Farewell to Fofi Gennimata

All people have the same fate awaiting them. There is absolutely no discrimination in this matter; there are absolutely no exceptions. We are all equal before death.

We all have an expiration date. We (fortunately) just don’t know when it is.

Most of us, however, live as if we do not know these truths. We live without any preparation for the time of our death – whether the preparation is mental, practical, and/or spiritual – for example, the settlement of our earthly affairs or preparation for what we will find beyond the grave. We act as if we are immortal. Until it’s too late.

I do not know if Fofi Gennimata – the leader of KINAL, Greece’s third largest political party – would have become the leader of a major political party if she were not named Gennimata. If she were not the daughter of the late PASOK minister Georgios Gennimatas.

But what I do know is that I discerned an iron self-control, a calm presence, a dignity in her. From the time she was admitted to Memorial Hospital here in New York, to her time in the Greek Parliament even when other politicians were shouting in their debates, she stayed measured in her expressions.

Extremism, extreme populism, and unbridled ambition were absent. As if she knew something. She lived her politics and life with purpose. As if paving the way for her ultimate exit from life. She lived a life of dignity, and death found her waiting with dignity.

And that is why today she is being recognized and appreciated by all of us. Political allies, but also opponents. Because the average person distinguished something authentic, stable, timeless about her.

There are many meteorites who envy the ‘glory’ of the other. One strives to surpass the other in exaggeration, even in vulgarity. They launch themselves to great heights for a moment, only to soon come crashing back down to Earth. Their moment in the sun does not last long.

After the death of the great composer Mikis Theodorakis (and I wish he had remained devoted only to music), and despite the exaggerations that we read – noteworthy was his long obituary published in the New York Times – especially its last paragraph. The death of Fofi Gennimata even more so deprives us of another leader with memory and knowledge of the struggles that building today’s Greece entailed. But let us follow their example, so that we can preserve what we have and envision and create an even better Greece.


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