Where can I start? Rami my baby, or Rami my young child? Rami my teenager, or Rami my young man? He has left me with an abundance of memories from every stage of his life.
Rami was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, surrounded by loving family members who were excited about his arrival. He was to form a budding friendship with Karim Farra, my cousin, which kept growing until the end. He was such a lovely, happy baby, we bonded strongly and this bond grew stronger with time. We were very close; he grew up to be my best friend. He grew wiser with years, while experience and education refined his views – we always sought his judgment on family issues.
When we moved to London he was only three years old. He joined Hill House International School, where his personality was moulded as he mixed with people of many nationalities. There he grew up to respect people from different faiths and learned about all religions.
The most important thing about Hill House was the many friendships that started there and grew with him, including with his best man and closest friend Saif Alwan and later his work colleague Mustapha Al Rawi, along with many others. At 13 years old, many went to different schools; their friendship was not affected, but grew stronger. I have endless stories of the boys staying over in London: their first day camps, first sports day and, most fun of all, their first ball, when they all got suits and were well groomed for the adventure.
Rami’s birthday was always fun, being at Halloween; the themes for his parties were quite challenging every year. Who will forget his 21st birthday, when he wore a Scottish kilt? Well, the boys grew up, but I still saw them – for Rami, they were his brothers, and he was generous with his time, games and clothes.
There were so many adventures in those teen years: Rami wanted to discover everything. He was not very happy with me being strict or trying to monitor him, and there were times, of course, when school did not mean much to him, but he sailed through and got his A-levels. He went to the University of Buckingham and got his BA with Honours in two years.
He left Buckingham a mature man, though he decided to go wild before starting work. He told me, ‘Mum, I will not be able to do any crazy stuff once I start work,’ so he came home with a zebra design hairstyle!
The time came for Rami to go to Dubai to start working: I missed him terribly, but at that time internet and webcam were out, so we could communicate, see each other and he would show me his office and what changes he had made in the house. He wanted to immerse himself in all aspects of the pipe business, from the factory upwards.
He found a refuge in religion: in moderate Islam, which teaches love, virtue and principles to respect and help others. He became a different man: still cracking jokes and enjoying life, but he was committed to his rituals. I was blessed that he asked permission from his father to take me to Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) in 2000. It was such a great experience – at the time he told me, ‘We are going to go in a normal group; we need to be down to earth and struggle in Hajj as we will have more “ajr” [spiritual reward],’ and we did. It was such a lovely experience, to be with him in Mecca, in Arafat, repenting for all past deeds, in Medina, visiting the Prophet’s resting place. I could not have asked for more; I cherished every moment and I still do.
Later in 2001 Fouad and I celebrated our 25th anniversary, and Rami surprised us with a film production about us: he went to the trouble of going to three countries to interview family members and friends. He left us with a beautiful memory and made us cry as we watched.
He married and became a father, and what a great father he was: his three girls were his treasure, he loved them to bits, and they were his life. He had dreams for their future: he wanted them to be disciplined, responsible and proud to be Makhzoumis. His father a few years back had commissioned a historian to write about the origin of the family and its history and the prominent people along the years. Rami took this to a different level, and produced a great documentary which includes the history with maps and old films, interviews with family members and even included the children. He requested all our photo albums and scanned the pictures, so we could have a digital recording of them and later can produce a family book. I promise you, Rami, we will do that!
For every trip his family took, he printed a book with photos from that trip, keeping the memories alive. It is somehow as if he knew he was leaving us soon, for he did for us what nobody thought of doing before. He did a lot for his kids, guided them along, got them into all aspects of modern technology, took them to faraway places, and showed them the world. He always told me ‘I want to spend as much time as I can with them. I want to have balance in my life, give priorities to my family and give them as much time as I give work.’
He was a special person, everything about him was unique: his taste in clothes, in furniture, in music, in art. He had a special way of looking at life, enjoying it to the full but living with faith and respect. Everybody who met him, even once, felt he was different: people respected him, admired him, and loved him; family, friends, colleagues, employees – he touched their hearts. He was a good man and will be remembered for his good deeds.
Finally, he moved his family to live in Beirut; at last the family was reunited – us, our daughters and him. Finally the siblings were able to do things together: they had matured and begun to understand each other better than at any other time. A couple of years back or so, he told me, ‘I regret I did not spend time with my sisters as they were growing; I was at university, then work; we lived apart, but I want to compensate for that.’ Well, he did in his last year and was looking forward to spending time together. Me too – I was looking forward to such times. But alas, he left us too soon. Still, we are all together – from high above he is looking at us, joining in everything we do; he is alive in every breath, with every tear, with every smile; he lives in our hearts, in our minds, he will be present always.
The first year has passed, your first birthday without you. Not a day has passed you were not thought of, not a day without tears shed in your remembrance. Your memory lives with us, it keeps us going… your smile, your laughter, your glittering eyes greeting us as we come and go.
October 2012, your second birthday without you is approaching. You would have been 35 this year! Alas you are far, far away, not counting the years, not counting the days, but your spirit roams in Heaven, watching us, waiting for us. And we here await the day we will meet you again. But we’re keeping your legacy alive, for the sake of your kids…. for your sake, to fulfil all your dreams and aspirations.
The presence of your girls in our life has helped us grieve peacefully, patiently, lovingly, strengthened by faith, knowing God has ways of showing us the right way to accept fate, and do what is required.
Love you Rami, will always do…