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

7 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Nick!

  1. Hello Michela
    Your blog has saddened me and yet made me smile. Not sure if you remember me I work at Nuna Toy where Nick was loved by all. We still speak of him and remember him this time of the year. I’ve often wondered how you coped and I’m so glad to read that you did ok and that you managed to find love again for both you and your precious daughter. From one widow to another I understand your thoughts, fears. relief and pain. This is my 12th year and the pain does ease but the memories are as clear as water. Unlike you my husband died suddenly but the end result was the same. For those who can never understand it’s much easier not to re-marry so I admire your courage and I congratulate you on h2. I’m finally engaged but it took 7 years to get here. Like you said there is no time limit and for the people who don’t support you I think they’re worried about how it makes them feel. Good luck and I look forward to reading more xxx

    1. Hi Thelma,
      Of course I remember you!!
      I’m so happy to hear you have read the blog and I hope you continue to. I’ve always been so grateful for the time Nick and I had before he passed away, I can’t imagine how much harder your husband’s passing was on you and your kids, because it was so sudden, and in ways im sure you’ll agree, even though ive re-married a wonderful man, apart of me, will always be a widow. Congratulations on your engagement too, you deserve happiness.
      I’m sure you’ll agree the love you have for your husband never goes away, even though they aren’t living this life with you, and yes, totally agree about people not being happy for me, because of how it makes them feel, especially about their own relationships, but that’s a post for another day!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Nick loved all of you at Nunawading, pls say hi to Bev, Pete and the rest of the team! xxxx

  2. A very post on a very special day and beautifully written Chel. I love all the pics that you’ve included, especially the GP passes. His party certainly was a beautiful celebration of his life and thanks for letting me make the DVD, I loved putting it together and was so happy I could do that for you and him. Happy Birthday Nick – and yes I’m sure he was track side today!

    1. Thanks Bella, yes, he definitely would have been at the track today, not reading my post, thank you for the beautiful message!
      And that dvd you made, was the perfect way to end his last party, he would have loved it! xx

  3. That is awesome.very well put together and the best way to reflect on a man that touched and influence whoever was friends with him. I have alot of funny memories of nick some that always come to me time to time with certain things I do. He often comes up in conversations when all the boys are together about all the funny comments he’d often make. Nick not only you were taken from us too soon but you had so much to give to your friends and family. You are greatly missed and heaven has definitely gained another angel. Always thinking of you.
    Your brother from another mother.
    TROY.

    1. Thanks Troy, really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Hope you are well!
      So nice to know that you all still talk and laugh about your times with Nick, he was a special guy to so many people xx

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