• An image I found of the Cherry Liqueur chocolates that Mum loved.
  • It's January 1998 and Sam is enjoying the sun while living at Nonna's.
  • It's April 1998 and Easter lunch at Nonna's house.
  • The smile on Mum's face says it all. She loved bathing Luke in the laundry trough.
  • Sam bathed and ready to relax with Nonna with a bit of television before bed time.
  • Mum swinging with Sam at the local park in February 1998.
  • Sam swinging with Nonna at her local park.
  • Sam celebrating his 3rd birthday in our new home.
  • Luke loves this photo of him and his Nonna Carmela.
  • A precious photo of some of Mum's grandkids and great grandkids on those memorable steps.

Mum would do anything for us and in early 1998, she even let us stay with her in her home. Our house in Lysterfield was still being built and I was fairly pregnant with Luke. Sam was an active toddler and about to turn 2yrs old so understandabIy I was a little emotional. It was hard on all of us, but especially on Mum. It was also very rewarding though as a strong bond formed between us. It was also pretty special that Jim and I and the boys all got to sleep in his old room.

I woke up early on 24th February with some stomach pains and Mum was there. She suggested maybe I go to the hospital even though I wasn't due for another 10 days. I just thought that it was false labour pains which I hadn't experienced with Sam. It wasn't and Luke was born at 2.30pm on the day.

It was challenging with a new born and a toddler and with me not having my own space. Luckily Mum was there to keep an eye on Sam for me. She also made sure that we were all well fed with her special meals. I loved her chicken soup, her carbonara and her amazing pasta forno which I have tried to recreate, but have never quite gotten it the same.

Sam was an early riser just like Mum and couldn't wait to see her in the morning. She would pop him up on the kitchen bench like she had done with her boys many years earlier and give him his breakfast. The birds weren't even up yet.

During the day, Mum would take Sam to the local park which was a few houses down the street to give me a break. She would even have a swing or two with him just to keep him happy and he was. I'm sure she loved it too. He also loved following her around the house and always wanted her brush and shovel. He loved helping her in the garden and wanted the hose to water her plants. She would try to give him a go, but he always seem to aim for the sky. Sam would give Mum a scare and try to pinch one of her hot chilli's. Mum didn't want him to burn his mouth so she would tell him not to, but he wasn't listening and kept testing her. One day, Mum let him put one in his mouth and he never tried to pinch one again.

Mum had these little men statues in the garden which she felt gave her company. One of them she loved more as it reminded her of Dad, cigarette and all. Sam loved him too as he was the same height as him, but Mum was worried that he would knock it over. She loved collecting her garden ornaments.

Mum also loved bathing the kids in the laundry trough which I thought was a little weird at first. It wasn't and it was just the perfect height and she was happy to be bathing her grandkids. With a fluffy towel on the washing machine also at the perfect height, they were clean, warm and cosy. Mum loved all her grandkids and her great gandkids. She would always try to give them the best advice. She especially loved seeing them in person and would make anyone that came over her special beaten egg and sugar coffee treat known as uovo spattuto.

Mum would always try to keep her expanding family together and tried to have get togethers for sausage night, Christmas and Easter. We had made some great memories which will stay with us forever.  In the later years for Mum's birthday, we would all meet up together at the nearest Nando's which she loved to eat.

In the earlier years, we would go to Barbarino's for our shared birthdays as they had the best ribs which Mum and I both loved.

I never forgot that not long after Jim and I got married, I got a job at the David Street Specialist rooms. Mum comes in first thing in the morning on my very first day with a box of her famous liqueur cherry chocolates to wish me good luck. That's how caring she was.

Sadly in June 2016 life changed for all of us and nothing would ever be the same.

Mum loved having photo's of all her loved ones around the house, but mainly in the hallway. Luke always loved a special photo of him and his Nonna Carmela. It turns out that she must have loved it too as we found it in a frame next to her bedroom door.

I told Mum many years ago that I would try and write her story and not let her ever be forgotten. She was so happy that day and over time she loved talking to me about her past. So many things got in our way and time went too quick that there was a lot I never got to ask her. Thankfully sister Ellen was able to fill in some of the missing pieces and explain a lot of the photo's that Mum had carefully kept.


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