Meet Gwilly, He’s Only 95

If you visit Gwilly at his bungalow where he’s lived for 50 years, he’ll introduce you to his wife, Maria, his wife of over 66 years.

If you visit Gwilly, he’ll be most proud to show you his root cellar where he preserves the fruits and vegetables that he’s lovingly grown in his garden.

If you visit Gwilly, he’ll also show you his wine cellar where he’s been making fine wine for years and years. Maybe you’ll even be treated to a tasting session. His guests, upon leaving his home usually depart with one or two bottles of his best vintage.

If you visit Gwilly in the summer, you surely won’t miss his exquisitely tended flower garden.

Gwilly’s green thumb is obvious, especially when he shows you his latest crop of giant zucchinis.

Of course he’s an excellent bean grower and he turns over his crop to his wife Maria who is super creative in the kitchen. She’ll produce the most exquisite and tasty pasta fagioli. Gwilly is the perfect host and he’ll be happy to serve you.

Gwilly and Maria celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

Hamming it up for the camera.

Don’t think that Gwilly is withering away at the ripe age of 93; still very much a party animal and biker (Gwilly trying out the writer’s Harley).

I suspect by now you’ve come to know that Gwilly is a young man for all his years. Here’s some more information about Gwilly and his life: his full name is Guerino Tirimacco, born 1919 in Italy. As a teenager, he was conscripted into the King’s Army and served in North Africa. He was taken prisoner by the British without much resistance (Gwilly probably heard how well the British treated POWs – Gwilly was a lover, not a fighter). He was subsequently interred on a farm in Britain where he became the owner’s star farmer and “jack-of-all-trades.” He even played on the POW soccer team and competed with local British teams.

As you probably know, most WW II veterans have a war story, or two. Here’s Gwilly’s: when boarding a troop ship in Napoli to transport soldiers to the North Africa front line, a group of nuns were standing at the gangway of the ship handing out St. Anthony prayer cards to each soldier for “heavenly protection.” Gwilly put his card in his wallet and tucked it into the pocket of his uniform jacket.

At the front line, while under enemy fire, he and the rest of his soldier buddies were hunkered down in fox-holes. When the head corporal issued an order for one of his men to scoot to another group, half a kilometer away, to secure a shovel to dig for better protection, Gwilly volunteered. In order to scramble across the desert sand more quickly, he took off his jacket and left it in his fox-hole.

Upon returning with the shovel, he saw that several grenades had exploded right where he and his buddies were hunkered down. Sadly, addition to some human casualties, his jacket was largely destroyed by the blasts…except for the pocket where he had been carrying the prayer card. He continued to wear that jacket until he became a POW.

Although worn thin and tattered, Gwilly still carries his St. Anthony prayer card in his wallet. If you visit Gwilly, he’ll show it to you.

He, Maria and baby daughter Susan emigrated to Canada in 1954 on the SS Constitution (which later sank in 1955). In his working years, Gwilly was a factory and construction worker, house painter and worked at any and everything that would provide food and shelter for Maria and daughter Susan.

In his retirement years, Gwilly volunteered his services and good cheer at the Villa Colombo Senior and Long Term Care Facility, close by his home. A committed music lover, then and now, he still tears up when he listens to Pavarotti and Bocelli.  During this time, while tending his garden, he made friends with a most interesting individual, Frizzi…who happened to be a squirrel. Most every summer afternoon, Frizzi would come to visit – to be fed a few peanuts and shoot the breeze.

Sadly, on January 1, 2017,Gwilly passed away at the tender age of 97. On April 6, 2018, Maria passed at the age of 93. Their passing left a huge hole in the hearts of all who knew them. However, I am so thankful for knowing them for over 35 years. They enriched my life.