For those dear friends of mine who may not be knowing, I am a true-blue multi-cultural Australian!
My father was born in Wells, Austria - and my mother was born an Abdo - of the Syrian family who came to Australia from the region of Mount Lebanon as Maronite Catholics in search of a better life in a country where their beliefs were in the majority...
On Sunday, I got to stand where so many of my family would have stood 95 years ago, on a very sad day when their beloved son, Joseph was laid to rest in the Catholic section of the Queanbeyan cemetery. He was a young man, of only 27. His death was an innocent, tragic accident. From all accounts he was a decent and hard working man, and though I know his soul is in heaven - and not beneath the ground on which I stood, I felt a great desire to honour him, and all of the Abdoo family by standing here in prayer and gratitude that they came to this country - and therefore gave me everything I have today - my freedom, my coffee coloured skin, my love of the Middle East, and of our Lord, God.
The inscription on Youssef's grave is in Arabic, and translated it reads;
I stood by the tomb of Abdo Youssef's son;
May the soldiers of Heaven water him with showers of mercy.
The historian, in praise, revealed his virtues.
Youssef died in the fullness of Grace.
Youssef Taneus Abdo
From Mazrat Abisaad.
Born on 4th August in 1888 A.C.
Our God is a mysterious God in so many ways, and I think a God of numbers... My son Campbell's birthday is the 4th of August - he was born 112 years after my uncle Joseph.
So often you see numbers and dates repeated in family histories - I don't know what it all means, but I think perhaps it serves to remind us that we all have our turn here, on this Earth. That we all must make the most of our short time, and leave it better than we found it.
And remember we are all bound together by one thing, not the time we walk this Earth - but the God who made it, and put us here.
I have learned so much about who I am, from who they were. I would hope that everyone might do the same.