ΤΙΜΕ ΙΝ ΑΤΗΕΝS            





My mother's eyes


Kalle Amanatides, Mother's Day, May 2006

My mother has almond eyes. Like deep chocolate pools, their depth is accentuated against her fair, porcelain skin and their slanting, oval shape. Her eyes are framed by arching, quizzical eyebrows and set above high cheeks, which curve down to quietly smiling lips. Her face is one of emotion and movement, with looks and expressions that reflect each mood. 

In my mother's eyes, is where you will find her true thoughts and feelings. They sparkle and dance, they gleam and glow like a prism reflecting light. They show excitement, passion and warmth. Sometimes they glaze over deep in thought, or cloud over in a haze. But always, my mother's eyes are filled with life. They tell the stories of what they've seen. They watch and take in everything that happens around them - and they listen. But more than that, my mother's eyes see what some don't. For she has an insight and imagination that allows her to see what others can't or refuse to see. Her eyes see hope and triumph in a way that some could only wish to see. At times she also sees that which others fear, with such vividness that the vision brings her to close her eyes and turn the image away. My mother's eyes share the stories of what they've seen. As a writer she translates the experiences of what her eyes have witnessed into stories for others to read. This, however, is a story for my mother, Dina Amanatidou. A story about what I have seen and learned through her eyes…

My mother's nurturing eyes these are the eyes that I've come to know best. Eyes, that watched over me with excitement and sometimes nervousness as I've grown from an infant into a child. With every step I took, each word I spoke and every learning experience I embarked upon, my mother was by my side, watching, caring, re-assuring and encouraging. Her eyes were often the last thing I would see each night as she'd tuck me in to bed, and the first thing I'd gaze upon when I awoke. Those eyes would greet me when I came home from school, would check on me as I completed my homework, and would chat with me over the dinner table. Day in day out, my mother's eyes would watch over my brother and me, as we'd go about our lives. They would care for us, guide us, scold us and forgive us. I could see that each moment was cherished by her and at every opportunity she would strive to make our lives special and happy.

My mother's caring eyes through my mother's eyes I have seen and learned about compassion. Always giving selflessly of herself my mother would show kindness and compassion to others. Putting her needs aside, she would place herself in the eyes of the other person and give her all to help in any situation. She would work tirelessly to meet the needs of each member of our family. Maintaining our home, preparing our feasts, keeping us sparkling clean, nurturing our hearts and our souls. She would juggle her home and family commitments with her work as a teacher and a writer, using the quiet moments late at night to attend to her own needs and interests. As I would drift off to sleep, my mother would begin her nocturnal activities at her desk…planning, writing and dreaming. We call mum squeak, because she reminds us of a cute, fluffy squirrel with big sparkling eyes. And like the squirrel collecting and storing nuts, my mother collects her thoughts and captures her experiences as she translates what she has seen into stories. Her free time was also shared supporting numerous groups, from school groups and community migrant women's 
associations, to literary organisations. The phrase 'I can't help you' is not one I've ever heard from my mother. She gives of her self always, her caring and compassion motivating her to give to others all that she can.

My mother's passionate eyes passion is both a gift and a curse. For passion can bring the greatest joy and the most intense pain. Looking into my mother's eyes you see her passionate soul. Those passions are the people she cares for, experiences she cherishes and dreams she strives for. To her passions, she commits her life. She loves in a way that goes beyond caring and admiration of another. Her love is a generous, unconditional love that wants only the very, very best for those she loves. To my father, she has shown the devotion of a doting wife. Standing by him and his goals, his interests and his needs. Encouraging him in the completion of his university studies, supporting him in the pursuit of his profession, sharing with him their passion for literature. This passion itself is what brought my parents together. As young Greek migrants in their 20s, my mother and father both contributed to the local Greek newspaper. Unknown to each other at the time, they would read and be inspired by each other's writings. By the time they met they had already fallen in love with each other's minds. Today that passion still lives strongly within them both. As my mother writes her aphorisms, poetry and stories, my father provides his feedback and translates from Greek to English. And together they would combine their talent to present a literary radio program a combination of recitals, music and analysis. My parents are a team, whose eyes look forward in the same direction and then come together to share their experiences.

To my brother and me, our mother has been the foundation upon which our lives have been built. She is the person who has evolved from being our carer and teacher, our disciplinarian and our mentor, to our cherished friend. My mother is the one who has shown me love each and every day, whose words of wisdom have served to guide my way. She is the one who has held me tight and given me the freedom to grow. Whilst sometimes the challenges faced in our growing up have caused her pain, through quarrels and our testing of boundaries, she has always forgiven, supported, and opened her arms and heart, and given her love unconditionally.

My mother's nostalgic eyes there are many aspects of my mother's life that I myself have not seen with my own eyes. I have yet to visit her place of birth, the small village of “milk and honey” in southern Greece. Nor did I ever meet her mother and father, my grandparents. However, through her eyes and the pictures she's painted for me, I've seen her village. I've imagined her home, simple but full of warmth. I've visualised the shop and outdoor cinema her parents used to manage and seen her running around as a child, inquisitive and giggling. I've looked into the eyes of her parents. My mother has spoken of her parents so lovingly…having lost them both suddenly at a young age, she feels the great loss of being denied the simple joys of sharing her life with them. They never saw her wed, nor shared the celebration of the birth of her children. I know that much of the loss my mother feels at leaving her homeland is that she is also far away from the place where her parents now rest. But I also know she feels that they have been with her for her remarkable journey. In her moments of joy and grief, they have been there to witness and to support. On one occasion, my mother felt the spirit of her parents in two little birds, who flew into the auditorium where she was presenting the launch of her most recently published book. As she recited her poems, the little birds flitted in, watched quietly and then flew out…at this moment, one could see my mother's dewy eyes. For her, those two little birds represented the souls of her parents.
I'm named after my grandmother, Kalleroy, whose eyes my mother has told me I've inherited. To me, this is a great gift. For it means that the joy I feel when I look into my mothers eyes is felt when she looks into mine… not just as her daughter, but as a reminder of her own mother.

My mother's laughing eyes - There are many different moments that capture my mother's happiness and glee. Our cheeky 'squeak', sparkles mischievously, like a little girl when she has planned a surprise, or is presenting a special treat. Those same cheeky eyes take on a different expression, when she's caught in a moment of sneaky indulgence of her favourite snacks or after a shopping expedition for trinkets and personal treasures. Her eyes shine with mirth at funny stories or jokes she shares with her family and friends. But her eyes laugh most at those moments of intense happiness, especially those in which we share our good news, or when she completes a story or poem she's been working on. Most of all, her eyes laugh and dance when we tell her we love her. This is when they sparkle with life. Seeing my mother's laughing eyes, bring tears to my own. There is no such joy as that felt from knowing that those who you cherish are happy and feel your love .
There are so many emotions that I've seen in my mother's eyes - emotions that have taught me the principles along which to live my life. Her stern eyes would tell me when I have shown disrespect or irresponsibility… her stubborn eyes would test my willingness to compromise and to apologise… her honest eyes would mean that I could not meet her gaze if ever I was to tell her a fib…her proud eyes would teach me to not compromise my beliefs.

In my mother's eyes I have seen such purity, that she has taught me to look upon the world in a similar way. As a child I saw her outlook as sometimes pessimistic, or fatalistic, but as an adult, I've learned that any fears or reservations she's expressed had stemmed from past hurts or disappointments. Her spirit is a positive one, that always looks for the good. Her innocent eyes let me see the world how I trust it will be … her optimistic eyes for what I hope I will find. Her thoughtful eyes teach me to think about other people's wants… her inquisitive eyes inspire me to question and strive to be my best.

My mummy's eyes are beautiful. They glimmer and shine, like the most precious jewels on this earth. They caress with the softness and warmth of rich brown velvet. They show a depth of thought that inspires learning. They reflect the selflessness and forgiveness of a mother's unconditional love. They hold passion and hope. 
With each and every day, even when I am away from her side, I see my mother's eyes, just as she continues to see her own mother's. For those eyes welcome me with the promise of love, kindness and hope. My legacy to my mother is to live a life that honours what I have seen and learned from her… to show love, respect, compassion and integrity. 
Where I can share these experiences of what I have seen and learned. As I tell my stories, I can only wish for others they too be watched and guided by eyes like those of my mother. And I can only hope that I give to those I love, that which she has given me.

Kalle Amanatides, Mother's Day, May 2006

Reproduced with the permission of the Editor
Antipodes Journal of the Greek-Australian Cultural League of Melbourne 



Kalle Amanatides,
Mother's Day, May 2006



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