CULTURE

‘Children are a blessing,’ says great-grandmother of 64 children Maria Psarommatis

Yesterday’s front-page photograph in Kathimerini of three of the 64 great-grandchildren of 97-year-old Panayiotis and 89-year-old Maria Psarommatis, the largest and certainly the happiest family in Greece, was truly touching. The three little boys, dressed in suits and shiny new shoes for their visit to President Karolos Papoulias, were nodding off while waiting to meet the country’s head of state. The photograph, slotted among front-page news reports about talks in New York over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a parliamentary debate on the environment and a drop in interest rates on Wall Street, brought a rare smile to readers’ lips. The president decided to mark Large Family Day, along with the head of the Supreme Confederation of Large Families of Greece and the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Solidarity Giorgos Constantopoulos by honoring the Psarommatis family. The couple, from the island of Elafonissos off the coast of Laconia, have been married for 70 years and have a total of 14 children. They in turn, sharing their parents’ belief that «children are a blessing» and «the more the merrier» gave their parents 58 grandchildren, who in turn produced 82 great-grandchildren. Maria says «all of them fit into my embrace.» Part of the family, 101 members, visited the president, while the other 80 live in the US. The youngest, a girl of two-and-a-half months, stole the show. Maria had her first child at the age of 17 and her youngest at 45. The only problem they have encountered is finding a space large enough when they get together for celebrations. «Our home has always been filled with the voices and laughter of children, the older ones look after the younger ones, and they help each other. If that isn’t happiness, what is?» she said.