‘Love will find a way’ – Aurelio and Maria’s story

By Jeanette Bonnici Edited by Jake Watson

Maria and Aurelio were innocent children when they first met. “He was different, I knew from the moment that I saw him,” Maria explained, giggling. “He was wearing a dress!” Aurelio had just moved with his family to Malta from Tripoli and he had nothing but the traditional clothing that he was so used to.

Maria and Aurelio

Maria and Aurelio

Living in the same street, Aurelio always walked past Maria’s front yard where she would be playing with her siblings. Maria would tease him and so Aurelio used to tease her back, purposely kicking his soccer ball aggressively her way. “I had gained a reputation as the new troublemaker on the block,” Aurelio explained, still cheekily proud.

“One day I was walking by their house and Maria’s mother was waiting for me behind the door with a stick! She knew I was causing trouble with her children and she was waiting to come out and scare me,” Aurelio reminisces as he laughs with Maria. As time goes by the cheeky pranks and teasing turned into playful acts of affection and it wasn’t long before the two knew that they wanted to share their lives together.

The years ahead proved to be more difficult as Aurelio’s mother had other plans for him. She wanted him to marry a woman from back home in Tripoli but Aurelio had already chosen the woman that he wanted to be with. “My mother wouldn’t leave me alone about it but I had no interest in this other woman. I knew who she was and I knew that she wasn’t a good girl like Maria was,” Aurelio explained.
Much to his mother’s dismay, Aurelio chose to follow his heart and asked for Maria’s hand in marriage, but after only a few short months, Maria felt that she needed to call the engagement off. Aurelio and his mother would fight about their engagement and she tried desperately to convince him that she wasn’t the right choice. “I didn’t want to be the reason that he didn’t speak to his mother anymore. I felt terrible that I had come between them and blamed myself,” Maria told.

Over the next few months, even though her heart was breaking, Maria kept her distance from Aurelio. She went about her daily life trying to avoid contact from him. She missed him so much and wished so desperately that his mother would approve. But Aurelio was not going to give up. He pleaded desperately with his mother in the hopes that she would approve of their union. Aurelio knew deep down that she would never change her mind and he was eventually going to have to make a choice between the love of his life, and his mother.

Occasionally, on her way home from work, Maria would find Aurelio parked down the road ahead of her, desperate to talk. He would plead with her to get back together and play romantic songs from his car for her. He would buy her flowers and did everything he could to reassure her that she was the woman he wanted to be with. “He was putting in so much effort to prove to me that he wanted to get back together, even crying to me on one occasion,” Maria recalls. “But I was afraid to start things up again. My heart was still hurting from the separation and I wasn’t sure if this would be a waste of my time.”

But love prevailed and the two were engaged for the second time, at the ages of seventeen and twenty. Aurelio always wanted the best for Maria and worked hard to provide a home for the two before they were married. “It was important to me to have a place set up and ready for Maria, as I promised her that I would take care of her for the rest of her life. I wanted to show her that I would take care of her even before we got married,” Aurelio expressed.

Maria, Jeanette and Aurelio

Maria, Jeanette and Aurelio

The pair were married in November 1953 and moved into their new home. They loved their home and enjoyed entertaining every Sunday. Maria would cook and they would have friends over. “Our friends were very dear to us as we had lost almost all contact with Aurelio’s family after the wedding,” Maria explains. “It saddened me, but it was Aurelio’s choice and we will always stand by each other”

After a year of marriage Maria gave birth to their first child, John, and three years later their daughter, Rita. They lived happily in Malta for the next few years before deciding that they would move to Australia. Some of Maria’s family had already moved and boasted about how much they loved it, so they made the decision that they too would leave. “I did not hesitate to leave. Maria and the kids were my family now and as long as they were with me that was all I needed. It had been years and I still did not speak to my mother or my brothers,” Aurelio said, shrugging his shoulders. “So we just left.”

After a one-month journey by boat, the family arrived in Australia where, Maria says, “Our lives changed for the better”. Aurelio got a job in a factory where he was being paid a great wage and the children went to the local primary school down the road. Maria was able to stay home and take care of the children because of Aurelio’s well-paying job.

Time passed and the children grew up and moved out after finding love of their own. Aurelio was able to retire comfortably in his early fifties and the two were able to spend every day together. They would go for road trips to the coast, go out for lunches and dinner and sometimes even go to the casino where they would try their luck at winning the jackpot. Luck was on their side on day when Maria did win the jackpot prize. “It was wonderful!” Aurelio shared. “We were able to pay off the mortgage of our children’s homes, as well as spoil ourselves a little with a new car and boat.”
Maria and Aurelio now live in small unit in Altona Meadows where they still enjoy each other’s company, meeting with friends at the local seniors club and attending family outings with their grandchildren.

“I always have and will always love Maria,” Aurelio expressed, reaching out to hold her hand. “She will always be the light in my life and there hasn’t been a single day where I regret the choices I made all those years ago.”

“All these years he kept his promise! He took care of me and loved me his entire life,” Maria says smiling. “He is my prince charming.”