Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness
the Wednesday Whisper
23rd January – My Mum’s Birthday
Had she lived, my mum would have been 90 this year. Since this blog falls on her birthday, I’d like to share a couple of stories.
In her heyday, she was a fierce, formidable woman who made her presence felt. Having lost her teen years to World War 2 and experienced extreme hardship in Malta, my mother had a mixture of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and reckless courage that comes from having lived through atrocities.
My mum could start a fight with anyone, like the time she deliberately walked into a local Halal butcher and asked for Pork in order to provoke a conversation about whether God would really prevent him from doing business with his neighbour? Or when our house was put under a compulsory purchase order and I didn’t go to school for weeks because she marched me to the housing office every day where we stayed all day while she shouted at the housing officer relentlessly across the whole office until we got a council house she liked (I had to go with her because her English wasn’t so great).
Growing up in London, we were the only Maltese people in our neighbourhood so I found it very embarrassing as a child to talk about my home life because it seemed that we lived very differently to other people. For example, as a child my bedtime was not until 10 or 11pm because dinner wasn’t until 9 or 10pm. Of course, in Malta they lived with an afternoon siesta from 1pm to 4pm which was nap time but I was in school during those hours so while everyone other parent was making their kids do homework at 4pm and my mum wanted me to have a nap! I was then up late watching Hammer House of Horror movies but the teachers didn’t believe me.
We spoke a language no one else understood or had heard of. We didn’t eat the same food as everyone else. My friends talked about beans on toast, jam sandwiches and egg and chips while I was eating brodu, timpana and hobz biz-zejt (exactly!) and she would go mad if I suggested I wanted beans on toast, ‘Rubbish food’ she would pronounce though she did concede and start making chips. My mum dutifully prepared 3 meals a day without fail. Then, Findus brought out Crispy Pancakes which she adored so while we continued to eat the same food, every meal came with a Findus Crispy Pancake and chips.
It wasn’t until I went to Malta for the first time when I was 21, my whole life made sense. There were other people speaking this language I grew up with, the food was what I knew and most of all, the Maltese are loud, shouty and very argumentative and we were normal!. I found my belonging.
It kind of makes sense that I have chosen the path of dialogue and service to people who are hard to reach, marginalised or discriminated against – right?
Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness
My mum was a major influence in my life and my children’s. Not always easy but unforgettable.
The Wednesday Whisper
How has your mum influenced your life?
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