Beacon Hill resident stays connected to family in Greece

Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 11:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:57 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
For decades, longtime Downers Grove resident Dimis Wyman has been sponsoring foster children. Wyman's eyes light up when she talks about the family of the Greek girl she first sponsored as a foster child when the girl was 12. The recent resident of Beacon Hill retirement community in Lombard is hoping to visit them in Greece, again.

LOMBARD – Photos of Dimis Wyman’s children and grandchildren are scattered throughout her apartment at Beacon Hill.

There’s a large photo of her son, Blair, on his wedding day, and then there are photos of people with dark hair and olive skin who bear few physical similarities to Wyman. These pictures are of her foster daughter, Vasiliki, and Vasiliki’s children and grandchildren.

In the mid-1960s, Wyman, 75, joined a program now called Plan International USA, an organization that connects children in poor countries to sponsors in America. She was assigned to support Vasiliki, who lived in a mountainous village of Greece.

A few years before, she traveled to the country and fell in love with its beauty, history and culture.

“I requested a Greek,” she said. “I was very faithful [about corresponding]. I still have children through the organization, but I never got to know a family like this.”

Shortly after being connected to Vasiliki, Wyman visited Greece and paid for her foster daughter and her mother to meet her in Athens. Vasiliki was 12 years old at the time but looked more like 8, Wyman said.

This visit is what sealed the deal for the two.

“It’s a big source of pride for them that someone came to visit them,” Wyman said.

Since the initial visit, she’s gone back to see Vasiliki and her growing family about a dozen times. She was there when Vasiliki’s first child was born and has brought many of her own family members and friends to visit, including her son, Blair.

“It was remarkable, her relationship with the family,” Wyman’s son said. “It was simply the foster parent program where you send pictures and money, but my mom took it the extra few steps and became invested.”

He visited the family in Greece when he was 10 years old, and again at age 16. Blair is 45 and said he’s looking forward to visiting again with his mother in the future.

Although Wyman never has spoken more than a few words to Vasiliki without the help of a translator, she knows their relationship is strong. She brings gifts when she visits and has given modest financial support to the family over the years, but money has never been her primary way of supporting them.

“It’s never been about the money,” she said. “It’s always been because someone is interested in them.”

Today, Vasiliki is the mother of four grown children and seven grandchildren. She lives with her family in Chrysomelia, a small mountainous village, where they work hard at agrarian jobs to make a living. Her two sons work in a cheese factory, and her daughters work with their husbands tending sheep and growing food.

Despite the distance, the language barriers and cultural differences, Wyman remains a strong figure in the lives of Vasiliki, her children and grandchildren – and they are just as important in her life.

“It’s been such an incredible relationship, because they’re just incredible people,” she said. “Love. We just dearly love each other. It’s something I can’t explain.”

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