Wife, mother, grandmother, woman of faith, great cook. Born June 16, 1931, in Khartoum. Died Oct. 13, 2011, in Thornhill, Ont., of organ failure, aged 80.
Antoinette Matta was a caring individual with a strong connection to her family and a strong faith in God.
She grew up in Khartoum. After her father died of malaria when she was 14, her mother moved her and her brother and three sisters to Egypt to be closer to relatives.
In her last year of high school, Antoinette met Moufied Matta. Although they attended different schools, he helped her with math and she helped him with chemistry. They married in 1961.
Antoinette graduated with a commerce degree and worked in the finance department at Shell in Cairo. Hearing of opportunities abroad, she encouraged Moufied to immigrate to Canada with their three young boys, Ashraf, Ayman and Ihab, even though it meant starting over at age 36. She spent many years at IBM, balancing long work hours with taking certified general accountant courses and providing for her family. As an accountant, she knew the value of a dollar, but she always tried to get the best for her family.
Food was important to Antoinette because of its ability to gather family and friends together. Preparing her sought-after recipes allowed her to demonstrate her excellent cooking skills and her generosity. Anyone who came to visit knew they couldn’t just put a small amount on their dish and expect that to be enough. She would help them along by adding food to their plate.
A strong woman, Antoinette endured many challenges in life, particularly health-related. She maintained her determination and sense of humour, joking about her memory after a fall and resulting serious head injury in 2004. Her progressive hearing loss allowed her to selectively choose what she would listen to when told of ways of dealing with her diabetes.
These challenges made Antoinette an empathetic individual. She tried not to judge people, telling her children to consider what unknown challenge God may have given someone to deal with. This empathy helped her form strong bonds with people.
In the few months before she died, Antoinette celebrated her 80th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary, allowing her to flash her warm and beautiful smile for the camera, which she liked to do.
In her last few weeks, it pained her, as her health deteriorated, to no longer be able to do the things she enjoyed, particularly cooking or eating. Nonetheless, she ensured that sufficient shopping was done to provide meals for her sister visiting from overseas.
As she wished, Antoinette died at home, surrounded by her family. She left us peacefully, her smile intact, while the sun broke through what had been a cloudy morning, as if to say she knew she was going to a better place.
By Ashraf Matta, Antoinette’s son.