A migrant woman reminiscing on her past
There are no names in this story, because, even though this is a specific case, it is also a shared history of many nameless migrant women who put up with very difficult circumstances in their married lives…
She spoke simply about her adult life and there was no sense of regret, nor was there any anger in her tone. Now she is a widow and has three caring children and their spouses, as well as seven grandchildren who love her dearly.
She recounts her tale to me:
‘All I wanted prior to marriage was to raise a good Christian family one day.
When I arrived in Australia, I lived with my brother and his wife. They were good to me and we lived peacefully.
After an introduction from a family friend, and a fair bit of coaxing, I finally agreed to marry the man who had been introduced to me. His rough voice was the initial reason why I felt hesitant about agreeing to marry him, even though his work ethic did recommend him to my family – he would be a good provider.
We married and after the birth of our first child, at the forty days period, we moved into our new shop in inner Sydney. There, we worked seven days a week for the next twenty five years. I would open up the shop every morning after taking our three children to school, and when they returned from school, they would be upstairs, while I attended to the customers down stairs.
There was no reprieve from the seven-day work load. If only he would have given me time off on Sunday morning to take the children to church I would have kissed his feet. He saw no point and did not want to hear my point of view. Work was all that mattered to him in order to pay off every new mortgage he acquired. The only thing I did then was to cry silently when he was not around. But I never said anything negative about him to our children, he was their father, and work was, after all, the only thing he ever knew, as he had been orphaned at a young age and had to provide for his large family in Greece.
Did the children do well at school? How could they, as I could not oversee their studies and homework. Upstairs they may have been watching television, when I was busy in the shop. They did however, become, industrious and responsible adults.
He developed cancer after many years and went through tremendous suffering. I nursed him till the very end. Before he died he begged my forgiveness, saying he had burdened me.
It was not the burden of the cancer and my attending to him in this difficult phase of our life that he referred to, but he had realised that he had been a tyrant. This moment of true repentance has remained with me forever. It has given solace to my soul as it was his greatest gift to me, because at the very end of his life, he asked for forgiveness, and so his life had not been in vain. I only think with great pity for him now, but with no sense of bitterness at what had been our life.’
Source: Lychnos August / September 2017