Appreciation - Charles Miceli

“When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Having had the privilege to work closely with Charles for almost seven years, I can only vouch for just a small of proportion of the lives that he had laid his gentle touch upon. His career in the social field, in fact, spanned far longer than those last seven years before his retirement.

‘Chalie’ (as he was known to his friends and colleagues) was a quiet but tireless champion of the cause of whoever found himself in some sort of disadvantage, be it social, economic, legal, psychological or whatever else.

A gentle & compassionate man, whose level of tolerance of human frailities flabbergasted all those who surrounded him. Unassuming, grounded and as down to earth as they make them, Charles never forgot the poverty and hardships that he lived through as a boy. He used to share such stories with me whenever we would be driving around on some work-related errand or on the way home from work.

His anecdotes and his attitude in general were often peppered with touches of witty humour which, in themselves, would help defuse tense situations often faced in that line of work. One thing, however which would always manage to bring a smile to his face was his family, particularly his beloved grand-children of whom he was so proud. I can still hear him narrate stories of what his grand-daughter had been up to and how his little grand-son would go about playing on his computer.

I dare say that Chalie’s virtues of patience, altruism and care will have touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people. He was a known face wherever he went. A typical visit to the Corradino Correctional Facilities with Chalie would generally see him being called by name and stopped to be talked to by most of the inmates we would come across. “Chalie this and Chalie that...”.

And a scheduled ninety-minute visit would end up taking well over twice the allotted time. Once we left, however, he would invariably tell me that at least we had done our duty for that day. Not that he would not follow up on what he had been told, because many times, he was to be found devising ways and means to make life a bit easier for the inmates and their families.

Finally, probably a less known aspect of Charles’ nature, was his intellectual dimension. Charles was a self-taught intellectual who ‘devoured’ all sorts of literature. His realm was not the glory of some academic ivory tower, however he could easily hold his ground whenever philosophy, politics, literature or any other such subject was being discussed. Teasingly I used to tell him that he had no difficulty “biex jiddisputa mad-dutturi”.

As we bid farwell to our friend and mentor, may we assure his wife Pauline, his daughter Vanessa and the rest of his family, that, although Chalie might be physically absent, his memory will live on for long in the many hearts he touched.

Rest in peace, Chal!

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