Category Archives: A little about Nick

The impression you leave behind

Hello again and welcome to this week’s post, I know I keep saying this is going to end blah, blah, and it will very soon, but in the meantime, I just keeping having new posts ‘come to me’ and I feel compelled to write just one more, before the end.

Today i’m wanting to focus on the impression you leave behind and obviously that of Nick’s in particular.

I wanted to share something with you all, that just warms me from within and brings a smile to my face, no it’s not the fact the new OPI Christmas polishes are being released, can you ever have too many reds??

It’s that I received a very special email a few weeks ago from a family friend of ours, Rose. She had obviously met Nick, but only few times over the years and had prayed for our families upon hearing of his diagnosis.

Since reading along with this blog and hearing the stories i’ve shared about us, and more importantly highlighting Nick’s strength, it’s made her appreciate life and want to live out her own dreams.

This is an excerpt from her email to me:

…Although I did not know Nick personally very well, his and your story has had a big impact on my life in a really positive way.

Nick had so much to look forward to and yet was caught up in the whirlwind of cancer, while I am still here, still breathing, I realise it’s not right to waste life when it is such a gift with all its ups and downs.

So, it’s been something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember that the charity Opportunity to Do, would have it’s own chain of Op Shops.

I have leased a shop in Whittlesea and would like to dedicate the shop in memory of Nick. The story of your family represents love, hope and unity in all that life brings…

Well, of course I was thrilled and sent my blessings right away for her to honour Nick in this way. I have sent her photos of Nick to put up in her store, which Rose will include alongside her beautifully written words about his story that she shared with me, ending with:

If you have a dream, go for it. It’s thanks to Nick and his story and journey that the dream to open this fundraising opportunity shop became a reality and is here today.

How beautiful is that?

The impression you leave behind
Us at a work function in 2007

To know that Nick and his story have influenced Rose in such a way, she is now living out one of her dreams.

On a side note, please support Rose and her store, Opportunity To Do, that opens this weekend at 23 Beech Street, Whittlesea, Vic.

You can find her Facebook page here if you want to read more about the organisation and the good work they do.

So, my point is this, what a wonderful impression Nick has left behind.

A life story, that though short, has compelled many to live a more positive life, to appreciate it, even with all the bumps and bruises along the way, to realise how short it can be, to live out your dreams.

Rose’s story is one of many I have heard whilst writing this blog.

Another friend has told me, that they keep a photo of Nick on their fridge since his passing as a daily reminder to be a better partner and parent, first and foremost.

I get regular emails from people who never knew Nick, from halfway around the world, that tell me since reading about Nick’s strength and love for his family, that they look at life differently, they are kinder to their loved ones and don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.

I think, no, I know, Nick would be thrilled hearing these stories, knowing that even in death, he has the ability to leave an impression and impact the lives of others, like he has mine.

Because as i’ve mentioned previously, (you can read about it here if you missed it) I am a changed person since his death, I appreciate everything so much more than I ever did!

Also for those that knew Nick when he was around, would remember he had a huge presence and was never a wallflower kind of guy. You always knew when Nick entered the room. (Of course, in his gym days, it was probably just because he had to walk sideways, just to get his arms through, am I right?)

Knowing this little blog has effected so many people, also leads me to believe this was just another part of ‘what had to happen’ following his passing.

That Nick’s story with all it’s determination, strength and love needed to be shared, so his life can continue to matter and make a difference.

But, you don’t have to be six feet under or have gone through some traumatic life event to leave an impression.

If you are kind and positive, if you don’t dwell on what can’t be changed, if you live a life filled with love, instead of adopting a ‘woe is me’ or a ‘what is wrong with me?’ mentality, then you will always leave your mark on others and believe it or not, it’s not that hard to do!

Before I go, I want to add one last thing,

I spent time with some of Nick’s work colleagues the other day, though they were more friends than anything else. We spoke at length about Nick, while my husband sat with us, I think they were amazed at how positive I still am and how wonderfully supportive my husband John is, listening as we swapped stories of Nick. Thank you John for being a real man, who’s not threatened by our situation. #loveyou  #husband  #insidejoke

So, til next time, which will probably, most likely, maybe not, be my last post….

Michela xx

Thanks for reading along, please write me if you have wanted to change your behaviour/attitude since reading along, or tell me about the impact and impression Nick may have left on you since his passing!

Look what I found..

Hey There, just a quick weekend post I wanted to share with you, that I quickly typed after clearing out my study drawer, Look what I found..

Look what I found..
Photo from 2003, day after we got engaged, looking oh so young!

Today I decided to clean out a drawer in my study, mostly to free up some space, as i’m finding it hard to add anything else to the files.

As i’ve mentioned before Nick was super organised and this obviously extended to our home life and organising of all our paperwork.

Photo below shows the drawer I was starting to clear

look what I found
the drawer

As you’ll see he’d labelled some of the partitions, Tax Info, Insurances, house bills, furniture receipts and certificates, where we kept  our wedding, baptism and I guess I should add death certificates to that list now!

I thought i’d attack the furniture receipts compartment, as I probably haven’t been through it since his passing.

Once I pulled the enormous pile out, I quickly realised they spanned our entire married life.

These old faded receipts, stepped me back in time, through our years together.

There’s no secret Nick was organised, i’ve talked about it previously here but what I found in these folds of paper was more than even I expected.

There were receipts for anything we ever purchased for the house, like our blinds, couches, bed, furniture extending to all his tools and all our appliances.

With every receipt I read, I remembered our time together as newlyweds, shopping for furniture for our new home.

A new home that we had built, that we were excited to live in together, that we hoped to raise a family in.

I found the receipt for my KitchenAid mixer, that he bought as a 1 month wedding anniversary gift, that still holds its pride of place in my kitchen.

I found receipts from Bunnings for every nut and bolt, reminding me of how much extra work he put into our home, that he never stopped trying to improve.

How before he died, he built a small shelter out the back where my bins are kept, so I wouldn’t get wet, if it rained and I needed to dump some rubbish.

I found every receipt for the theater room, that was his pride and joy, that kept him entertained and helped him block out his illness, watching movies or the Grand Prix.

Where we’d sleep on the recliner chairs at night, when his cancer wouldn’t allow him to lie down.

I found receipts for every suit he purchased for work, including alteration pick up receipts and every new pair of shoes he bought to go with them.  Nick was very conscious of his appearance and never wore the same suit twice in a week!

Within the folds of these pieces of paper, I found the receipt for my Prada sunglasses, that he bought me from Rome, Italy. That I still only wear when driving, because I hate wearing sunglasses otherwise, but he was adamant I needed a pair to protect my eyes from sun damage and wrinkles. (Always making sure I looked after myself!) Nick had a love of sunglasses and between him and my sister, they always gave me grief that I didn’t own a pair! The shock!

I even found the transfer paper for his beloved RX7, which I wrote a little about in this post and also the papers for this last motorbike transfer. My heart aches just remembering how sad he was to let his motorbike go, how much joy it bought him, but ultimately knowing he wasn’t in good enough health to ride it anymore.

My favourite receipt that bought a tear to my eye, was the final piece of jewellery he bought me for our 6 year anniversary, that I wrote a little about in this piece. The beautiful diamond stud earrings, that i’ve worn ever since. He purchased these all on his own, and it makes me smile to find the receipt now dated 20/1/11, two days before our anniversary and just 2 weeks before his passing on 5/2/11.

Giving a little insight into his actions before he died, on a spare moment when I wasn’t by his side.

In short, these receipts are a walk down memory lane, what I thought would take a quick minute to go through, had me laughing, crying and reminiscing over an hour and half instead.

Look what I found
Some of the reciepts

As for clearing out the drawer, I ditched half of them and the rest with the memories attached, I’ve added to Nick’s memory box to show Claudia one day, to talk her through her Daddy’s addiction to keeping everything, just in case!

(Gosh, I hope she doesn’t inherit that from him or else her toys could take over the world, or at very least the house!)

Because it doesn’t matter how long it’s been (3 1/2 years) or that i’ve happily re-married (early this Jan) just the faintest printed receipt can bring me right back to our time together, and i’m just fine with that.

Til next time, Michela xx

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Being organised

There’s one thing about Nick you must know, it’s that he loved being organised. This included doing the best he could, to try and organise things for me, once he was gone. One of his many positions at Toyota was as a Corporate Planner and I guess the skills he developed there stayed with him (oh, and his excel skills he always bragged about!).

Most people can’t fathom the thought of knowing they’re going to die and not falling to pieces, but Nick, like with most things, just got about to organising instead.

Prior to his illness, we had a very traditional relationship, he paid the bills and handled the finances and i’d cook and clean, very 50’s housewife, I know! This also included, me spending 2 hours every Sunday ironing his shirts for the week, which his friends gave him stick for, saying it would be more time effective to send them to the cleaners, that he was being tight, but we were just happy playing our roles. I never complained, because it didn’t bother me.

Then came his diagnosis and Nick knew things had to change. He’d tell me I needed to sit with him and pay the bills, he had a spreadsheet he made, listing all the monies going in and out, so he was always ahead of what we needed etc. (if I had a dollar for everyone he tried to convert to use his spreadsheet, i’d be a rich lady! Did he try and push it on you?) He wanted me to study it, he’d say, ‘I won’t be here to do this for you next year, you better learn it!’

At the beginning, i’d zone out, tell him i’d learn it when he got really sick and I had to do it. But, he wasn’t buying my excuses. He scheduled lessons for me, how to pay bills, where to file them, what to do come tax time. It was exhausting, but necessary, and something I’m grateful for now.

I know this must sounds so silly to some of you reading, how could I have got to 30 and not known the basics of our household. It’s not something i’m proud of, but it just happened and it was easy and blissful not to be caught up in how much the power bill was!

But, I must stress, this is not the me now, i’m on top of everything. Being a strong, independent woman, means having responsibility and knowing how much money I have to spend each week on important things, like nail polishes!

Nick also left me a list, with 3 different examples of what I could do with our finances after he passed. It was him on a piece of paper. Knowing I was a little clueless at the time, he gave me a basic run down of what each option was, and how it could work for my daughter and I, both in the short and long term.

He found out exactly what superannuation he had, he made sure I was his beneficiary on forms, little things most people take for granted, he spent time double checking. He had everything covered!

Another example of his being organised, actually involves my Dad. My grandfather (or Nonno, as we called him), who Nick and I, were especially close with, passed away just after Nick’s diagnosis. Nick and my grandfather, basically had the same character traits. They say you marry a version of your father well, we always joked I married someone closer to my grandfather instead. As for Nonno’s funeral, on a side note, do not deliver the eulogy after your husband, (who the whole church knows has cancer), does his, you will come off second best!

Being Organised
Us with my grandfather at our engagement in 2004

My Dad had bought my grandfather his plot for the burial and Nick asked him to buy him one too, next to my Nonno, and he did. Even in the face of his illness, he still wanted to pick where his final resting place would be. Organised or what ? I must say, this was one part, I was thankful to not have had to worry about, at the time of his passing. That was always his intention, to make it as easy for me, as he could. Thanks Nick, I appreciated it!!

He was also constantly writing lists for me, anything that popped into his mind. He started carrying around a notebook and pen and he’d jot down things as they came to mind. I’ve put his last notebook away for my daughter to discover one day. Sometimes the lists were mundane things we needed to do during the day, but after flicking through it the other day, this page jumped out at me and the little note on the bottom with its smiling face said all it all, ‘Have fun always’.

Being Organised
Have Fun Always

It’s a reminder of what Nick would constantly say to me, we were lucky enough to share many conversations about his passing and what he wanted for my daughter and I once he was gone:

1. Take off your wedding rings once I die, (when you’re ready, of course!) He would tell me not to hold onto them for him, when it was time to take them off, he would understand.

2. Go back to work when you’re ready, don’t be rushed. If you don’t enjoy it, leave and find out what your passion is. He thought I had so many talents and could never understand why I never put them to use.

3. Don’t wear black for me. He hated the tradition of wearing black to mourn the dead and he never liked me in black. This was big deal for him, of course I did wear black to the funeral, but that was it and I did get in huge trouble with my grandma for wearing pink the day he died, they just didn’t get it. Oh well!

4. Don’t let other people tell you what to do once i’m gone. You’re in charge of you and our daughter and your decisions are yours alone. Nick had a fear that people would step all over me once he was gone and try and dictate my life. This is what encouraged me to become the new me. Strong, independent and in charge of my world.

5. Marry again, though you’ll never find anyone as good as me! Though I didn’t want to hear this at the time, he always said he wanted me to move forward in life and re-marry again. He wanted a father figure for our daughter and he didn’t want me alone the rest of my days, I was only 30!

I think it was easier to move on, knowing he gave me his permission to do so. I wasn’t looking for love when my new husband and I began talking again, 14 years after we first dated. And no, Nick, he isn’t a bit like you and that’s ok, he’s his own person and a wonderful addition to our world.

Being Organised
John & Me

and finally, I leave with you, 6. Have Fun Always! This was something he always said, he wanted us to enjoy life and all it had to offer. He even made me promise to take our daughter to New York when she’s 16, because we had enjoyed it so much, i’m not complaining about that one. It’s a date!

All Nick wanted was for us to live and love and be happy and it’s something i’ve tried to do everyday since his passing.

To try and see the fun in everything you do, makes for a better & happier life, in my humble opinion!

Til next time, Michela x

Happy Birthday Nick!

Today I have taken a break from the Back to the beginning series for a special post – Happy Birthday Nick! It’s March 16th and instead of being sad about it, I choose to celebrate Nick’s life, in the same way I have since his passing.

Today is also the Melbourne Grand Prix and if you knew anything about Nick, it was that he had a crazy love for the sport and luckily enough, it nearly always landed on his birthday! (Not so great for any photos we might have tried to get on his birthday, he was always bright red and sun burnt from being at the track!)

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick celebrating a birthday, looking as red as his cake!

(* on a side note, you’ll see how old this photo must be, when you look at how ancient that phone next to him looks!)

One of his last memorable birthdays was his 30th, being that it was on a GP weekend, it was only appropriate that it was also Grand Prix themed, as noted by the invitation below:

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick’s 30th Birthday invite
Happy Birthday Nick!
Us at his 30th, him burnt from being at the GP all day!! Somebody say sunglasses marks!
Happy Birthday Nick!
30th Birthday room setup (we thought it looked pretty good, at the time!)

As you’ll notice Nick’s favourite team was McLaren, but he also was very passionate about the Panasonic Toyota Racing team (whilst they were around), due to the loyalty he felt in being an employee and loving his job at Toyota for the last 13 years of his life! There was even a Toyota fancy dress competition he entered once, where he went to the GP dressed as Captain Toyota, no photo evidence of this, but believe me, it was funny! And for wearing his undies over leggings in public, he only got second place, he was devastated, because 1st prize was a trip to the Monaco GP. (If anyone has a photo of this, please send it to me!!)

On a less humiliating note, being that he worked for Toyota, he was also privy to tickets to races and even meeting drivers, as below, in these pics with their driver, Jarno Trulli.

Happy Birthday Nick!
Meeting Trulli in March 09′
Happy Birthday Nick!
So happy to hang with Trulli in 2009

If you’re a friend of Nick’s, you won’t need me to tell you how much he hated Ferrari. I think it was more about the friendly rivalry to ‘stick it up the spags’ as he’d say. He loved the GP so much, that he would stay up all night, to watch it live throughout the season. From my bedroom, I could clearly hear him calling around to all his mates, also watching, and giving them a ribbing for how their teams, but namely Ferrari, were going! After Nick’s death, I remember a couple of his friends saying how difficult it was for them to watch it and know he wasn’t going to call.

He also loved the GP so much, that he planned our holidays around races. While he would have loved to cross a few more of the international circuits off his list, it wasn’t to be. On our last trip to Italy before his passing, he desperately wanted to go to the Italian GP, but his health wasn’t so great and it was a far distance from where we were at the time.

In also keeping with my, ‘never say no to your dying husband’ plan, we booked a trip to Malaysia with our friends John and Natalie to see another GP in April 2011, but he passed away before then.

At the time of planning, we’d all be looking at each other thinking there’s a good chance he won’t be around to go to this, but he was so persistent, all we could do was agree and book tickets. Nick was so determined to see another Grand Prix race live before he died,  that I just let him do whatever he wanted, regardless of the consequences.

Once he passed away, we were able to get our money back on airline tickets and I even managed to sell his Malaysian GP ticket to my mum’s neighbour who was going to be holidaying there at the same time, what a fluke!! So, in all, it made him happy planning it and there was no harm done.

He did get to the Malaysian and Montreal races, before his illness, also travelling with others who enjoyed the Grand Prix as much as he did, we went to Malaysia with my sister, Franca and brother in law, Eden and met up with a good friend of Nick’s from Toyota, Nick & his wife Sophie, to go to the Montreal race.

Happy Birthday Nick!
Grid girls in Malaysia, 09′, his favourite thing to do at the track was get this shot!
Happy Birthday Nick!
Montreal track in 08′
Happy Birthday Nick!
Accident in Montreal

Nick loved driving and would often say that he would have been a gun Formula One driver, I believe him, but as his well weight was over 100kg, we’d always joke he’d never fit in the narrow cars, when he got sick and started to shrink, he would say to me, he was now the perfect drivers weight. But, too bad, by then, I was the closest thing to a grid girl he was going to see!

One of the things i’ve stored away for our daughter, is his collection of Formula One race passes. I’m sure a few have gone missing over the years, but I look forward to the day, when I get to talk to her about her Dad’s obsession with these as proof, oh and the other 200 photos of Nick posing with grid girls, he never got bored of that!

Happy Birthday Nick!
Collection of GP passes

The last birthday that Nick planned was for his 33rd birthday, knowing he probably wasn’t going to be around much longer, he thought he’d throw a huge party at his friend John’s restaurant and invite everyone who meant something to him. These were the last invites he ever sent out:

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick’s last birthday invite

Nick died 5 weeks before this party, so I did the one thing I knew he’d want me to do, I continued on with it. Instead of it being just a birthday party, I made it a celebration of his life instead. After the heaviness of his funeral, and feeling like there was nothing of Nick there, I needed to do something that was Nick. A party was just what he’d want!

I think most people would have thought I’d cancel the party, but the thought never crossed my mind. It was a gathering of all our favourite people, who meant so much to us and had been such a support over the past 7 months, even his Doctors and some of the hospital staff, who he’d left an impression on, made it. I had such a good time that day, being able to thank everyone for their support, i’m sure some of our guests expected to see me a broken woman dressed in black, but I was anything but, I spent the day talking about the man who meant so much to me, there were no tears, just happy memories.

My friend, Margaret, put all his photos together and we played this during the day, I have vivid memories of laughing out loud at the pics, and saying, ‘oh..remember that day..’, it was the best good bye I could have given Nick.

Another nod to his love of the GP is visible on his headstone. I had no doubt in my mind, that I wanted something to reflect his love of the sport and so I had the racing flags etched on it for him. Some might think it’s a bit much, but I thought it was the perfect touch! (Much better than the Toyota symbol, some people suggested!)

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick’s headstone before it was erected

So, today I wish Nick a very Happy Birthday, wherever he is, looking down on us, though i’m sure he’s really track side watching the GP!

Thanks for everything Nick, we’ll never forget you, you were one of a kind!

Til next time, Michela x