Giovanni died, and other losses. November 18-December 3, 2019 (part 1)
When I departed for Morocco, there were 4 people especially, that I feared I would not see again, due to their health problems. However, my dear friend, Giovanni Gaudio was not among them. Most of my friends have either met Giovanni or at least heard me speak of him. I first met Giovanni, and his wonderful wife, Sheri, when they operated a restaurant in the heart of Fair Play, the location of my Mellowood Winery. I would brave the Friday night traffic through the I80 corridor, between the Bay Area/Sacramento/Foothills, just for the pleasure of their company and his food. I liked to sit at the little bar near the kitchen. There was no menu, just “How hungry are you? Anything you don’t like?”. They would host a Monday night for locals, where all the wineries would bring a bottle of wine to share.
Even after they closed the restaurant, to focus on private events and writing (he was working on his third cookbook), he would continue to cook for me; winery events at Mellowood or in their amazing kitchen, and even doing events for me in Oakville for Tierra Roja. We did joint charity events, including hosting the owners of the 49ers and their Foundation at my home.
Giovanni’s food was beautiful and delicious, but what made the events special was the man himself. He spent years researching and preserving traditional Italian dishes, and every one had a story, a history. Twice a year he and Sheri would take small groups on culinary trips to Italy, and Giovanni spent the recent summers working at a small restaurant in a National Park, in the Italian Alps.
Before I sold the winery, he would drop in, at least once a weekend. He would visit with the guests, or sometimes just me, and lift our days with his wonderful stories; of small food purveyors in Italy, of 6 years spent living in the Alaskan wilderness, with only his sled dogs for company, and much more. His joyful laugh and impish grin were magical. We shared a love of the Giants and the 49ers. He introduced me, and my wine, to so many lovely people. He and Sheri were planning to visit me in Morocco this June, and I with them in Italy. So many things we will never get to do. I miss him very much. “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain….but I always thought that I’d see you again.”
In a sense, I also lost my host sister at the same moment. I’ve believed she has stolen money from me in the past, and tried to be careful about hiding my backpack. She has always been very forward about visiting every day, searching through all my drawers, even my refrigerator. I have spent too much money taking her places she wanted to go. Whenever I buy something or receive a package from home, she asks me to give her these items. She has asked me for money, but there I have drawn the line. But sadly, I caught her with her hand in my purse. At the moment she made a flimsy excuse, that I pretended to accept. Then, before leaving she broke down crying and asking my forgiveness. I gave it, and told her it must never happen again. But it must change our relationship. The sad thing is she does not need the money, as her family takes care of all her needs, for her and her daughter. She lives in a very nice home, nice clothes and food. Her daughter attends private school and takes karate with the other rich kids, thanks to her brother. The last time we were shopping together, me looking for toothpaste, she bought a watch for her boyfriend. The worst part, she is alone in my room to pray. She won’t consider getting a job, so I have little sympathy. Yet, I do love her and would have had a much harder time here if not for her help and friendship. Just a sad day all around.
I will catch up on the other activities soon.