In her 101 years of life, Hariclea Psaltis has been a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a loving friend.
Now, she can add another title to her list as well – that of being the oldest member of the Kytherian Association of Australia (KAA).
To celebrate this achievement, The Greek Herald sat down with Hariclea’s son, Cos Psaltis, to hear all about his incredible mum and how she continues to live a life full of love and laughter.
From Kythera to Australia:
Born in 1921 in Mitata on the Greek island of Kythera, Hariclea migrated by ship to Australia via Egypt in her mid-20s to meet the man who would one day become her husband, George.
“People asked her, ‘why did you leave to come out to marry someone you didn’t really know in Australia?’ and she said, ‘I wasn’t going to marry anyone on the island’,” Cos says with a laugh.
Ultimately, the decision to have an arranged marriage in Australia was a good one. Hariclea and George grew their family with two sons, two daughters and four grandchildren, and they were also successful business owners.
The couple owned a café in the Sydney suburb of Neutral Bay, before moving to one in Spit Junction. Although Hariclea didn’t know the English language well, she was always willing to help out at the cafés and she was loved by the local community.
“They all liked her. Because it was a café and she used to cook Greek food for us, some of the customers would come in and say, ‘we want to eat what you’re eating’ and she’d let them have it,” Cos explains.
‘She doesn’t look 101’:
Of course, when Hariclea wasn’t helping out at the café, she dedicated the rest of her time to her four children.
The 101-year-old encouraged the children to immerse themselves in the Greek culture and its traditions, and also organised a few trips to Kythera.
“I mean she was a Greek mother but she was good,” Cos says with a smile.
“You hear about Greek parents being over the top but they weren’t really. They were quite balanced in the end. All I know is that often I’m surprised by what she says in that her thinking is sort of very modern.”
Does Cos believe this more progressive outlook on life is the secret to Hariclea’s longevity?
“She’s always grown vegetables and had a garden and cooked so I think that’s probably what contributes to her health,” Cos answers.
“She’s never smoked, she rarely drank and she’s always active. She’s never been to a hospital either except to have children, which isn’t bad for someone her age.
“She doesn’t even look 101. She looks quite good.”
A glowing outlook for a Kytherian woman whose life story deserves to be told.