New resident Maria Rushing, who comes to us from Potomac Falls, was born and raised in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. For those of you whose knowledge of geography is as fuzzy as mine: Eritrea is a small East African country in the Horn of Africa with an extensive coastline along the Red Sea. It was colonized by Italy in the late 1800s, but annexed to Ethiopia after World War II, finally winning its independence in 1993.
Maria’s family, who originally came from Italy, had lived in Asmara for several generations, and it was always assumed she would marry a local boy with similar bloodlines. Not so. Charlie hailed from Cairo, Illinois, and was an upcoming Vice Consul at the American Consulate in Asmara when they met.
And how did they meet? Maria was working as a hostess for Aden Airways, the Asmara subsidiary of British Airways, and Charlie stopped at her desk and asked her a question. He asked the question in English, however, and she didn’t understand him. Although she was able to read three additional languages: French, Arabic, and English, she couldn’t speak them. So Charlie switched to Italian, after which he gallantly offered to walk her home. And that was that. They were married five months later.
This was in 1960, and Maria and Charlie would have a long and happy marriage of 50 years, one filled with the challenges and joys of family and career as they moved and lived throughout the world, in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Their first posting as a married couple was to Southern Rhodesia, where their son, Evan, was born. Since Rhodesia had been a British Colony, English was spoken, and Maria’s English vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds. Then they were sent to the French Congo –and to Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo where Maria polished up her French and their second son, Alex, was born. Then they received orders to the Washington, D.C. area, where they bought their first home.
In 1969 they were sent to Vientiane, capital of Laos. It was beautiful, Maria says, and the people were wonderful, but it was a sad tour because war and the echoes of war were all around. Then on to Monrovia, Liberia, for two years, followed by six months in Rome, where Charlie attended the NATO Defense College. After that, they were sent home to Virginia, to the Danish Language School, followed by – you guessed it! – a four-year tour in Copenhagen.
After Copenhagen, the family spent four years (1978- 1982) in Dublin, Ireland, before returning to their house in Chevy Chase. They had a three-year home tour, then a six-year posting to Geneva, Switzerland. Then there were two years in Norfolk, VA, before they were sent back to the D.C. area. Charlie’s final assignment was as a senior political adviser to the State Department’s Executive Secretariat in Washington. Sadly, Charlie died in 2010.
Maria has friends in this area from her days with the Foreign Service. Several live here at Falcons Landing. She visited and liked what she saw. She particularly liked the fact that Falcons Landing has an enthusiastic Mah-Jongg group.
So, with Maria’s ability to read and speak several languages, which does she now prefer to use? English, of course. However, she says she still dreams in Italian. And counts in Italian. Especially when tallying her Mah-Jongg!