Simple pleasures

Naomi Murray from Botanica Health in Rusthall reveals the fascinating story of Stomatis Moratis, a US war veteran who was diagnosed with cancer but went on to live for decades thanks to being in tune with his simple surroundings in Greece….


I recently returned from a trip to the Greek island of Kefalonia feeling ever more assured that the more we tune in to our surroundings the healthier we are.

Modern life has a way of disconnecting us from nature but study after study shows the benefits we reap, both psychologically and physically from being ‘in-tune’.

Sometimes we hear stories on this that leave an indelible mark. Stories that fill us with hope and joy…

As we journeyed back to the airport I shared with our driver the true story of a man called Stomatis Moratis who came from the island of Ikaria, and he in turn told me about the local goat herder who climbs the mountain four times a day, caring for 1,000 goats, from whose milk he makes yoghurt and feta.

Looking up we could see his humble abode, a little whitewashed stone hut with just enough room for a bed and table.

He makes tea from the wild thyme, its beautiful purple hue adorning the hillsides everywhere you look.

I learned he is toned and muscular, looking many years younger than his remarkable age of 96. I imagine he is a lithe, strong man with a great sense of purpose.

Stomatis, however I don’t need to imagine. I have seen his face and watched him harvesting his olives many times. Although he has now passed away he still lives on in these snapshot recordings of his life.

Stomatis 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 just nine months to live and only 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 and they would talk for hours over a few bottles of wine. Stomatis thought he may as well die happy.

About six 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 he worked hard in the vineyard, which 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 on February 3 2013. It is important to note that he didn’t die of cancer.

He never sought any therapy when he was diagnosed, he just went home.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter