Ro­mance blooms af­ter tragedy

ME - - Front Page - Visit to view the Grossi fam­ily’s dig­i­tal story by Liz Ar­cus.

If you be­lieve, all things are pos­si­ble.

It is this phi­los­o­phy on life that united Mooroopna’s Michelle O’Bree and Michael Grossi, cre­at­ing an un­break­able bond and an un­likely love story about cre­at­ing your own magic.

It was 1996 when the cou­ple first met. Af­ter re­turn­ing from a tour of the United States, Michelle was look­ing for a change of di­rec­tion, and she de­cided to try her hand at home care.

She went to an in­ter­view and that is where she first crossed paths with Michael, who had sus­tained an ac­quired brain in­jury years ear­lier which left him with lim­ited mo­bil­ity and con­fined to a wheel­chair.

“From the time that I met him I was quite fas­ci­nated by him, he was such an in­spir­ing per­son,” Michelle said.

“I had heard the story of what had hap­pened to him but I didn’t click straight­away that, ‘Oh, this was that guy.’ ” >>> 18

Michael was as­saulted at a night club where he was work­ing as a glass run­ner in 1991, leav­ing him with life-threat­en­ing in­juries which changed his way of life for­ever, but not his te­na­cious spirit.

Michael’s men­tal abil­i­ties re­main in­tact, de­spite the sever­ity of his phys­i­cal in­juries. He uses a speech-gen­er­at­ing de­vice to talk.

“Michael doesn’t hold grudges from the as­sault, he just wanted to get on with his life, he didn’t have any self-pity,” Michelle said.

“He could han­dle what hap­pened to him, he re­ally could — he is very tough men­tally.”

Michelle said it was those at­tributes that at­tracted her to­wards Michael, and over the years the pair be­came good friends.

Af­ter a while the sparks started to fly, but Michelle knew with Michael’s dis­abil­ity, build­ing a re­la­tion­ship wasn’t a flip­pant thing that

could just be done, and she thought long and hard about it.

“In the end I thought, ‘You know what? Life is too short’ and we started dat­ing about two years af­ter we met,” she said.

Michael summed up his feel­ings for Michelle in just one word — he loves “ev­ery­thing” about her.

The cou­ple was en­gaged seven years later, and mar­ried not long af­ter at an in­ti­mate wed­ding cer­e­mony in a chapel at Mt Bulla with 25 close friends and fam­ily in 2006.

“Michael’s adop­tive mother had passed away, and my fa­ther passed away when I was five,” Michelle said.

“My own mother was un­well and I re­ally wanted her to be there at my wed­ding, I wanted her to give me away.

“The day was just gor­geous, we danced to ’80s songs and had the venue set up with ta­bles in a horse­shoe, look­ing out the win­dows to

The gar­den just has lovely mem­o­ries, this was my fam­ily home when I was a child, my dad planted most of the es­tab­lished stuff and I love gar­den­ing. I see a flower or smell some­thing and it re­minds me of my child­hood. That is some­thing I want for Skyla, that she will see some­thing and go,‘Oh that re­minds me of home or Mum and Dad’.

— Michelle O’Bree Grossi

the misty rain, it was awe­some — I didn’t want it to end.”

Af­ter the wed­ding, the cou­ple prayed for a child; two years later they wel­comed their now seven-year-old daugh­ter, Skyla, to the world.

Michael shares a close bond with his daugh­ter, de­scrib­ing her as love­able, cheeky and some­times even a lit­tle bit pig-headed.

Goul­burn Val­ley pho­tog­ra­pher Liz Ar­cus pho­tographed the fam­ily and cre­ated a dig­i­tal story for Skyla to cher­ish in years to come.

“We wanted some­thing for her to look back on, to see her par­ents and our con­nec­tion,” Michelle said.

Liz said when Michelle con­tacted her to in­quire about mak­ing a dig­i­tal story of their fam­ily, she was de­lighted to hear they were tak­ing the time to do this.

“This is a fast world and peo­ple so of­ten don’t take the time or know of the im­por­tance to pre­serve in the form of fam­ily photos,” Liz said.

“The way I pho­to­graph is to cap­ture a slice of time in their lives at play and do­ing what they love to do to­gether. I think it is a beau­ti­ful story, just like any love story I get to hear about.

“There are many ways peo­ple form a re­la­tion­ship, and I love learn­ing how peo­ple meet and how they live their lives to­gether — I love learn­ing from all peo­ple.”

Story: Rhi­an­non Gavalakis Pho­tog­ra­phy: Liz Ar­cus Pho­tog­ra­phy

Pic­ture: Boss Pho­tog­ra­phy

Michelle and Michael will celebrate their ninth wed­ding

an­niver­sary this year.

Michelle , Michael and their daugh­ter Skyla, in their gar­den.


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