LOVE CONQUERS ALL
Romance blooms after tragedy
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.”
Michelle and Michael will celebrate their ninth wedding
anniversary this year.
Michelle , Michael and their daughter Skyla, in their garden.