Stomatis Moraitis was a war veteran who arrived in Florida from the Greek Island of Ikaria in 1943 to have treatment for a combat wound.
Along with his wife and three children the United States became his home. But then in 1976 while climbing the stairs he noticed he was becoming breathless.
Chest x-rays showed he had developed lung cancer, which was confirmed by nine other doctors.
Given 9 months to live and offered aggressive treatment Stomatis made the decision to return to the island of Ikaria with his wife Elpiniki. There he could be buried in the cemetery overlooking the sea.
They returned to his parents pretty white washed house amongst the vineyards, where Stomatis prepared to die.
At first he spent his days in bed being tended to by his wife and mother. On Sundays he would go to church where his grandfather had been a priest. There he would see his old friends. They would talk for hours over a few bottles of wine. Stomatis thought he may as well die happy.
About 6 months passed and Stomatis began to feel stronger.
He started to plant vegetables, tended to the vineyard and played dominoes with his friends in the village. He basked in the sunshine, drank in the fresh air, enjoyed the local food and sipped on the famous Greek Mountain Tea.
Years went by during which he extended his parents home for his children and worked hard in the vineyard where it produced 400 gallons of wine a year.
He lived way beyond his predicted expiration date by over 40 years, and when he returned to the US some years later to visit the doctors who had diagnosed him he found they had all died.
Stomatis passed away peacefully at the age of 102, and not of cancer, on February the 3rd 2013.
He never sought any therapy, he just went home.
HOW TO LIVE TO 100
The island of Ikaria is in one of the Blue Zones, a region in the world where the inhabitants live much longer than average.
Stomatis has much to teach us –
- Have a sense of purpose
- Get some sunshine
- Don’t clock watch, Stomatis never looked at his watch
- Listen to your body and take a nap if you need to
- Laugh with your friends
- Reconnect with your faith
- Find your tribe and surround yourself with people who love you
- Get out in nature and walk
- Eat honey and take herbs
- Enjoy your garden and tending to your plants
- Enjoy a glass of organic wine
I often wonder with Stomatis, was it just that he came back to a place he felt most at home, both in himself and with his surroundings.
The study of epigenetics has shown us that genes are constantly expressing themselves for good or bad, according to their environment.
So in short doing activities, having thoughts, being with people that make us feel well and happy may be more life saving than we think.
See Stomatis in this short video here tending to the olives.
“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”