Eleni (Helen) Confos blew out candles on her 108th birthday last Thursday, and there’s a lot of life still left in her as she made a wish to visit her birthplace yet again. She still remembers her last trip to Castellorizo when she was aged in her late 80s.
Born Eleni Galettis on 30 January 1912, she survives another seven siblings which, as the eldest daughter, she helped to bring up.
Her granddaughter Chris Walker had a party for her grandmother at her Vaucluse home, attended by family members.
“She helped bring her brothers and sisters out from Greece as she was the first to come to Australia,” Ms Walker told Neos Kosmos, speaking of her grandmother, the pioneer who came to Australia in 1931, pregnant with her now deceased firstborn son, Anthony. “She was a mother figure to her nephews and nieces because she was established, and they all lived two streets from each other in Kingsford.”
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Later, the family grew and her children moved to Vaucluse. After turning 102, Helen’s legs gave way and she was taken to Rosebay nursing home where she could have 24-hour care. “It’s right next door to St George, and my grandmother has always been very religious,” Ms Walker said, adding that apart from religion, other interests include cooking and needlework, where she has crocheted intricate tablecloths. In the early days in Australia, she also worked with her husband in their seafood business on William Street.
These days, Kyra Eleni is wheelchair-bound but she still has her faculties. “She’ll talk about the Depression, and tell us about people living in tents at Hyde Park,” Ms Walker said. “When she turned 100 she got a letter from Queen Elizabeth and former prime minister Julia Gillard.
She has grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren and the family has pondered as to what it is that has lead to their grandmother having such a long life. “It certainly isn’t in the genes as others in the family haven’t lived that long. And her life hasn’t been easy or happy all the time as there were deaths in the family, losing children, grandchildren and other difficulties,” Ms Walker said. “But she fasts a lot for her religion and puts cloves in her tea every day.”
She also sets goals for the future and still looks forward to visiting Castellorizo again some day.
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