F is for Family
Ahh, family! What can I say? I honestly could. not. live. without my amazing, crazy, emotional, family. They are the best people ever, in my opinion and we are all so close, it's amazing. My mum comes from quite a big family - she is one of seven kids, so there are plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins around. Whenever I think of family, it's not just mum, dad, my sister and brother who spring to mind, it's all of them! The aunties, the uncles, the whole 21 first cousins and their kids and everything! We have the best get togethers ever. I love being around the crazy Cioffi's. It's always hilarious hearing what my aunties come up with to say and the atmosphere is amazing!
Three of my cousin's kids with my crazy little bro at our most recent family thing
I suppose I don't really identify with dad's family much, since it is so small with just his mum, his brother and his half-brother left now. I used to love my Grandad so much! He was like my best friend and I miss him every single day, but Im not really that close to dad's other family. My last name might be Reilly, but even dad agrees that I am a Cioffi at heart! Loud, boisterous, opinionated, stubborn, emotional, straight forward, but above all LOVING! These are the qualities I associate with the Cioffi family. These are the qualities which I am proud to say that I inherited from my mother, from Nanu and from Nanna.
I never got to meet Nanu and Nanna. Cancer took them both away too early. Nanna died when my mum was 14. Out of all 21 of us grandkids, she only got to meet one. Nanu died when mum was in her mid-twenties. Mum is the only one of his children who didn't have at least one child when he died. Mum still gets emotional about that - she wishes her parents got to see us so much! I tell her it's okay though - we have heard all the stories and we have them in our hearts.
I'm getting a little emotional writing this... I didn't think I would, but I am absolutely getting overwrought with memories, with regrets and with love. That is the Cioffi in me coming to life. That's Nanu, right there inside of me. Now I am smiling. I would have loved to meet that great, crazy man so much! In my eyes, Nanu is an idol. He is this big, burly Maltese man with a thick accent and a crazy moustache. Yes, I know I can tell all this from the photos, but you don't understand. I have heard enough of the stories that in my mind's eye that he comes to life! I can see him now, tinkering in the shed. Always fixing things, he was! I can see him cooking dinner. I can hear him swearing at my mum as he tries to get his words out in English in the right order. Fuck was a filler to Nanu. So easy to say when he couldn't think of the right words in English! I have never heard a bad word about my mum's parents. They lived a tough life, they moved to Australia and they made something for themselves! They were wonderful people by every person's account.
A fun fact about my mum and her siblings - they were born in four different countries! While my Nanu was Maltese, he first met my Nanna in England. That is where they married and had the first three of their seven children. They then moved to Malta for a while, and had their fourth child there. When they came back to the UK they had another child in England, and them my mother was born in Wales. My mum was two years old when they migrated to Australia and Nanna was pregnant with my uncle at the time. He is the only Australian-born of my mum's family, but now my mum is the only one who still isn't an Australian Citizen. Thank you so much for that mum - you have left the door wide open for me to one day move to the UK!
Wow, this post is getting so long, and I still haven't spilled anything about my immediate family! My mum and dad met when dad was 21 and mum was 23. They were together for seven years before they married, and I am their oldest child born two years after their wedding. I'm not too sure what to say about my mum and dad other than that they are great people. Everyone thinks their parents are great people though, right? My mum is my absolute number one role model. I love her so much! She has been through so much in her life, came out the other end and has gotten so far in life. She is such a loving, caring, nurturing woman. She just gives and gives and gives and never expects anything in return. She has always put her family first and I couldn't have asked for a better mother. I don't know how she does all that she does, but I love her for it and appreciate it all so much!
My beautiful mum on her honeymoon!
Mum and dad are so different - it really is true that opposites attract! They have been together now for almost 30 years. Dad is such a legend in my eyes - he has taught me so much, is such an intelligent man, and yet he is such a genuinely cool bloke at he same time. He was the cool kid when he was younger who smoked pot and surfed all day, wagging school when the waves were on. Even now, if you met him you would know he was that guy, and yet he is so smart! I honestly believe that I inherited my brains from my father. Unfortunately, I lucked out on his sportiness which was passed on to my sister and brother. Oh well, you can't have everything, or so they say!
Dad in his man cave
Dad is such an interesting man with so many stories to tell. He has done many an amazing job, he has lived a good life and he is passionate about so much stuff! Dad is the kind of guy who makes friends for life, and he still has many of the friends he went to school with. I love my dad so much, and he loves us kids more than anything else on this earth. That's what holds my parents together, I think. They are both lovers.
Dad and my brother when he was a bubba!
My sister and I never got along when we were little, but as we have grown older we just get closer and closer. She is two and a half years younger than me, and my brother is two and a half years younger than her. Shoni is so beautiful and so sporty - I seriously envy her so much! Kobi is a total character - just like a mini version of dad, complete with smart-arse attitude and surfboard under one arm. The other day he asked mum if he could have the day off to go surfing. It was his second day back at school after holidays, the little bugger! At least he asked though, and respected mum and dad's decision. That's one thing the three of us all have in common - we respect mum and dad so much. What they say goes, end of story. That's a rare quality in teenagers, I guess so mum and dad are lucky to have us! Har-har!
Me, aged 6 with Shoni (4) and Kobi (1)
My relationships with my family have been built out of honesty, trust and love. I am lucky to have such a great family, I know, and to have had such a great childhood! I miss my family so much since I moved. I miss mum and dad, Shoni and Kobi, my aunty Bridget who lives in the house behind ours and all my cousins in Coraki. They are the ones I saw the most when I lived with mum and dad. Family is a massive part of my life. My family have shaped me into the person that I am today, and I am so blessed to have them all!
A rare family photo, taken at my school formal, featuring Aunty Bridget on the left, Jake in the middle and Nan on the right.