. That my boys had had the chance to get to know Papou and learn their family’s heritage and history at his side. Papou Yorgo passed away peacefully at the end of October. His memory and his gifts live on in all our hearts. Linda Reid Chassiakos, M.D., is director of the Klotz Student Health Center at California State University, Northridge.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!