The Malta Independent 20 October 2020, Tuesday

A mother’s love is always in bloom

Marie Benoît Sunday, 10 May 2020, 11:00 Last update: about 6 months ago

A handful of personalities pay tribute to their mother. They have two things in common: they are all artists and their mother gave them birth and nurtured them. The same cannot be said for millions who are aborted every year. Let those who were granted the gift of life speak for themselves.

Adele Borg - Artist

My mother Theresa was a teacher before she married. I was the eldest of their children.

According to many people I'm the one who looks most like her.

We lived in a huge house in Lija part of which Tonio and myself still inhabit. It has a very big garden, ideal for kids to play in and enjoy on sunny days.

We had a very happy childhood with cousins visiting and sleeping over. There were plenty of pets: cats and dogs,  birds, hamsters and lots of snails joining in the fun.


Artist and enfant terrible Adele with her mother

My elder brother, Henry and I as well as my youngest brother Mark were very naughty as children whilst my sister Angela was always playing with dolls with our cousin.

I cannot say that I was close to my parents as a teenager. I was very rebellious and I'm the one who gave them most trouble. I was a sort of enfant terrible.

I suppose the only one who managed to tame me a little was my husband Tonio.

My parents were very fond of Tonio and our three children Daniela, Mark and Adriana and my mother is still very close to my children. She used to babysit often for us and as a consequence there is a lovely bond between them.

My mother Theresa is a great grandmother to my children's kids,  now four of them, so far. Here they are: Timmy, Emma, Alex and Baby Jack who is just two weeks old.

Before the arrival of this horrid Coronavirus my children used to visit her regularly and during every phone call I make to my mother she asks after them all including their husbands, Ian and Gabriel and Mark's wife Martina.

She is now frail and a little confused and since we cannot visit she's become very lonely because although she lives in an old people's home she was never one to have many friends.
Like everyone else I'm hoping for all this to pass as quickly as possible.

Alex Manché - Thoractic Surgeon

The picture says it all. We are both looking out at the camera declaring we are an item. And for the 58 years we enjoyed one another's company our bond never wavered.

We all called her Francine and she was the life and soul of the party.

Alex Manché out for a walk with his best friend, his mother Francine

Funny, outspoken, often embarrassingly so, but always sincere and without malice. Francine was my best friend. She praised me on odd occasions and also let me know her displeasure: "you never study!" She brimmed with energy until the very end and when we needed encouragement to go out rather than vegetate at home she always did the trick: "I'm already in bed, but if you call for me I'd love to join you for dinner!" Anywhere that served chips on the menu would do.

We always laughed and gossiped as Francine was a treasure-trove of information thanks to her regular rummy parties. When dad passed away Francine became my best travel companion. After a while I gave up on the cultural info, as that was not her forte. But within a minute of entering a restaurant Francine would discover the private lives of every waiter. Her friendliness was disarming.

I do wish I could be more like her!

Anna Galea - Watercolourist

I'm overcome by waves of love and nostalgia, happiness and sadness, warmth and heartache as fond memories of a dear mother flood my heart.

My mother, Marianne Aquilina, was an exceptional woman and our relationship sometimes peaked at mutual admiration and at other times mutual frustration.  She was totally and selflessly dedicated to family and as long as we three siblings were well (and I do mean, very well...) fed and cared for, no sacrifice was too big for her.  

Artist Anna Galea and her mother Marianne

Her lasagna and bragioli and patata l-forn were to die for and I so looked forward to returning home from school to see what nutritious yummy meal was waiting for me, complete with healthy dessert, at table the minute I walked in.

She provided us with the best education she could afford and followed up on our school homework.  

Mother was creative and clever... she taught me how to cook, sew, crochet and how to live happily with what we had.  We discussed the news and above all she made sure we siblings emulated her honest values - the importance of humility and consideration for others.

I miss her cheerful, lovely smile.  Although nearly eight years have gone by since she passed away, she is still at times oh so very vividly present.

Christopher Saliba - Gozitan Artist

All that I am or ever hoped to be, I owe to my mum. Her affection and teachings meant so much to me in my childhood and formative years. If I have done anything in life worth attention, I am pretty sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother. Her concerns have always been those of surrounding me and my brothers with love and comfort, and she always anticipated our needs. My mum gave up the most important things in her life so that we could take on the most important things in ours. I appreciate all the sacrifices she made. Like any other motherhood, hers has a long history of joy, happiness, successes, pride, challenges, struggles and sorrow.

Christopher as a toddler and his mother Carmen in the Gozitan countryside

She always believed in me and my potential and encourages me to be positive and do my best. She still supports my dreams and ideas, even when they seem far-fetched and hard to fulfill. Thank you Carmen for loving me, my wife and kids and for being always there for us.  I love you mum.

C.S. Lawrence - Artist and illustrator

My mother was the classic Irish beauty: wavy auburn hair, a wit that caused mayhem at dinner parties and, as is often the case with red heads, a temper to floor the toughest opponents. The severe poverty of her childhood in Ireland forged a will of iron and at the age of seventeen she fled Ireland and boarded a ferry to Liverpool. From there she hitch-hiked to London to join the Women's Royal Navy Service. That decision dramatically changed her life.

She was soon posted to Egypt where she met my father, a dashing wealthy ship chandler servicing the British Navy. It was love at first sight and they married soon after. The 1956 Suez Canal crisis brought their exotic life to a halt and they left, destitute, for East Africa. The colonial lifestyle was flamboyant but not always happy times for my mother. Her childhood nemesis haunted her, especially since having an Arabic surname, she often met with cutting remarks from other colonial wives. 

Artist Caroline Said Lawrence and her Irish mother

In 1969 political turmoil forced them to leave Kenya and head for the Arabian Gulf. These dramatic shifts of fortune took their toll on my mother and she ended her days a shadow of her former self. But my memory of her remains that of a beautiful, ambitious, fiery tempered and captivating woman. 

Frank O'Neill - Artist And Entertainer

Growing up in the 50s conjures up beautiful memories of a magical childhood when life was so much more calm and simple.

My mum was not yet 20 when she married and I was a honeymoon baby. Our Sliema house was big enough for lodgers, so we usually had a British services family sharing it with us. We were brought up to speak English and Maltese fluently as mum, a sociable woman easily made friends.

I played with the kids and sharing our house and life was, all in all, great.

Mum made sure we all had what we needed. When my sister Roseann was born two years later and my late brother Raymond ten years later life became busier especially since my late father, William, was away in Germany with the RMA and she had to be both mother and father to us. But she soldiered on and made sure we had all we needed. When the last of my siblings, Kevin was born in '68, I became a quasi surrogate father as I was 17 years his senior.

Amazingly mum handled us with real energy and care and when my dad came back from abroad he would find a tightly knit family to welcome him.

Losing her son at the age of 39 was particularly hard on my mother and dad and must have left a real void especially since it happened before they were about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

My dad passed in 2009 and since then my mother has had some health issues. But her fighting spirit has shone through. She is our treasure and the glue that holds us all together. May the Lord Bless and keep her.


John V. Borg - Artist

My mother Rita Borg was married at the tender age of 16 and by the time she was 18 she was already a mother of two. Little did she know that four years later, and now the mother of three daughters and two sons, she was to emigrate to Sydney, Australia.

My father had left for Australia months before to prepare a home for them to live in, and when he was settled he sent for them to join him. She made the trip on a cruise ship together with my brothers and sisters, all at a young age at the time.

My mother tells us she was seasick for most of the three-month trip.

Rita, the mother of seven children with her youngest son artist John V. Borg

While living in a new land with no knowledge of English, she had her sixth child, a daughter.

Times were hard for my mother who was raising six children practically on her own, as my father had to work to earn a living but somehow she managed quite well.

 In 1969, my parents came back to Malta to try to make a living here, and two years later in September 1971, I was born, eleven years after my youngest sister. I didn't have the opportunity to get to know much about my birthplace as nine months later we went back to Australia. For the first ten years of my life, it was the only country I knew.

In 1980, I was the only child left at home as all my brothers and sisters had married and started their own families.

My parents and I came back to Malta to live, this time for good, and we finally settled down. Over the years, two of my sisters, too,  moved to Malta.

My mother, now 87-years-old, has been living on her own for the past 23 years, ever since my father passed away. She is still very energetic and enjoys her freedom, while my sisters and I frequently visit her and tend to all her needs. Lately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she has had to live in isolation at home, which she doesn't like very much but we have to limit our visits for her own wellbeing.

Lawrence Coppini - Artist and retired civil servant

On the occasion of Mothers' Day, it gives me great pleasure to write a few lines in my name and on behalf of my brothers and sisters Paul, Mary, Tony, George and Anna, in gratitude to our beloved mother Rose Coppini née Vella.

We are indeed proud to have been blessed with a  special Mama',  whose memory we continue to treasure constantly, both of her lifetime as well as after her death in 1997.

We remember her unconditional and generous love towards our splendid father Joseph and the tenderness in the way they impressed in our  minds, the values that have since guided us throughout our lives.

Lawrence Coppini watching his mother Rose play the piano 

Our mother's positive outlook was an inspiration not only to us and our families, but also to the persons who had the good fortune of sharing her friendship and company.

Whatever the circumstances she endeavoured and enjoyed putting people in a good mood.  Her encouragement was uttered with the kind of love that softened the hearts of those present.  When we visited her in her old age, she always greeted us with the words 'I am so happy to see you' even when, at times, we skipped our regular visits.

We love to remember her playing the piano which she did in such an expressive manner.  Her music book was her heart and she imparted a joyful sound which invariably lit the faces of those gathered around her.

Our mother dedicated her life to us all and was always ready to help people who she knew, needed encouragement and help.

She was indeed a mother who, like most mothers, loved her noble mission and left no stone unturned to execute it lovingly and selflessly.

We are indebted to her for what we are today and proud to continue to emulate her genuine and affectionate directions which we love to impart to our own children.

Patrick Dalli - Artist and businessman

I am the youngest of nine children and was born when my mother was forty years old.  My father died when I was ten.  My siblings were already  teenagers,  adolescents and  adults, three of them already married, so I was the one who was closest to my mother - physically and emotionally - when she was widowed.  I  was also the one who remained living with my mother longest; until I got married at 30. We had a very warm and loving relationship, so much so that my brothers and sisters used to tease her and say that her face lights up when she sees me.

Mrs Dalli with Patrick, the youngest of her nine children

My mother was a woman who dedicated her entire life to her family.  Bringing up nine children is no mean feat.  Although she was a teacher before she got married, she stopped working when she married my father, as happened in most cases those days.  When my father died -  they were both 50 - it was as if the world had ended for my mother.  But eventually she managed to gather  enough strength to start living again - after many years of mourning - not least for her children's sake.  I remember her taking us on holidays abroad in summer.  I have so many beautiful memories of us together, until she died at the age of 93.

Ray Piscopo - Artist

A mum is a mum, always a mum. I was the second oldest of eight children, all male.  She always wished to have a daughter but I guess that by the time the twin brothers were born, it was a signal that eight had been enough. 

I did my utmost to help her out by taking care of my younger siblings while she went about the washing and cooking.  She always did her best to see that we were never wanting, in spite of all the difficulties.

Ray stands proudly next to his mother after graduating

I believe that the relationship between my mum and myself was beyond the verbal or obvious.  She wanted to pass on to us the moral fibre she inherited from her dad, the latter a police sergeant and a devout Catholic, and she did it admirably well.

 She always felt reassured whenever she confided in me and the bond was ever so strong.  There was no need for many words between me and mum, I guess we understood each other well till the day she passed away in painful circumstances. 

God has rewarded her for her courage and endurance, as I know she is resting in peace.

Prof. Victor Grech - Consultant paediatrician

My mother Dorothy is a clever woman who has always encouraged her children to do more: "plus et en vous" could have been her motto as well as Gordonstoun's, Prince Philip's alma mater.

Mum is occasionally taken aback by the various things I take on, including my work related to art and the way I use art, both painting and photography, for fund raising. But after 55 years, she's used to me and invariably shrugs and remarks "well that's Vic".

We three children, brother Adrian and sister Dorianne, and our aggregated 8 children miss mum and dad due to social distancing and COVID-19 - c'est la vie.

Paediatric Consultant Victor Grech with his mother Dorothy

There are some interesting and unique similarities between my mother and myself. Mum is a fast and efficient worker, and never leaves for tomorrow that which can be done today. Indeed, mum believes that preparation is key, and whether it is nature or nurture, these are traits we share. Interestingly, mum and I both speak very fast and we understand each other very quickly - this is something that I must have inherited from her. Our parents have always been there for us, and they continually instill a sense of family and duty, for which we are all grateful.







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