Welcome to my blog. This time I’m not writing about testing, management or problems with estimates. This blog is dedicated to something much more real, something much more relevant than our “9 to 5” lives. You see, in the early hours of Monday 29th February, my Father-in-Law, Giuseppe (Joe) Marinelli, passed away. He’d been sick for a long time. Various ailments that, brick by brick, constructed a wall he could no longer grapple his way over. It started with a diagnosis of diabetes. Eventually he lost a leg, amputated at the knee due to gangrene, courtesy of diabetes. You’d think that just might be enough for one lifetime, especially for man that had worked hard and tirelessly for most of his life. Retirement should bring you something better, right? Nature doesn’t play by right and wrong, fair and unfair, it simply rolls on handing out whatever cards are in your deck. Sometimes, if luck is on your side, medical science, natures own change of mind or God (should you choose to believe) gives you the opportunity to hand back a few of the cards and ask for a better hand. Joe didn’t have that luxury, he was out of luck. It’s hard to reconcile in some ways. As a practising Catholic with firm beliefs he should have had a vast cast of Saints and the big Guy himself helping him out. Perhaps it’s easier to reconcile if you hold faith close to your inner most beliefs. While Joe was getting on with walking on a prosthetic limb he was diagnosed with dementia. He fought both dementia and diabetes for while at home with his wife Giuseppina (Josie). Then the going simply got too tough, the cliffs to steep to climb. The last six years of his life being spent in a nursing home where he could receive the dedicated, around the clock care he required.
I could simply farewell Joe at this point but if you’ve read this far he needs to become more than a man racked by relentless diseases. He was a powerful man. To be honest, when I first met him, and for a while afterwards, he could be quite intimidating. Not sure he meant to be, but he was. Like all of us, he was not black and white, but a mixture of infinite shades of grey that blend to produce both lighter and darker elements. A mix of complexity that makes us distinctly human and means that we are not perfect beings.
When you leave your home town of Musellaro, Pescara in Italy in 1955, aged 20, bound for a land called Australia you probably learn a bit of resillience. He travelled with a few family members to help set up for family that would follow later. A year later Josie made the same trip, they were married in 1957 and their first daughter born in 1958. For all but the first few moths of his life Joe lived in the same house in Abbotsford. He and Josie raised 4 children in that house, not big by any means, but comfortable, safe and more than being a house, it was a home.
I can’t consider this story complete without mentioning that Joe was (is) a Holden man. We even made sure that his final ride would be in a General Motors Holden vehicle, the big lion sitting proudly at the front. Joe worked at the GMH plant at Fishermans Bend, Port Melbourne for 40 years. Says a lot about his character. There will never be a bigger or better advertisement for a brand than Joe and Holdens. He loved those cars and the people he worked with (and, as far as I can tell, they loved him as much in return).
In a few days we lay Giuseppe to rest. Forever his legacy will live on. Born in Italy, later becoming a naturalised and immensely proud Australian (he loved Slim Dusty and Holdens – do I really need to say more). His stories, his way of talking, his love of food. I’ll always remember how once he wouldn’t eat dessert unless it was fruit. Then it had to be at room temperature because of sensitive teeth. Somewhere along the way, during his illness, that changed to the point he loved dessert and would chomp through frozen cheesecake. At some point, at the wake, I expect a bunch of Joe’s stories, and stories about Joe, to be told and laughter to follow. These are stories his Grandchildren have heard and ones that his Great Grandchildren will hear.
Joe, you helped produce the young lady that became my wife and my soul mate. We have two kids that you loved unconditionally. You were part of delivering a life I love. Rest in peace, free of pain. You will live on through your family and their memories.