The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Someone up there loves me

Sunday, 1 November 2020, 11:00 Last update: about 3 years ago

Philip Farrugia Randon

Xi Hadd Hemm Fuq Ihobbni.
Grajja vera ta' 24 sena glieda  kontra l-lancer. 
Author: Peter Calamatta
Publisher: Hospice Malta, pages 218

 

Philip Farrugia Randon

 

Peter Calamatta has just published another book. The topic is completely different from his other books, and this time it is written in Maltese. There are two reasons why I am writing an English review of a book written in Maltese: I would like the message in this book to reach those who cannot read Maltese, and also want to entice the interest of those who, though being able to read Maltese,  often prefer to read a book in English

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This is a book of courage, determination and faith. For twenty four whole years Peter has lived in the company of cancer. He had just accompanied his brother for a routine visit to a heart specialist, when the professor, an old friend, noticed a wart on Peter's neck, which Peter knew about but thought nothing of it. Without any waste of time, the professor followed with a biopsy and the result was quick: Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was referred to a specialist in London, who confirmed the illness and informed Peter that he had only six months to live. The world collapsed and the end was nigh. Then the doctor suggested resorting to a wonder drug which was still experimental, Rituximab. Peter lost no time in signing all necessary waivers and documents to be able to take it. He stubbornly informed his dear wife Simone, "I am not going to die." And he kept his word!

Throughout these last 24 years, the illness subsided and re-appeared four times and every time he was close to death but he marched on. Just to clarify one important detail: Peter lived the fullest of life in between those tragic moments. He kept up his profession with verve, has written three excellent books on plants and gardening, recorded six CDs with him singing oldies, with all the proceeds donated to the Millennium Chapel. May I add that proceeds of this present book are directed to another deserving cause: Hospice Malta.

Peter leads us through all this adventure and misadventure calmly without over-emphasis, or tragic tones. This is a book for those who need the comforting words of one who has passed and is passing through all this. His thoughts and sentiments are bound to be like fresh water in a scorching desert. And those who are lucky not to have experienced it, will also certainly benefit from the words of courage and positivity which abound in the text. "Fear of death is a waste of time," he says " Let us enjoy life and engage ourselves to help the needy."

But medicine alone would not have managed. Having read this book, I would say that whilst medicine has certainly helped to prolong his existence, he has managed to ennoble it to a pleasure of living. Peter speaks of how he has been blessed with, and enhanced, an urge to live on. He spares no effort to underline his faith in the love of someone up there who loves him. For some, faith seems to be relegated to a remnant of the past, akin to superstition. Well it is not! As I love to repeat, faith introduces us to another dimension where we can revel in the absence of earthly limitations, where infinity becomes a reality, and the unexplained, gratuitous gifts obtained through what may be called miracles, are not only believed in but attract sincere gratitude; where someone up there who loves us unlimitedly and unashamedly acquires the homely name of Father or the glorious name of God.

Peter's gifts include a deep positivity in his attitudes and behaviour. He narrates his experiences in the dark moments of his life without resorting to depths of melancholy. He never seeks pity but urges encouragement in others. He never seeks a tear but on the contrary engenders a smile in others. He avoids ruminating on the dark side of things but always looks at the bright side of the picture and the certainty that the sun will rise again in the morning.

This book is a guidance for those who seek it; it is a living testimony not a text book case. It has been proved and is still working. Peter is now almost 80 years young, blessed with a dear wife, Simone, two children, Carlos and Daniela, and four grandchildren. As he himself has said very often, he owes this to "somebody up there who loves him".  Thank you Peter for sharing that love.


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