Maria and Patricia
I have been thinking of my friend Maria delli Zotti. Maria was a simultaneous interpreter at NATO in Brussels during the sixties to eighties when I was there. She was also a member of the School of Philosophy, an esoteric Wisdom School which I attended, which is how I came to know her. Maria spoke several languages, French, Spanish and Italian, as well as English. This, she said modestly, was because of her background, French/Italian, and probably other strands as well.
Maria was a senior member of the School, was a tutor as well as a meditation teacher, whilst I was quite junior. She was extremely elegant, small and petite, she was always beautifully dressed in a classic style. I admired her greatly. She was warm and outgoing, and regularly invited people round to her flat for tea and a chat. I found her very easy to talk to, I had many problems at that time, and she always listened and gave me good advice. In a way she became a confidante and a kind of mentor to me in the School.
An early morning calligraphy class, Carol is teaching in the foreground, I am next to her in a red cardigan, Maria is in the background, also in red.
Very sadly, Maria died quite suddenly when only in her fifties. This is what I wrote at the time.
“My friend Maria
I was having lunch with my friend Maria. For quite a long time she had been complaining of headaches. It was so unusual for her to complain, I ought to have realised there was something very wrong. I had seen her getting thinner and thinner, but she was immaculately dressed as always, even more elegant than usual.
As I say, we were having lunch. She did not talk very much and I was struggling to find things to say. We fell silent. I had a feeling it was taking her all her energy just to sit there. She suggested a walk in the fresh air.
I was hurrying a little, as I had to get back early to the office. As we went out and down the steps, she stumbled and lost her shoe. I remember thinking what absurdly high heels she was wearing. I realised I was going too fast and slowed down my pace to hers. I parted from her at the Main Entrance to go back to the office.
A week later, I heard she was in hospital, three weeks later, she was dead. Even as I left her, she was dying on her feet. If only I had known – but she would not have wanted it that way. She was courageous, considerate and kind, to the very end.
A very rare human being – my friend Maria.”
At the time of Maria’s death, I had left the School, but we still kept in touch. I went to her funeral, which was simple and very moving, and I met many of my old fellow philosophers there, among them Trevor who came up to talk to me. I had left the School in 1985 and I left Brussels in 1989, so it must have been at some point during those years.
Another old friend from the School has just recently died, Anita Morris, a very lovely lady. Her death has brought back many memories of the School. It was a very special time for me, which is why I feel like paying this tribute to Maria here now.
Anita and Trevor
May they rest in peace.