Casa Fin Family Stories: Loreta's Story - Loreta Fin

loreta 01loreta 03I am the 2nd of Giuseppe and Patricia’s 8 children. I was always a little “rounder” than Anna, Rita or Isabella and from the age of 4, I was made to wear the most tragic collection of bad spectacles ever seen on this earth. (Yes, you can’t miss me in all those early family pics). To top it off, before I was 5, Rita knocked out my 2 front teeth with a broom, tho I thpoke with a lithp for ages! Put all of that together and you’d think you’d end up with an insecure, quiet, shy little girl. Not on your life! I soon learned that becoming the class clown was the way to distract others from all these unfortunate traits Despite annoying my poor parents and teachers, it got me lots of attention – a rare commodity in a big family - and I even ended up being Sport Captain and School Captain of St Ursula’s College, Sydney.

My earliest memories of Dad were that we laughed LOTS. Whether it was playing “sega sega la gamba rizza” (see family songs and stories), or being rendered totally breathless by one of dad’s incredible twirly-whirlies. We always looked forward to him coming home when he finally finished work and didn’t have one of his many weekly meetings. Dad was always
singing. He would teach us how to conjugate Italian verbs through song, and we always sang in the car on the way to “there and back to see how far it is”. Dad could never remember our names, but he would jumble them up. I was Ta-lo-re, and Isa was Bella-isa etc – he still does this with the grandkids. I remember being really impressed with how strong Dad was. He was a giant and I recall when he was doing the landscaping for the house in Arncliffe, he would just pick up massive boulders and shift them around the yard. He would then go to the fridge, grab a tallboy of Tooheys, down the lot in one breath and go back out and continue shifting boulders.loreta 02
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Growing up as an Italian kid in Sydney had its hazards. In fact, when the nuns in primary school told us “we don’t speak that language here,” Rita and I had decided that we would NOT speak Italian any more. We also recall spending our weekly pocket money to buy a girl at school a packet of violet crumbles every week, in order to prevent her telling everyone that she had discovered where we went every Saturday morning: “I saw youse going to that WOG SCHOOL”! It wasn’t until many years later, when Paul Hogan came up with the characters of Luigi the Unbelievable and Maria, his chunky assistant, that I was able to capitalise on the humourous side of being Italian. One of my school friends and I dressed up as these characters in aloreta 5 school show and it brought the house down. Dad thought it was hilarious – even though he didn’t recognize that it was his own daughter dressed up as Luigi. In fact, long before the movie Wog Boys came out, we had learnt that calling ourselves “wogs”, almost as a term of endearment, diffused the situation with the Skippies (Aussies). We had always been proud of our Italian heritage, but now, it was “cool” to be Italian. I thank Dad for that pride and for never giving up on keeping our Italian heritage alive.
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After school, I went to the Conservatorium of Music. Music has been my life-long passion, even though I soon found that classroom music teaching was not going to light my fire. Instead, I specialised as an Instrumental Music teacher and conductor and now write music for school ensembles.

Surprising just about everyone, I married in 1980, at the age of 19. Pierre Emery was a cute cellist, whom I used to make eyes at across the orchestra – yes, I finally ditched the specs. We had Claire in 1982 and Nick in 1983 and our little family moved to Brisbane, where Pierre had a job in the orchestra and the kids and I had fun painting, reading, visiting art galleries and playing in the park. Unfortunately, the marriage did not survive, but I’m happy to say that we have a lovely relationship with Pierre and his wife Leone. Claire and Nick adore them and their half-brothers, Douglas and Jacques, who live in Sydney.loreta 07
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I moved back to Sydney and in 1985, I met an even cuter Clarinetist, named Stephen Williams and we have been inseparable ever since. We moved to Brisbane (AGAIN!) and married in 1988. Apart from being the resident computer-guru of the family, Stephen now runs the Music Department and I run the String Program at Somerville House Girls’ School in Sth Brisbane.
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Claire and Nick have both lived overseas for the past few years. I miss them terribly and I hope they will soon see the light and return to the best place on earth. Meanwhile, Nick is living in the Netherlands with his beautiful lady, Lindsay. Claire came home in 2008, only to meet and marry a Frenchman, named Laurent Pavailler. Although they are still traveling the world, they gave me the best Mother’s Day present I have ever received – my gorgeous Grand daughter, Alséa Lily Pavailler-Fin. I was at her birth, on May 10 2009 and she is such a treasure to me and Stephen. We are relishing the roles of Nonna and Nonno more than we could have ever imagined! (Current at May 9 2010)

Happy 80th Birthday, Dad!