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Mary’s mother passes away

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 17.09.2014:

Bethlehem

17/9/2014

Mary’s mother, Milia Salman, passed away quietly last Friday at the blessed age of 93 years. The family name Salman is related to Solomon (or Suleiman in Arabic), as the name of her deceased husband Morcos is related to St Mark, the apostle.

At the final stages of her life the family from Bethlehem and Paris could only have limited contact with her due to many strokes. However, I could only notice how much love was brought into those moments.

In practice Mary had always lived with her. Together with her sister Janet she took care. Our family and Janet and Mary’s mother formed a joint economic household, with both our houses only 200 meters away from each other. Mary’s two other sisters and brother often came from abroad to support the care.

Imm Hannah, the mother of Hannah, as she was usually called, was placed on the bier at home with the women, all in black, around her. The women cried together at the moment of her last journey from home. Mary said that she still didn’t cry enough, it has to come out in time. She still sees her mother in the home around her.

After the ceremony in the church, the men brought the body of Imm Hannah to the Catholic graveyard near the Milk Grotto Church where she was laid to rest.

When Jara went to school for her physics exam, all her classmates paid consolences and hugged her. She then had to cry, but after that she felt more relieved and ready for the exam. Tamer felt as if there was much pressure on his head. Imm Hannah was their last grandparent.

During the three mourning days, the men and women of the families sat separate in a hall rented for the purpose. More than 1000 people passed by. Nobody dies here anonymously. The closest family shook hands all the time, standing up and sitting down. Bitter coffee was served.

Among the visitors were dear friends, mayors, members of the hamuleh (extended family or clan), Moslems as well as Christians, colleagues at work, former class mates, members of the local and national government or administration, even Christians who do not have any special relation to the family but who just want to preserve the bonds among the local Christian community.

Meeting people is therapeutical. As Imm Hannah passed away at a respectable age and peacefully, it didn’t take long before the talks became more lively. Among the men local, national and international politics was the hot item, especially Da’aash (or ISIS).

In a way, the community came back to its feet. At the end, on the third day, kiddreh was served for the family, a meal of spiced rice and lamb meat, a custom during such an occasion.

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