Loss and reflection


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Last week I lost two important men in my life – my father in law and an old boss, mentor and friend. They were two very different men but both have made an important impression on my life in ways they probably never knew. As I am unable to attend their funerals I wanted to share these thoughts.

My father in law passed away after many years of illness. I did not know him very well as I met him after he had suffered several strokes and was suffering memory loss and later dementia. English was not his first language so we communicated mostly by smiling. I fondly remember the look of joy in his eyes when my husband and I told him we were expecting twins or “gemelli” in Italian.

When I first visited my parents in law I noticed a picture of Joe on the mantelpiece holding a piano accordion. I later found out it was taken on the set of 80s Australian classic tv show Hey Hey it’s Saturday’s Red Faces talent segment. Joe and his mates did not get gonged by Red the host. In fact, they were sufficiently popular to be flown back to Melbourne  from Adelaide the following week to replay their tune. Somewhere in the back of my mind I feel like I watched those episodes. I’ve been scouring YouTube and the rest of the web for the footage to no avail.

I never knew my grandfathers and I’m very sad that my children will not get to know their Nonno who I know loved them and my husband very much.

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My dear friend “Uncle Roy” passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. Reading through the tributes ex colleagues and friends have posted on social media I can see that I am not alone in my estimation of him as a “true gentleman”.

Roy became my manager after the fallout of a major merger/acquisition at the big IT company where I began my career. During these sensitive times Roy treated everyone with the utmost respect regardless of their background and where they were headed. This was a testament to his character as many people were not treated with dignity when they were made redundant after many long years of service. 

Always dapper, Roy wore Zegna suits and the best quality silk ties.  However behind the calm and supremely professional exterior was a Porsche loving speedster who also loved a gossip. He was fond of long lunches over a glass or two of wine for “strategising” and “planning”.  We had several of these at our favourite haunt Cafe Sydney – thanks HP!

Roy appreciated the need for time out of corporate rat race. We were often being pushed to the limit with long hours and unreasonable deadlines but he always made time for us to recharge – and we were all the more productive for it. He was able to coach me and many others gently through some rocky professional times and I commend him as an outstanding manager and mentor.

Over the years (and aforementioned lunches) I got to know him better and he became a friend. I appreciated his cheeky sense of humour and ability to see the good in people. He was a very caring person. This shone through in all his interactions with people.

The last time I saw Roy we had a wonderful lunch in Melbourne with his lovely wife Helen. I was heavily pregnant with the twins and I appreciated how happy he was for me. I will miss him immensely.

These two men were very different in background and personality though both important in my life for several reasons. As I have been writing this I realised they did share one thing in common. They both enjoyed a glass of red wine over a delicious pasta lunch and so I will think of them both as I do the same.