Today I will write on a personal matter, if you permit me to. My parents.
My father Manwel from Rabat spend approximately 40 years working in the hospitals of the time as an SRN. He toured all the hospitals. He moved to Ħamrun with his family to be closer to the San Luqa hospital. I remember how my father used to take me to Anton Buttigieg, where poetry was always read. I remember when my father would ask Toni to send over his driver, who would come in an enormous black car, and I would be taken on a tour of the Presidential Palace because I had told him that I was interested in the History of the Knights of Malta.
None of my friends believed me when I told them about this grand adventure. They thought that I had made it all up!
At just over 50 years old, my father lost his wife, who left him with two young women and two young men.
To pass the time and to find some peace and quiet, Manwel would go to the Barrakka ta’ Fuq.
My mother Polly was from Valletta, from Strada San Paolo. A large family required my mother to leave school at a young age so that she could help out her mother at home. Her sisters had all left to Australia so she had to take care of her brothers. She had a hard and trying life.
To pass the time and to find some peace and quiet, Polly would go to the Barrakka ta’ Fuq.
I think by now you must realise that my mother and father met at the Barrakka. Time passed and they got married, and eventually they had me. I was a rambunctious child, and my mother was always worried that I would hurt myself. I was always out and about on the streets in Ħamrun. When the Spartans used to play, or during San Gejtanu feast her anxiety would double. She would always wait for me on our front door, worried that my dinner would get cold.
I had a more easy-going relationship with my father, I could be more of myself. My father was 30 years older than my mother, and after a 30 year loving marriage with my mother he passed away. He was 84 years old.
My mother stopped living her life after that. She locked herself in and no longer wanted anything to do with the outside world. I was as though she had died too, she existed, and she did not live. She stopped going out, she almost stopped cooking. Everything stopped. She was widowed at 54.
She passed on the same day she turned 68. I was left without the two greatest pillars, the greatest teachers I have had in my life.
I am writing all of this because when I lost my wife, I remembered and practiced that which I had learned from my mother and my father. I did not want to be like my mother and lock myself inside to simply exist. I wanted to live.
I learned from my father that for all its brunt, life continues. I wanted to live.
The aim of our group is for us, the members, to help each other live even despite what we have been through, and despite the difficulty of our lives with the waves always beating against us, we still say that life is beautiful.
We want to live, we have the right and the duty. Don’t forget my friends, don’t waste away your energy on death, but use it on life.
Life is full of decisions. Small decisions like what’s for dinner, what to wear, or if to send that message, or big decisions about family, work and the direction of our lives. All those who are responsible for the direction of a group, or any other entity in their diversity all know the weight that these decisions can carry, and do wrong in thinking that everyone will always agree with their decisions.
When I decide something, either my daughter or my son will disagree – my dog intercedes with her barking as well! I’m worried when all three of them agree, because it’s nearly impossible to please everyone – there’s always something!
In the group, the need to take decisions arises often, and neither I nor my friends on the committee expect to agree with each other every time. That is the beauty of this group.
A while back I was reading an interesting article on this subject where the author argued that a person makes hundreds of decisions a day. I don’t know my exact number but I know for certain that everything is a decision. We decided to join this group, we also decided that we should help others in this trying and delicate time. The respect we show one another is also another decision.
The unique scope of this group is to offer support, and this is what we will always remain. We will also continue to obey and abide by the regulations of our statute and in the coming times we will together be re-evaluating the statute in order to change it to reflect the ever-changing realities of modern life and recent laws. We will discuss it when the time comes.
Last but not least, I would like to thank you on behalf of myself and the committee for all your positive comments, as you all know our family is growing. I don’t rate our success on the number of our members, but on the progress of our members, and the difference the group makes in their lives.
Do not forget my friends, do not waste your energy on death, but focus it on living.
The White Flag
Have you ever felt like flying the white flag and giving up? I have many times felt like throwing in the towel like they do in boxing matches when one can no longer bear the blows of daily life – because life is rough, and life as a widower is even rougher.
The White Flag saying dates back to the Roman Empire, when the first people to use it were the Carthaginians on one of their naval vessels during the second Punic War against the Romans. They used palm tree branches covered with white fabric to signal the laying down of arms.
The fact that you have lived with a person for many years, and then knowing that they will no longer be physically present in your life is an exceedingly difficult prospect to bear and to accept – but, as they say life must go on, and I decided to live. Spending our lives yearning to change the past is wasteful of our lives, the past is after all already set in stone and can never be revised. The present is far more important in this life, more so than the future as some people say because there are no guarantees in the future.
Many times we spend our time thinking on the past, and on how our lives may be if things had not happened in the way that they did. In the roadmap of our lives, we must not dwell on what was lost, or what we had to leave behind, but we must instead look toward how far we’ve come and how much further we can go.
Despite it all, I still see life as beautiful with all its ups and downs. We the members of this group all traversed different roads that lead us to the same destination of losing our loved ones. Therefore we must be the ones to understand and support one another even with our differences, as support remains always the principal value of this group, and through it we help each other to avoid the white flag.
This Newsletter is doubled, and includes the months of July and August. Although we will not be meeting at Project House we will still maintain our Friday appointment. I wish you all a pleasant summer.
Thank you all,
Do you consider yourselves to be patient?
Certainly at some point or another throughout your life you have had the urge to burst out all of your anger or frustration. It is important for one to understand that in order to be patient with others, one must first practice patience with oneself.
With our patience we must accept our own flaws and mistakes, after all there is no use crying over spilt milk – the error has already happened, anger and frustration will not turn back time! Our energy is better applied to avoiding the repetition of the error in the future.
It would also be beneficial for us to try our utmost to understand ourselves, and our shortcomings in order to address them and improve. This is after all a lifelong process.
To be patient means to be able to exercise self-control in situations that do not turn out in the manner that they were planned, be it your fault or the fault of others – this is not always easy, especially during trying times. Therefore, it does not make sense when you lose your patience on insignificant things – like a person having an opinion that opposes yours, or a personality that does not mesh with yours.
We cannot expect things to always turn out in our favour – at some point or another we will encounter people who will wrong us. We must understand that we are all individuals that differ from each other, and we all navigate things in our own way.
One may ask themselves if there is anyone in particular that makes them lose their patience, perhaps because of the manner in which this person speaks or acts, and if such an individual does exist, how will one control themselves?
When you lose your patience, your emotions take the better of you and you will almost always end up saying things that you may later regret.
I was always taught that when I am about to lose my patience, I should limit my words and leave decisions to the times in which I am calmer. Therefore it is my wish that we all practice more patience, tolerance and acceptance with each other through our positivity and negativity.
I hope that you have not lost your patience while reading this.
We have a good program set out for this month. I thank you all for your cooperation, while encouraging you to continue attending our activities.
Thank you all.
I have spent some time thinking about this first article. I must confess to you – I was going to write about death and how it has brought us together. After a while, my thoughts went in another direction, and I decided to write about life. There are those who say that we only have one life, I think that we only have one death, while life is something that we have to do every day. Therefore I think that it is for the better that I write about something that we go through so often.
When one goes through what we have, the truth is that we are then left with very limited choices – either to close yourself off from the world and from your loved ones, to the detriment to them and yourself or to do the courageous thing and to try to move forward, little by little. It is not easy, but this is where our group comes in. Our purpose is to support one another, and this will always remain our purpose.
Watching the progress of our members through this difficult road brings with it a great amount of satisfaction. This happens through the joint effort of everyone, through the way that we welcome new members and though the way in which we do our utmost to assist others through the sharing of our experiences.
We need to understand and appreciate our own individuality, we are unique in our dispositions and temperament, and we have to understand that sometimes it is better to omit words that we would regret later, because we do not always know what other individuals have been through – no one can benefit from judging, or judging others.
Our new Committee will continue to build upon the good work of our previous one. There will be new ideas, which when necessary will be discussed with our members. Do not hesitate to come forward with your suggestions, we will try to implement them when possible.
I will close by wishing all the best to our new Committee in their work for our members and thanking Louise and Mark for their work in the previous Committee.
Now I must address Maria Borg – I am certain that I can speak for everyone when I say that we are all indebted to this woman, who has dedicated so many years of selfless work toward the growth and unity of this group.
Thank you Mark, Louise and Maria.
Do not forget my friends, do not waste your energy on death, but focus it on life.