For the Authors, this book would not have been possible without the existence of the brilliant, vivid, bright, superb, wonderful, luminous, radiant, and very beautiful person whom the authors simply refer to as ‘Mum’, or in their Aramaic (Syriac) language, ܐܡܐ. Their mother was always there for them as they went through the highs and lows of their lives, always encouraging and helping them throughout her life, and this help continued even when the authors became adults. She continued to be a source of great help until she answered God’s call and went into her eternal sleep on that Wednesday afternoon in March of 2016. This book is written by her five children and is an attempt to keep the memory of Bathqyomo Marine Khoury-Issa’s memory alive.
The idea of this book came to the authors as they remembered that their mother usually encouraged them to pursue their dreams, and she (together with their father) worked very hard to help them reach different milestones in their lives despite the immense difficulties that they faced. Therefore, the authors thought of sharing with others, through the pages of this book, some of what their mother had taught them, how she made them aware of the plight of everyone around them. Indeed, what their mother used to do throughout her life came naturally and was welcomed by all. Her children felt the way she dealt with them and all those whom she knew was something unique to her, as it came directly from her beautiful heart and delightful soul. It was the magic of her beautiful smile, the kindness of her heart and the selfless actions that she was known for, as she felt being an Orthodox priest’s wife has immense responsibilities of being with the happy, the grieving, the sick, the gravely ill, the displaced, those who belonged to her church and others from outside the church, providing for all of them in a way that was calm, comforting and seamless.
Their mother hailed from Mesopotamia, “the land between the two rivers”. Mesopotamia is the place that is referred to as the “Cradle of Western Civilization”. Therefore, it felt prudent to include in this book some of the literature that talks about this great civilization that the authors’ parents brought them nearer to by what they taught, told and asked to read in history books. The recipes included in this book were taught to the authors by their mother, and thus have a Mesopotamian origin.
This book is dedicated to the authors’ mother, Bathqyomo Marine Khoury-Issa, with her unique characteristics as a spouse, mother and matriarch of the Issa family. Her care continues to exist in the food she used to cook (both main dishes and sweets), the care she gave to the garden, the way she faced life and the way she welcomed people into her home and family. The Authors also acknowledged the great support of their father V. Rev. Fr. Boutros Touma Issa stating that, and we quote: “this book would not have been completed without the ongoing support of our father (Dad) V. Rev. Fr. Boutros Touma Issa who continues to provide from his wisdom to all of us. Our Dad has and continues to be the rock that supports us through the highs and lows in our lives.” (Nova)