Giovanni Di Stefano A9460CW HMP Highpoint, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 9YG
29 December 2016
Letter to My Father: – Michele Di Stefano 1927 – 2006
Well its ten ruddy years eh since you have not been around. If it were me my wife would say ‘missing’ but you were in life much different to me. Hey, do you remember when I was a teenager I used to criticise you because in the 1960’s you had a great chance to be a mega millionaire with ‘papa-nonno’ and his family, and you rejected it? Boy did I give you some stick over that, calling you all sorts of terrible names, but you know what? Damn it, you were right at the time. I never got the chance (well I did but I never took it) to say I am so sorry, but I guess sorry after the event is not worth very much, but dad I am so sorry I got you wrong.
You see it’s not important to be a millionaire, it is important to dedicate time to your family and friends, and live as stress free as possible, so the short time you are on this earth you make it worthwhile. Jesus dad you were right, but it’s only after you went away that I realised it and if the truth were told, after, I aged a bit…a good bit. Hey, though, do you remember once in the car, the white Rolls Royce in the early 1980’s that I said to you, that money makes you happy, and you said it does not, and I then said ‘OK giss a million and I will prove you right.’ We had a good laugh, but I always got the feeling that you did not really understand what I was all about.
But look I simply have to clear one thing up in case you were wondering. On 29 December 2006 you were brutally taken away from me and mum and I found out in the afternoon. Look dad at the same time you know I was defending Saddam Hussein, and was due in Court in Wilmington in USA to get a stay of execution. My colleague went for me, and I was in Rome as usual directing everything. That morning you and I spoke as we did all mornings about the usual superficial ‘cazzate’ and then I had hundreds of calls from journalists about Saddam and what was going on.
My cousin Giampiero called me to give me the terrible news. Hey you know at first I thought it was his father who had died not you but when I realised it was you I had to make an instant decision. You see dad I had in the United States a court case trying to save Saddam and you in Petrella Tifernina dead. Mum told me to come the next day, or the day after, because she would deal with everything with your grandson Anthony. He is a great boy you know dad, you would be so proud of him as I am. He did a lot even though you and he had passed over somewhat difficult times. Well, you are his grandfather and two generations separate you.
I chose to stay in Rome and deal with the Saddam situation, because at the time he was still alive. I did my best dad to keep him alive, I really did, but it was the will of Bush, Blair and, sad to say, even Berlusconi to make sure Saddam was executed. In the last ten years dad all those involved have paid a big price for what they did, but you will have seen that from above and, I hope you will understand and forgive me for not coming to Petrella straight away. That night dad I had nearly 400 phone calls but I forced myself to sleep because I had failed you and Saddam and probably also myself.
In the morning I drove down to the village with my phone going mad and, my giving interviews and, even when I walked behind your coffin on my way to the cemetery, the media only wanted to know about my reaction on Saddam being executed despite my valiant attempt to keep him alive.
That day dad three of us died. You, Saddam and me, except that I became a walking target and as good as gone. Oh not physically dad, oh no you see the State does not do that to its own. No, no, it just goes after you and kills your soul and spirit. Well, I guess you figured me out just before you went away, and whatever you had not guessed you know now because you have seen all.
Let me tell you about what has happened dad over the past ten years. Well, Anthony has another child called Giorgio. OK mum is not so happy because she would have wanted him called as me but look what the hell does it matter? Surely all that counts is that all the children are in good health. In any case he is a GDS and born in Petrella Tifernina so, good luck to Giorgio when he goes through passport control in years to come.
Your other grandson Michele…Jees I forget that boy likes to be called Michael, I swear to God one day I am going to buy Mike a long firearms ladder so as he can get off his high horse…no, but, he is also a good boy, but in many ways he has a few issues with me that go back, a bit like I had with you but they will pass, well to get to the point Mike has a lovely little boy called Sebastian James and, yes, I don’t have to tell you that mum is also annoyed that he did not call Sebastian as me but again who gives a hoot? I remember when Mike was born I called Michele Santino…hell I hate having to make admissions but you now can see and know all from up there…so, that I got in favour with you and my grandfather. If I remember well you gave me two grand for calling my son as you, and my grandfather also chipped in which was a nice little wedge in 1979. Oh, gosh the skullduggery makes Machiavelli look a dilettante eh?
Hey, dad have you met any good people up there? Did you get to see your grandfather and dare I say your father? Have you met any famous people like Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler…wow, wow dad stop shouting at me, I can hear you now say, I am crazy calling them famous. We must laugh always dad, eh?
Your favorite Anna has two other children now, one called Sterling like Sterling Moss, well you may not have really heard much about him, because you are a football person not racing, but anyway I call him ‘Euro’ because I refuse to accept anything English which is damned silly, because in many ways I am more ruddy English (grrrrrrrrr) and a beautiful little girl called Penelope. Now mum is not at all annoyed with Anna because she is a girl and, in Petrella style, it is the father of the father that you should re-name. So Anna is very happily married, well her husband is married and Anna is happy…hahaha bet you didn’t know I was a comic. Do you remember when you came to court with me one day at Croydon before Judge Cook, on a bail application, and I said there was more chance of finding an Arab at a Bar Mitzvah than my client running away, and Judge Cook laughed so much you told me afterwards that I was turning the court into a circus.
We had some great times though dad didn’t we? I hope I have not disappointed you too much? You know I have a job to do, and you sort of guessed it in 1985 and again when I went to Iraq, and when you and mum had your 50th wedding anniversary, I must be honest with you dad, it was the only time I felt that you were truly proud of me, but then why would you be proud before? But that day I was what I always wanted to be, daddy’s boy. I know that when I was at school once I sent you a letter saying that you had failed me, and that you never played with me, and never held me in your arms when I was young. I am so sorry for that dad. How the…won’t say the word…but how could you have time when you had three jobs just so I could get the best education? You however, were a …. won’t say that word… a great, great, great grandfather and I have realised 61 years on, a great, great, great father too in all the ways that I have failed my family.
You see I used money, and what I term check book generosity a phrase taught to me by Richard Burton…yes Richard Burton…in my quest at being a father. You see dad I also had no time so I used objects, chattels and possessions to buy my children. The exception being Gianluca who did get a lot of my time and so he is different to the others.
The problem with check book generosity is that if the bank refuses at some stage to pay the check you get into a mess. So dad I don’t blame either of my elder children for having a different attitude towards me. You only reap what you sow as they say.
Now about mum. Well, she is 80 years of age. She outlived you and, lived longer and, doing OK. Of course, all she wants is for me to go to Italy and I will, but I have to be honest dad I really could have been there in 2013, but chose to complete my job and I did a great job too. In the greater sphere of things, I guess, it really is insignificant when you think that there are 8 billion people in the world, but you know me dad, I gave my word to complete a task and I did it, only now to be f….ooops.. messed around by those I work for. No problems though dad I will see this out. Anyway, mum is OK and, of course, she misses you, because you were not just her husband but also her best friend and you know what? In all the time I know you never once laid a finger on mum even though at times she drove you crazy.
No dad you have been a great husband and friend to mum, and a great father to me and superb grandfather and great grandfather to Dylan. You are never forgotten because you were different to your father as I am different to you. That is what it is all about. We are all different.
Well, dad I am the closest blood relative to you today, so I guess I speak for us all in this much extended family. We all miss you and still love you. I have not yet shed a tear for you, because, if I do, it sort of confirms some kind of finality. Good people like you never die so I refuse any tears. I do though on behalf of all of us wish you love and happiness watching over all of us.
At some stage I will see you dad, as all of us must, but I hope you will forgive me when I say I want to try and extend our next meeting, as long as possible, and I promise I will be good in the meantime.
Lots and lots of love dad from all of us
Written by Giovanni Di Stefano edited and published by CB
NB: Some images retrieved from Google, will remove at owner’s request.