My cousin Alice e mailed me. Alice is older than I am by 6 years. She was also born in Malta. She and her parents and our Aunt Helen had immigrated on the day I was born. My parents were supposed to be on the boat with them, but Ma was busy having me.
We immigrated to America 3 months later.
Alice told me that the favorite gifts she had received as a child came from Ma. They were dish sets. One Ma had given to Alice in Malta. It was a pink glass tea set. Alice still has pieces of that set. She still loves pink depression dishes.
The other was a tin dinner set Ma had given Alice soon after we came to America. It was a Blue Willow set. Alice so loved the story about the pattern that it is still her favorite.
Alice also said that, out of all the Aunts on her Mom's side, Ma was the only one that ever gave her something she loved. And Ma did it twice.
I asked Alice to tell me the story of the Blue Willow pattern. Alice wrote back:
The Willow pattern has a beautiful and tragic love story. You know the love birds in the pattern, well, they were lovers that were reincarnated as birds.
She was a princess and he was not worthy of her, according to her royal family. So they ended their life as humans so that they could be together as love birds.
That story, or something like it, was on the box the dinner set was in. Oddly enough, very few people know that story. I never forgot it.
Ma never talked about her years in Malta. It was nice picturing her as a doting Auntie.