Sergio's story

We talk to one of our residents about his story and why it's so important for him to be surrounded by beauty in his new home at Bupa Aged Care.

I was born into a land of beauty in the city of Trieste at the North end of the Adriatic Sea. Trieste was a thriving European port city, a cauldron of nationalities full of colour and life. My family spoke Italian, German and Slovenian however during the war my family were forced to let go of their use of Slovenian for safety reasons during the Fascist regime.

Life was hard in those years of youth, due to the political regime and the great depression. My father lost his beautiful photo studio and for 12 years found employment practically unavailable. Finally in 1938 my father obtained a position with the Lloyd Triestino Shipping Company as a photographer on Cruising Ships on the line Trieste to Durban in South Africa. 

This lasted till the beginning of World War II where the ship was blocked before the Suez Canal and had to return to Massaua. At that time it was an Italian Colony where my father was militarised before becoming a prisoner of war until the war ended.

I was 11 at the beginning of the war. My mother, Paula, was very sick and sometimes had to spend weeks in hospital and after school I had to take care of all the chores, washing, cleaning, cooking, sawing and mending. I had to grow up fast because there was no option. 

To survive, my mother was still able find some part time work at the Stock Distillery, then a contract with the government to sew uniforms for the army. My job was sewing the buttons and the holes and for this work I received one cent per each hole or button attached.

My father had brought me some English books in his travels and between reading those and secretly listening to British radio I tried to learn English but with no one to speak with it was practically impossible.

I did enjoyed school and I dreamed of going to college but we needed money to survive so I worked an apprentice fitter and turner while I continued to learn wherever I could.

The war ended, the Tito’s partisans claimed to have liberated the city and for 30 days they brought terror again and I found myself facing the wrong end of a firing squad. I was saved for help given to the partisans during the war, then the Allied Forces took over, the first to arrive were the New Zealanders, things slowly returned to normal.

My father returned from Africa but my mother was in hospital with a terrible typhoid fever. I was 11 when he went away and now at 18 we barely knew each other. The feeling on both sides was strained, the father lost a son, the son lost a father, but love and attachment for each other remained. 

A couple of months later my mother died and the two of us were left behind and our bond grew strong once more.
Elderly man painting
I found work with the British army and my English improved greatly while my father, Pietro, found work with the American Forces as typewriter mechanic. He remarried a year later. He was only 47, still so much life and love to give. 

I decided to look for a more respectable job and in 1948 chose to join the local Venezia Giulia Police Force, which was under the command of the British Forces. Here I served for exactly seven years before requesting to be assigned to the Riot Squad and continued my studies for the admission to the Naval University. 

It is here in Villach, Austria, that I met Miss Hansi Gutmann. Hansi was a very popular soprano who was performing at the time in the Magic Flute by Mozart. She was magical to me and she stole my heart. We became engaged engaged in 1952, and two years later we were married and living in Trieste once more. 

We had a beautiful daughter, Claudia. When Trieste was given to Italy we decided to migrate to Australia. We arrived in Melbourne on Saturday the 20th August 1955 and went to Bonegilla, in Victoria.

I worked for Holden for 56 years whilst also teaching English Classes for migrants up to six nights a week. I stopped teaching in 1982, but it was something I remember fondly. I studied a Bachelor of Art at the Adelaide University, but I didn’t complete it for family reasons. It didn’t stop my love of art though, and I became an avid painter.

I started painting in oil and watercolours regularly after marriage as I don’t like empty walls and I wanted to have beauty surrounding me in my home. Drawing and designing was a passion since I was a boy so it came somewhat naturally to me. I’m a perfectionist, and once I set my mind to drawing or painting something I will not rest until it is done to my satisfaction.

I don’t like to paint for others because art is subjective and I may not capture what they have in their mind. For me it is a personal thing. I enjoy painting and I still do it in my new Bupa home when the mood strikes me. I have enough hobbies at the Bupa Aged home, and I’m never bored. I thank the management for letting me hang some paintings in the corridors of the home, and I hope some people may enjoy them.

Note by Robyn Caruso, General Manager, Bupa Care, Morphettville, SA

Sergio is such a wonderful man and an interesting character. Prior to his admission we learned of his art and we discussed placing some around the home before he even moved in. 

His art is truly wonderful and it makes for a great talking point during our tours for newcomers and their families. It helps them to know we take an interest in the lives of our residents.

Sergio’s room is adorned with his paintings and we have a hallway with about five pieces. It not only brightens up the space but it makes it much more homely for all who live here.
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