Dad's family.

Trip Start Sep 15, 2007
Trip End Oct 17, 2007

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

I called my mum this morning as I knew her and dad would be excited about me meeting with my father's cousins today. Just like my brothers and I are with our cousins back home my father was quite close to his cousins in Malta. Also they were the families that I had spent most of my time with when I was last in Malta 30 years ago. It was going to be a surreal experience seeing them all today, I could tell on the phone that they were excited as I was about it. It was another opportunity for me to be in familiar surroundings, with family and loved ones and my father's family are notoriously a fun loving bunch, this was going to be an experience.

My day started with Alfred picking me up, he is my father's youngest cousin just 10 years older than me hence was 16 when I last saw him (he is 46 now). Alfred is one of the few people that I remember from all those years ago and I have been told that I attached myself to him when I was last here. My faded memories were of him being a very affable person and possessing a very warm personality. Well nothing had changed. As soon as we met our conversation started with memories of the last time I was here and then we attempted to fill in the gaps to the present day. Alfred is quite an intelligent guy at one stage being the financial controller at one of the major European banks, he now works as a project manager for a construction company. He asked where I wanted to go and really the only major place I had not seen on the main island of Malta was the fishing port of Marsaxlokk, and as today was a Sunday the weekly fish markets would be open this morning so the timing was perfect. I really did not mind either way as today was all about me getting reacquainted with my dad's side of the family and not so much the sights of Malta. As I have said before I take great joy from sharing moments with families and friends, it is such an uplifting experience for me, and today was certainly going to be special.

After Marsaxlokk Alfred drove me around the country side to some of the remotest parts of Malta all the while enabling us to talk about Malta, Australia and life in general. It was really great to get some one on one time with him and someone who knew so much about Malta and its current place in the world. He showed me some of the projects he had worked on as a project manager and also a few great highland areas where the Maltese country side sprawled out before us. After a few hours we drove to St Paul's Bay to his sister Lillian's house. Well the joy that filled everyone's faces when I entered the house was amazing and I just savoured the hugs, kisses and well wishes. These people had not seen me in the flesh for 30 years, it was a great moment.

Well the rest of the afternoon went by with everyone telling stories of the past including some incredibly interesting aspects of life in Malta when they (and my parents) were young. They talked about dad when he was at school, when his family had decided to move to Australia and I also filled them in with how everyone has been in Australia. They off course gets bits and pieces from us through the years but we went through each of my brothers and cousins on my dad's side and talked about what they had been doing and what they were doing now. Perhaps my favourite part of the day was when Lillian went to her room and returned with a big box of old photos, and I mean old. It was incredible. Photos dating back to my great grandparents. Pictures of my grand parent's wedding, mum and dad when they were young, the lot. There was also a photo of me when I was just 3 weeks old! I had never seen it before (mum often writes dates and comments on the back of photos so that is how we knew). There were old pictures of my cousins Joanne, Ricky, Margaret and Louise, as well as Helen and Denise and of course my brothers. There was one of Jeff, Jamie and I with dad taken in 1975. I loved it.

Around 4pm we went to a café in St Paul's Bay to meet up with a few more relatives that were unable to make lunch. Oh I forgot to mention that I was getting hassled for most of the day about my love life and any girls I had met on my trip so far. I naturally told them that nothing like that was going on at all. Mum would have been proud. Lillian and Joe drove me home at the end of what was a fantastic day. I have wondered what it is that makes me feel so drawn to Malta and so connected with the place, and I guess that feeling in its most tangible form is the family I have here. Before leaving Australia I made a point of saying to everyone that I want to stay in a hotel on my own and do my own thing on this trip and that is largely what I have done, however the days I have spent with family are the ones that are going to remain in my memory for a long time after I return home. It has made this trip something special and to my family in Malta I will be eternally grateful. Thank you.

Something amazing just happened whilst writing today's journal entry. I heard these loud noises outside and when I went out to my balcony to see what was going on the most beautiful fireworks display was happening in Valletta. I had perhaps the best view in the world from my 5th story balcony across the water. Took a few photos, hope they turn out!

Today marks the middle of my Maltese adventure. I am so happy I have written my journey down in such detail as even now I am gaining pleasure out of reading entries I had written earlier in the holiday. I mean it has been 15 days but I have just done so much and experienced so many amazing things so far it could fill a year with stories and special moments. Sharing it with people back home via the journal has been a great aspect of the experience. I hope you are enjoying it too.
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