It’s not every day that you meet someone that has lived for a whole century. Especially someone who, despite their age, is characterised by their mental clarity. Greek Australian Argyro Oltoumis ticks both of those boxes.
Born in Kallithea, Lemnos on 22 November, 1919, Mrs Oltoumis had a simple and pleasant upbringing.
“Life in the village was very nice, we didn’t have any complaints. We would spend time in the farms and pick cotton; we played games, we would sing, we didn’t go without,” she recalls.
Mrs Oltoumis was in school when she first met the boy who would grow into the man that she would marry at age 22. Together they made the big decision to venture to Australia.
“We came because my husband had nieces and nephews here in 1960. At first it was meant to be just for a little while, as we all used to say then,” she says.
Mrs Oltoumis went through a lot in Australia, both good and bad. Like thousands of other Greek migrants, she worked in factories and went on to have two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Since 2015 she has been a resident at Fronditha Care in Templestowe, where she is visited daily by her daughter Artemis. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren also visit her frequently, and though her son lives in Greece, he communicates with her often.
The staff at Fronditha have come to know her as an approachable person, full of energy and very social. Mrs Oltoumis is always engaging in conversation with other residents, participating in activities and all in all, lives each day without complaints.
For her special day, the staff prepared a big celebration. She also received greetings from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Governor-General of Australia David Hurley, and of course the Queen.
“I didn’t expect to live to 100,” says Mrs Oltoumis. “But God has given me these years. I had a simple life but I didn’t lack anything. Today everyone is running; no-one was ‘chasing’ us.”
As for the secret to her longevity, she confesses: “We ate from the earth, pulses, made pites, and we were careful. We got fresh air, we went to the beach and we would swim. I didn’t want much, I had everything in the village. I wish you all health and may God bless you.”
Adapted into English by Anastasia Tsirtsakis.