Remembering Cesare Tavella

The Cherokee Indians have this saying as a yard stick to measure our lives against and for Cesare this was certainly true. He passed away from a horrific tragic incident on Monday and left the rest of us crying in his wake. We lost a great deal that night – a great friend, colleague, doting father, son, brother, loving boyfriend. He was many things to many people, much-loved, respected and truly dear to all who knew him. If I had called Cesare a great man on his face, he would’ve laughed at me. But he WAS a great man to work with – kind, humble, knowledgeable, with a wicked sense of humor. He was efficient and practical about getting things done. As a professional colleague if you had a problem that you needed to get resolved, he was the person to hand it over to.

Cesare and I met earlier this year when he took over the job of leading PROOFS, our food security project. We hit it off from the very beginning and quickly developed an easy camaraderie. He was that kind of person, he had a way of putting people at ease. A man of his word, he earned trust through his actions. One of his favorite sayings was that ‘we don’t have to like each other but we must respect each other’ and that sums up the way he was with the people around him. The respect that he gave to even the bearers or drivers in his office was telling of the way he treated all people with dignity. He was not impressed by titles, status or hierarchy – he was impressed by how much people would bring to the table and could contribute to improving the lives of others. He had a way of cutting through the bullshit to get to the heart of the matter. He called a spade a spade but was tactful, diplomatic & always had a smile on his face.

As we became friends, I discovered that there was no BS’ing around him, none of the tedious small talks that barely scratch the surface. Our conversations jumped topics, ran deep, was heated, long & would range from our frustration with our work, how change doesn’t happen fast enough, to our weirdest travel experiences, our kooky retirement plans or wildest dreams. He was easy to talk to, to get to know, to let your guard down with. He was so positive with this ‘joie de vivre’ about him that you could not help but be utterly charmed by his enthusiasm for life and all that it had to offer. Decades down the road, Cesare hoped to buy an island to retire to and Kate & I tried our best to convince him to let us live on it as caretakers. The island dream was something that would materialize far into the future but we talked about it like it was right around the corner.

The day he passed away, we exchanged messages back and forth about the long weekend get-away (respite in nature) in which he was supposed to join our group but decided at the last moment that he couldn’t. He teased me about being a city girl for loving the comforts that civilization/technology offers us and declared that my love for air-conditioning is the reason Bangladesh is sinking from climate change and our Island would disappear before we ever get a chance to retire …. “I love to swim but to swim on a permanent basis….”.

We spoke briefly barely an hour or so before the incident, which made it that much more harder for me to wrap my head around the fact that I would not be able to pick up the phone and hear him on the other end anymore. The hours since then has been interminable. Why? How? Who? The what if’s? And in the midst of this crushing grief, this sudden loss of a great person, a friend, I am now confronted by questions from others on what was he like? how will he be remembered?

The answer to that is I want him to be known not for the tragic way his life ended but the incredibly kind, passionate way he had lived & dedicated his life to a cause, to the greater good.

I want him to be remembered as he was – warm, loving, kind, funny, intelligent, a witty gentle old soul. He’s the only Italian I knew who didn’t care for coffee at all but was very specific about how he wanted his pizza. He doted on his daughter, loved his girlfriend and was very close to his family.

I want to remember Cesare the way I had seen him – always relaxed with the creases around his eyes deepened by his smile. He smiled with his heart, it sparkled in his eyes and lighted up all those around him. A truly remarkable human being who gave selflessly of himself to the service of others.

It is incredibly sad that Cesare’s life ended so soon and I cannot put into words how much we will miss him. Cesare was a positive person and would not want us to be sad today. If he were here he would tell us to cheer up, smile and remember all of the great memories we all shared. Even though Cesare may be gone, his memory will live on in all of us forever.

Buddy, you will be sorely missed! May your soul rest in peace … much love from all of us you left behind, to follow in our time.

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(All pictures of Cesare is by Laurent from their joint visit to the PROOFS project in June 2015).

Posted on September 30, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. May his beautiful spirit continue in your life dear Arman ….a touching tribute , thank you , love , megxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Writing is how I process my feelings and when I started writing this… it just tumbled out. All this time I had felt shell shocked, unable & unwilling to process what has happened. Now it’s out. And I am glad that I was able to portray at least some of what he has been to me, to us, to anyone who came in touch with him. Thank you Meg for your very kind comment…. xxx.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Arman, that is just the way I remember Cesare, including the island (I have loads of Proposed Island pictures he used to send me). He was a great person. There are no words…Thanks for writing this, Irma

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Irma, my heartfelt condolence for your loss. These are incredibly difficult times… I pray that you will find the strength to get through them. Much love, hugs & prayers. My thoughts remain with you. Arman.

      Like

  3. Thanks! You have caught it in words! Great guy!
    We miss him! May he rest in peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So well pictured Arman, thank you! Such a beautiful way to share our grief, as many of us
    cannot sit together.

    Like

    • You are right Erica! I wish we could, that we had the chance, to sit together, to hold a proper wake, share stories and celebrate his life together – with wine & laughter. It would have been a nice way to send him off, to say a proper goodbye😦

      Like

  5. Dear Arman, thanks and yes would such a goodbye not be nice and how he would have wanted it! So many people who would want to participate all over the world. Too bad we can not do it but good we can meet though your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I read this just now, Arman. You have kept up Cesare’s spirit and the spirit of everyone else who had the good fortune to know him.

    Like

    • Thank you JW! Cesare was rooting for me to get to Ethiopia and when my faith wavered he would cheer me on & be very encouraging. I will miss his energy, enthusiasm and positivity. At least I did have the chance to tell him that I will be going to Ethiopia, that it was almost final… he was so happy for me. I wish you had met him too, you would’ve loved him.

      Like

  7. Thank you Arman. I’ m an italian friend of Cesare and I want to share your beautiful words six months after

    Liked by 1 person

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