Liberty’s leap: MetroWest resident discusses challenges of penning memoir
Liberty Goetsch took a leap of faith when she emigrated to the United States through an arranged marriage to a man she had never met. She left her home in the Greek island of Cyprus in pursuit of a better life. She doesn’t consider herself a writer, but she thinks her story is one worth telling.
Liberty, whose full name is Eleftheria Eleftheriou Constantinou Goetsch, was 20 years old when she came to the U.S. Now 62, she recently released a memoir that documents her life’s story, titled “Life, Liberty and My Pursuit of Happiness.”
Penning her life story brought about many challenges for Liberty. After growing up poor with an abusive, alcoholic father and being married to an unfaithful first husband, writing some parts of the book brought back some painful memories. She also had to overcome a language barrier with the writing itself.
Although some memories were difficult to write about, getting them down on paper was therapeutic. Additionally, Liberty’s current husband, Gary, gave her a helping hand with the writing to help her overcome the language barrier, she said.
“It was nice to get it out, because I was holding it in for so long,” Liberty said. “When it was done, and it got delivered to my house, I started crying. It was very, very emotional.”
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Liberty’s parents arranged the marriage that brought her to the U.S. — a common practice in Greece in the 1970s. She said one of the reasons she decided to come to America was to get away from her controlling father.
It was the first time she had been on an airplane. She arrived in New York City and was picked up by her soon-to-be father-in-law and mother-in-law, who took her to their home in Connecticut. Days after arriving in Connecticut, she met her new husband-to-be for the first time.
“I had to wait four days to meet my future husband, because he was up in Boston (for) school,” Liberty said, adding that her in-laws lied to her about what he was studying. “(Before) I came here, they told me that my husband is going to school to be a doctor. So, when I got here, they told me he’s not going to be a doctor. Now he’s going to be a mechanical engineer.”
She added that this lie was just the first of many.
“From the beginning, there were lies and lies and lies, one after the other (from my in-laws),” Liberty said.
Liberty and her first husband ended up running two successful restaurants in Connecticut until they moved to Florida in the 1980s.
MOVING FOR THE MOUSE
Their restaurant success in Connecticut is what drove Liberty and her first husband to sell everything they had and move to Kissimmee in 1986.
“We moved to Florida to make more money and open more restaurants,” Liberty said. “We used to come on vacation to Disney, and my husband, being in the restaurant business … he thought that he could come to Florida, open a big restaurant and make lots of money, because all the restaurants were so busy.”
She said their Florida restaurant stayed in business for about two years. However, declining business forced them to close. The issues with the restaurant took a toll on her marriage. They eventually divorced.
The marriage lasted about 10 years. Liberty and her first husband had two daughters, whom Liberty had raised by herself after the divorce with no support from her first husband.
“He went back to Connecticut and made a life for himself,” Liberty said. “He gave us nothing — no child support, nothing. … I stayed here and worked three jobs to support my kids.”
In 1992, Liberty met her current husband, Gary, while he was in the area on a business trip.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
After meeting Gary in 1992, they dated long distance for three years. They married in 1995 and moved into their home in MetroWest.
Liberty learned English by watching television and working in the restaurant business, so her writing in English wasn’t the best.
“I didn’t know how much I was going to need Gary’s help,” Liberty said. “I wrote a page on my computer with my poor English, and Gary would come up and spell-check everything and make sure I said (things) right.”
She added that writing the book in English was one of her greatest challenges. In addition to the language barrier, Liberty also has dyslexia.
“In English, we learn how to put phrases together, and she lacks that,” Gary said. “She might say, ‘I gone to somewhere,’ instead of, ‘I went to somewhere.’”