My husband’s grandmother was a woman who, for me, embraced the generous spirit that Islam teaches us all. Her story is inspirational and I wish to share some of it during this beautiful month of Ramadan.
The Matriarch of the Family
Known as Mama Attia to us all, she was the matriarch of my husband’s family. She had a difficult life as her husband passed away at a very young age, leaving her with four children to raise. She counted with the support of her sister-in-law who lived next door, and with my husband’s mother – her eldest daughter – who looked after her three younger brothers.
Mama Attia worked as a school nurse in order to take care of her young family. Her days were not really peaceful, as she had to fight constantly against some injustices taken place against her children’s inheritance.
Not only did she raise her own children, but she also took care of two other children when their parents couldn’t, due to some difficult circumstances. She really was a force to be reckoned with when it came to her caring and generous nature towards others.
Loving to Care
I remember many instances of her love and care for her family, and even for those she didn’t even know.
A story that my husband told me always stood out in my head. One day, Mama Attia was on her way home when she saw a little boy looking through the window of a bakery, he was looking at the basbousa. Mama Attia knew he couldn’t afford it, so she asked him what he wanted and she took him into the shop and bought him some.
Imagine, the poor child probably never even knew what a basbousa tasted like before, and he probably remembered that moment for the rest of his life!
When I was pregnant with my daughter, Mama Attia was not very well. One day we went to visit her and she insisted on making me eggs. Her eggs were the very best. My husband told her to rest because she wasn’t well but she refused. She told him “Nichola loves these eggs and I will make them for her.” She always wanted to see us all happy and she would do whatever she could to make sure we were.
When I was sick with cancer, she called my husband every single day to make sure he had everything I needed, and she would tell him where to buy things I needed, and even told him the best doctor to take me to.
Every single day she would call him to make dua for me and my health. I can never repay her for everything she did for me, especially at that time.
Leaving a Legacy Behind
She left a big hole in the family when she passed away. We remember her with love, laughter and fondness. When we share memories about her, they move us each time, even if we have heard these stories many times. There is so much to relate about what she used to do for people that they would fill a book!
Mama Attia cared for everyone, her family, her friends, and people who she didn’t even know. She was always concerned with people’s well-being. When I think of the generous spirit of Ramadan that we should all embody, I remember Mama Attia more than ever. She was big-hearted all year around, and her actions always inspire me to be better.
Ramadan is a time when we Muslims are more compassionate. I wanted to share these beautiful reflections about Mama Attia, in the hope that she will inspire us all to love and take care of each other more. Not just in Ramadan but throughout the whole year.
Allah says in the Quran:
“Worship Allah [alone] and associate none with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, near and distant neighbors, close friends, [needy] travelers, and those [bondspeople] in your possession. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful—“ (Quran 4:36)
May Allah forgive her and grant her the highest rank in Paradise. May we long remember her and may her beautiful legacy long continue.