Iphigenie Moraitini

When I think of the term “work ethic”, I think of my grandfather

Photo: Harrys (Haralambos) Sourmelis

Iphigenie Moraitini Patriarchea

My granddad was born in 1913 and died in 1994, before the internet became what it is. And yet when I think of his life… Well, you be the judge:

At the age of approximately 23, my grandfather, as a diaspora greek, had to flee the country he was born in, leaving behind whatever fortune the family had, to make a new life as a Greek in Turkey. He was a talented leathersmith, and before long he had made his own fortune, which he lost in 1964, when he was politely but firmly asked to relocate to Greece, along with his wife, daughter, and the majority of the Greek community of Istanbul.

So, at the age of 55, my grandfather started his career anew as a mud-carrier in construction. A couple of years later he opened a coffee shop, then two more years further he opened a shop selling leather garments.
By the time I was born, my 72-year-old grandfather owned 7 shops selling the leather garments he made in Athens.

This would be when he officially retired to be a full-time grandfather to, well, me. And what an impressive grandfather that man turned out to be! I could regale you with a thousand stories, but yeah. Let’s leave it at that.

My grandfather was born in a time before work-life balance, and indeed life dealt him a lot of lemons. He had to recover from impossible odds, and his unfailing work ethic was one of the greatest tools in his hands. Stubbornness was the other.

So when I tell you that even this highly driven man let everything go to raise his grandchild… Please understand. The secret to my grandad’s success, his very survival, wasn’t hard work. It was pure motive, and a compass that always pointed him home.

Family trumps work. That is all.

Leave a Reply