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My brother-in-law Zed rang me and asked if I would do the eulogy.
I’m not going to lie, this is not an easy task.
Maria was a great woman.
A loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, great aunty, niece and friend.
So it’s appropriate that she has a top notch eulogy, with a top notch presenter.
I’m sorry Maria, they picked me to do this.
Maria was born in Perth on the 9th of April 1964.
Her parents were Giuseppe and Cristina Formato who were both born in Naples, Italy.
Naples is where the pizza came from.
Maria is the 3rd of 4 children.
She has 2 older brothers named Gus and Mario, and 1 younger, handsome and favourite brother named Martin.
Maria and I go back 50 years.
She is just 2 years older than me.
I remember one day, on the way to primary school, I was walking about 50 meters in front of her and a bunch of kids tried to take my bag.
Before I knew it Maria was there, swinging her arms and protecting me, as I watched the kids fled.
Maria may seem soft on the outside, but she is very tough on the inside, as she has proven especially over the last 18 months.
I remember another day when we were in the back yard playing.
Yes the back yard, as we didn’t have internet in those days.
Maria was on the swing and I went into the garage to play with dad’s wine bottles.
Unfortunately, I dropped one and cut my arm and wrist.
Blood squirted all over my white t-shirt.
Luckily Maria was there and called our mother who carried me to the doctors to have stitches.
As a child growing up, Maria was always happy and laughed heartily at any hint or sign of humour.
When Maria was about 8 years old, her oldest brother Gus asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up, she replied “everything”.
Maria was always happy to be among her family and close friends.
She loved people.
She even loved animals, having guinea pigs and rabbits as pets.
Maria also loved school, always studied conscientiously and did very well in her exams.
Maria even inspired me to study.
We often met in the kitchen for a coffee break and chat.
Maria went on to study pharmacology and became a pharmacist.
I remember the great times we had going out for dinner with her pharmacy friends, like John and Chin.
Maria loved sport and after her two older brothers suffered achilles tendon leg injuries playing soccer, she did her bit by later also suffering an achilles tendon injury, playing netball, as in those days girls didn’t play soccer.
Maria loved music, with ABBA being one of her favourite bands.
She also played the piano accordion.
Maria also loved partying.
Maria worked at Royal Perth hospital for 26 years and then Fiona Stanley hospital for about 2 years.
Maria loved her job and had the opportunity to attend conferences where she would bring home all sorts of goodies like fancy pens, highlighters, paper weights and of course samples of medication.
Whenever I was sick I didn’t need to go to the pharmacy.
I just went into Maria’s room and helped myself.
I remember one day when our mother was suffering from severe back pain and needed morphine.
Maria came out to the back yard, where I was, holding the syringe with some left over morphine in it.
We had pigeons at the time and I vaguely remember Maria suggesting we give them some to see what happens.
Luckily for them we never did.
Several years later Maria met Zed and I understand Zed proposed 3 times before Maria said yes.
They went on to have 3 beautiful children named Jason, Melissa and Anthony of whom Maria was extremely proud of.
They travelled overseas as a family and created wonderful memories.
In 2013, Maria had a special holiday to Canada with her daughter Melissa.
Maria made such a positive influence on people.
She really cared about people.
Here’s an example of a message I received the other day from someone in Italy.
“Dear Martin, I have already known…I cannot find the right words, may be they don’t exist..I can only say that I’ve seen Maria just an afternoon in my life and I could never forget her…only a special person can leave such a deep sign in me…despite of distance and time…my prayers are with you and with your whole family.. she really didn’t deserve this destiny in such a young age…I will miss her too ..ti abbraccio, Carolina”
18 months ago we discovered that Maria had a tumour on her brain.
Maria gracefully accepted what she had and just proceeded with a positive attitude and fighting spirit.
I remember being at the hospital the night before her operation.
She was happy and laughing.
I couldn’t believe it.
Maria knew something.
She told me she could see everything clearly, as if someone just turned on the lights.
Maria knew she would get through the operation and she did.
After the operation Maria was looking forward to a speedy recovery so she could go back to work because she loved what she was doing and the people she worked with.
Maria was very passionate about her work.
I understand that the research Maria and her team did, cracked the code in determining which drug to give a lung transplant patient in order to increase their chances of survival.
It was based on their metabolism rate.
Maria told me that Fiona Stanley hospital had approved funding to further this research.
Maria was very pleased when she heard this.
Maria’s passions have been her love of family and friends, her work in hospitals as a pharmacist and home cooking, a lot of it learnt from her favourite aunty Genoeffa, who lives in Italy, but spent 3 summer months with Maria, earlier this year.
Some of the dishes they cooked were potato based pizza, melanzani (egg plant), miaz (rice pudding) and tarelli (hard, life ring shaped biscuits).
Not only did Maria help crack the code in her work, I believe she cracked the code to life.
Maria understood that everything happens for a reason and for your greater good.
That’s why she was so accepting of her condition and whatever would be, but still put up a fight.
Maria was happy, authentic and never complained.
I believe Maria fulfilled her mission here on earth.
I want to acknowledge Zed for the incredible work he did in caring for Maria and the kids, especially during the last 18 months.
I also want to acknowledge how well Jason, Melissa and Anthony dealt with the situation whilst studying and facing exams.
Also the good work done by the hospital staff and home carers, which includes my brother Gus and Zed’s sister Marina.
Thanks also to Ida for being there at the hospital, especially at the critical times.
Even though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted.
Maria, in my eyes, was a winner because she fought till the end and never gave up.
She did her best to stay.
Now she is with our father Giuseppe and nephew Steven.
Maria is no longer in pain.
The pain we feel is a sign that Maria did good in this world and this pain will help us build muscle and give us the strength so we can go on and do good ourselves.
We are grateful that Maria was a part of our life.
She has shown us what a good human being is all about.
We love her and we will miss her but this is not the end, this is the beginning of the next chapter.
Maria will always be in our heart.
I can hear Maria say “it is what it is, grieve if you must, but don’t stay there.”
Maria told me that she wanted her life to be a celebration.
She wanted to be remembered for how she lived.
Maria would say “If something troubles you, let it go. Just go with the flow. Everything will be okay.”
Maria’s passing really affected me.
I want to be a person like Maria.
If I could be half the good person that she was, I would be a happy man.
On behalf of my family I want to thank you for showing up today.
Your support is very much appreciated.
Let’s rejoice in the memories of Maria Formato Pusic.