Trip to Greece reaps its rewards
Journey from RP to Macedonia renews kinship ties for Robert and Kathy Grant
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By Jud Snyder  August 16, 2013 12:00 am

We Americans are so used to newspaper photos or TV reports of police pushing around demonstrators waving protest signs, people running from clouds of tear gas and beleaguered European citizens with blood-stained shirts, we tend to think, “Omigosh, it must be terrible over there!”

Well, that’s not the real story. We got the updated summary from Ekaterini Topouzi (“Please call me ‘Kathy’”), better known as Mrs. Robert Grant, of Rohnert Park. 

Thessalonika is big city

They’ve just come back from visiting Kathy’s aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews who all live in Macedonia, the northern part of Greece. Biggest city of the area is Thessalonika (be careful looking for it on a map – it has various spellings). Macedonia is closer to Bulgaria on the east, Albania on the west with Kosovo and Serbia, (the former Yugoslavia), on the north, than it is to Athens. It’s that far north of the Mediterranean yet still a thriving seaport on its own harbor.

“Greece gets a lot of attention from the press because they’re louder in their complaints and know how to reach the people, more so than the Italians or Spaniards. The Greeks stand up and shout their woes.” said Kathy. “Everything’s available, home appliances, food, transportation, good schools where English is taught as a second language and many tourists. If you have the money, of course, and if you have a job despite the high unemployment rate in Thessalonika and other cities. We had a military government, but we stood up and threw them out. People are hurting and the situation with the European Union hasn’t really helped us the past few years.” 

Similar to California

She likened the situation to the one she found in California. “I don’t see that much difference.”

Robert and Kathy Grant have been married for 31 years. They have three adult children living nearby in Sonoma and Marin counties. They met at a birthday party held in Frankfurt where Robert’s father was stationed with the U.S. Army. She was still a teenager when she met Robert and it was practically love at first sight. Later, his father was sent to the Presidio in San Francisco, and the young married couple went to the West Coast along with him.

They lived with his father in Marin County, and Kathy remembered bringing her children, two girls and one boy, to Sonoma County so the kids could get acquainted with the farm animals they loved. After his father retired from the Army, they moved to Rohnert Park. The kids have their own families and the Grants share their A Section home with two dogs, including one old blind and deaf diabetic and friendly dog named Roscoe they’re caring for.

Hooked by a Pentax

Robert’s a professional photographer, has had many of his photos printed in The Community Voice. “I got hooked on it when my father bought me a small Pentax camera, it used 110 millimeter film back then.

“It had all the bells and whistles, zoom, wide angle, changeable lenses and flash attachments. I still have it, but now I use a bigger camera and everything’s digital.”

Their marriage of 31 years is typical of the 21st century. Robert’s mostly African-American with several other ethnic ancestries mixed in; Kathy’s got a grand mixture of Greek, Macedonian and traces of Balkan ancestry in her heritage. They keep in close touch with their children and grandchildren.

“We go back to Macedonia about every three years to do the touristy things and visit with my relatives,” said Kathy. “The citizens do complain about the conditions but that’s just the Greek thing to do, after all, they’ve had several thousands of years of history behind them. The war between Bosnians and Serbs and their various religious allies hasn’t affected Macedonia too much, although there are still tensions in certain parts of the country.”

Post Your Comments:
John
August 27, 2013
Elaborate on the Macedonian, bc Greeks call themselves Greeks only when it comes to Macedonia do they refer to as "Greek Macedonian". I don't here about Spartans Greeks or Macedonian Greeks in census's or any immigration records around the world. Matter of fact anything before 1912 it was Macedonia never a part of Greek land. Macedonia existed before the name Greece even hit history books. Also the red cross didn't have that title after the Greeks occupied Macedonia and murdered innocent people and destroyed villages of Macedonians. You might want to read about what Athens policy is to being a Macedonian and what people went through just being Macedonian. Greece is nothing more then a country of thieves. "Northern Greece" is a modern term to the division of Macedonia. The Treaty of Bucharest 1912 clearly states the occupation of Macedonia along with Serbia and Bulgaria's gain in territory. The Macedonians were forced to join these nations, innocent people suffered. This is just the tip of the iceberg with them. Greeks were migrated to "Northern Greece" Macedonia in 1920's from turkey to populate Macedonia. Land was given out to Greeks.
Maybe people need to watch the Documentary "NextyearinLerin" to explain what Greek policy is to humanity. Please stop spreading lies bc innocent men, women and children suffered bc of the Greek ideology. Macedonians have been denied basic rights Church's and schools. This is not a democratic nation by 1%. Anyone needs more info on this constant barbaric system please refer to Florina.org.
Once again stop using made up terms like Former Yugoslav. These crimes will come to light, bc innocent people shouldn't suffer bc of a radical ideology Greek Government tries to teach. Nazi's tried to promote the same idea for themselves of being pure people. I write to make people aware of the lies and what the Greek government hides. Next people visit Northern Greece please visit and tell the Greeks to stop there racism and in human way of living. Macedonians have lost there land by force and continue to suffer by Greek pressure to surrender there heritage. No human should be forced to change there identity.
Kathy and her family have joined this ideology and promote an ideology that hurts innocent people.
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