‘Who knows where the time goes?’ asked folk-rock singer Sandy Denny in her beautiful song dating from 1967 and which accompanied her throughout her short life.
Where does it go indeed? It’s now ten years since my friend and builder, Fabio Lucchesi, died on a cold but sunny January 7th in 2007. If there was a perfect gentleman in these parts it was him. Sandra and I shall never forget those last days Fabio spent in Barga hospital where, on oxygen, he said to us. ‘I’m fine breathing real Himalayan air.’ The very last time we saw him he was in such pain that he could not utter a single word to us. These moments will stay with us but, more than ever will we remember the happy times he passed with us getting our new central heating system installed and working and helping us out on a thousand and one other jobs on the house we’d bought in Longoio in 2005.
Fabio originated in these parts but emigrated to America where he brought up his family in a farmstead in West Virginia. Deciding to return to Italy with his relative Paolino (better known as ‘Uncle Paul’) he accepted the fact that his wife did not decide to follow him. Fabio had already suffered the heart-rending loss of his teenage daughter Giovanna, of Leukaemia in 1993. In 2006 his son came to visit him in the Controneria and Fabio was glad that I took his, initially somewhat withdrawn, son on my scooter for various outings, as a result of which he opened out.
Fabio had many, many friends and was known for never having a bad word to say about anyone – something which many people would do well to remember today in these ever more difficult times, Fabio’s home was open to all and I recollect some highly convivial evenings at dinner with him.
Fabio was never afraid of getting his hands dirty in any job given to him but surely he deserved better in his life for he was a highly intelligent and well-read person.
Fabio found a close friendship with an American woman, similarly of Italian origin, but confessed to me he wondered whether there would be anything serious in their relationship. I think he had premonitions that he would soon go to another world.
When Fabio’s final Calvary approached we were devastated but relieved to know that it was short and that his suffering had come to an end.
Fabio’s funeral at the Pieve di Controni was held in a packed church with several of the people he’d helped getting their house in order flying in from countries such as the USA and Britain specially for it. At the funeral I read something I’d written for Fabio. It was one of the first occasions when members of the congregation would be able to personally contribute some homage. This has now become customary on most funerary services in our area today.
7 Gennaio 2007
Se ritrovi la luce nel fosco della notte
Ricorda le tracce mie nella tua casa
Se nell’’inverno non soffri più freddo
Ricorda la mia mano sul piccone
Se ammiri l’arco che amplia la stanza
Ricorda chi ha tolto le pietre
Se adocchi la tua legna messa a modo
Ricorda come ti aiutai a disporla
Se pensi alle cenate conviviali d’estate
Ricorda le nostre belle serate
Se rimpiangi di perdonare
Ricorda quelle mie ultime parole a te.
Mi ritrovo più alto dei monti dell’Imalaia
– il mio ossigeno è Dio Lui stesso.
I lavori miei vivranno di là da me:
Nel tuo focolare, nel tuo cuore, ti sarò sempre vicino.
January 7, 2007
If you find yourself in night’s dusky light
remember my traces in your home.
If you don’t suffer winter’s cold
remember my hand on the pickaxe.
If you admire the arch enlarging your living-room
remember who took away the stones.
If you pile up your firewood correctly
remember how I helped you place it.
If you think about convivial summer dinners
remember our beautiful evenings.
If you fail to forgive
remember those last words to you.
I find myself higher than the Himalayan mountains
– my oxygen is God Himself.
My works will live apart from me:
in your home, in your heart, I’ll always be near.
The following year two friends, Brian and Mary, arranged for a bench in memory of Fabio to be placed near Gombereto.
This prompted the following from me – little did I know that the next year Brian would be gone from us too.
FABIO LUCCHESI – HIS BENCH – (IN MEMORIAM)
Let none dare sit upon this wooden bench
who in their hearts show any bitterness
but only those who in their souls can clench
the good that pardons all who will transgress.
As the man whose name lives for evermore
among these hills, among these living woods;
whose honest work spells out one word “amor”,
whose simple life embraced all brotherhoods.
And as you gaze upon the dying sun,
and as the twilight falls upon the flock
may you feel that you and the world are one
and that you are as steadfast as a rock.
For such is he that was and still will be:
just sit yourself down here and you will see.
FABIO LUCCHESI – LA SUA PANCA – (IN MEMORIAM) I
Su questa panca di legno non sieda nessuno
che nel suo cuore conserva qualche rancore,
ma solo chi, nell’anima sua, nutre bontà
ed il perdono per quanti commettono errore.
Come l’uomo il cui nome sempre sarà
ricordo vivo fra queste colline e verdi boschi
e al cui lavoro fu eco la parola” amore”,
la cui vita semplice ha abbracciato ogni fratellanza.
E quando guardi fisso là dov’è il tramonto,
ed il crepuscolo cala sopra le greggi
che tu possa sentire l’unione tua col mondo
e che come roccia saldo il tuo cuore regga.
Così è colui che era ed ancor sarà:
qui siedi, solo, e vedrai, per sempre.
Who really knows where the time goes, I wonder…….
Thinking of you, dear Fabio. Ten years have gone since you left us for a better place. Why it is that the best people are always the first to go?