Remembering Lanfranco... A Eulogy from his brother.
The Gaglione family and Rebecca, would like to thank everyone for their support and affection over the longest week of our lives. You have all helped us through this difficult time as we try to rebuild the great loss of our beloved brother, Lanfranco. As I look around at the amount of people here to pay their last respects, I am so proud that he was my brother and that he touched so many peoples lives.
On the 17 June 2011, I had the best moment of my life. Both of my brothers were my best men and they were singing at my wedding for our first dance. It was like something dreams were made of and I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I was hoping one day, that I’d be able to return the favour and be Lan’s best man but life is full of mysteries and God had better plans for him.
So this is the speech I owe you, to the best man I ever knew.
Over the past few days, I have heard hundreds of stories from friends and loved ones reminiscing the good times they all experienced with Lan. I feel it was no coincidence that in our house, I have come across all the diaries he had written, I feel that Lan wanted me to share with you his last memories and that he has provided me with the strength to talk to you all today.
Lan was a musical genius. He was born to play. When he was young, I remember trying to teach him how to play the piano. He picked it up so quick its as if the piano was always meant to be with him. He had the most amazing gift, to be able to listen to any song and then play it almost instantly. I remember one Mothers Day when Lan was about ten or eleven, I was trying to learn one of my mum’s favourite songs, it took me over three weeks and I had to replay the song over a hundred times. After I had learnt it, Lan came along, listened to it once and instantly played it back to me. I was so frustrated and at the same time amazed at how gifted this young boy was. He didn’t know the chords or notes he was playing, but he was able to just listen and channel this music through his fingertips. As he grew older, his love for music increased and it wasn’t long before he started composing his own songs and joining bands. From the Echo’s to MOT to the Collective and MOT he loved being with those bands, they were like a second family. Lan sometimes found it hard to express his feelings and I believe he used music as an outlet, from writing beautiful lyrics to composing equisite melodies he was a true musical genius.
Lan loved football. Like me and secretly my mother, he was a fanatical Liverpool fan who enjoyed playing football as much as watching it. When we were younger, we used to change our living room into a football pitch and play two vs two with a sponge tennis ball. It used to drive my mum crazy, the house would shake like a stampede of elephants had run through the building and we would constantly break my Mum’s ornaments. Growing up our home was always full of friends, on many occassions they would ask our Mum to adopt them so that they could become a Gaglione brother. Our house was always full of laughter and most importantly food and if you didn’t eat fast enough, one of the Gaglione’s would finish your plate for you.
Every Sunday at Downhills Park, we would play an epic football game for over five hours, with many of the people who are here today. After the game, Lan would be the one who would not let us leave to have our Mum’s Sunday roast until we had done fifty kick ups. Sometimes it would get so dark we couldn’t even see the ball but he would force us to stay until we had completed his task. One of my proudest football moments was when all three of us played together for Downhills Park FC in the local Sunday League and did play together for many years. Lan used to play centre back and being the perfectionist he is, he would study videos of great footballers of the past like Baresi, Moore, Maldini and use them to help with his game. I tried to get Lan to play a little nastier, to take a few leaves from the Gaglione book of defending, but he never did, he could never argue or hurt anyone, he was a true gent always. From kicking a ball in our mum’s living room as boys, to playing together on a Sunday league pitch as men, it opitimised how close we were as brothers throughout our lives.
Lan was a baron. To him the word Baron carried a whole different meaning. A baron for Lan is the ultimate pursuit for perfection of a given subject and to complete the task at hand to its maximum potential. Lan applied this to everything he did, from music to school, from football to computer games and from fitness to cycling. He would research his subject to the nth degree, assess the amount of permutations and conquer every outcome. He was a perfectionist and of course the ultimate baron.
Lan was an inspiration. “We could all be a little more like Lan” has been one of the most common phrases I have heard over the last week. Lan achieved so much within his 26 years. He was a great academic, a head boy at his Sixth Form and flew through his GCSE’s, A-Levels and Degree. Me and Piero would always be competing to beat each other with our grades, but Lan just silently went about his way and achieved much higher grades than both of us but with such modesty. As Lan’s love for music grew, he wasn’t content in just playing the piano, he wanted to play all the instruments, the guitar, the bass, the drums even a yukelele. When Lan decided that he wanted to lose weight, he went from being nearly 20 stone to being the most fit, agile and lean person I knew. He raised so much money for charity by putting his body through the hardest tests, one of the hardest being the London Triathlon he completed last year in almost olympic time.
Lan was always so generous. Although he never had much money, what little money he had he would spend on other people. From buying presents to giving money to charity he would always put other people ahead of his own wants. One of Lan’s best friends Sam, told me of a story that even the smallest children couldn’t help but be affected by Lan’s love and affection. After only meeting Sam’s nephew once, he forgot about his actual uncles and would ask where’s Uncle Lan? He would have made the best uncle to the baby that me and Danielle are expecting and it tears me up inside that he will never see our children. The only light that is shining at the end of our tunnel is that this baby is due on Lan’s birthday and I can’t help but feel that some things in life are just meant to be.
Lan was one of two halves, he and Rebecca were soulmates and have been together for over five years. They were always going on mini adventures together whether it be romantic trips to the country or enjoying their favourite foods. In their usual selfless way, they would always bring something back so that we could all share in their trip. They would often label the food in the fridge to stop Gianpiero or my Dad from eating the whole lot themselves. They were always together, and Lan would always put her first. Although Lan is now at peace, he will be always with you and so will the Gaglione family. Rebecca, you are one of us.
Lan was an angel. I’ve never known anyone with a bigger heart. He always had time for people and he was selfless. Lan touched people’s hearts like no one else. Even people who had only met him for five minutes would comment on how genuine, how kind, how sweet he was. He had a talent at making everyone feel welcome, he would always find the one person in the room who was alone and comfort them. Everything Lan did, he did with a smile on his face, an infectious smile that could light up any room. A smile that embraced all who met him, a smile that comforted all who needed him.
From reading the hundreds of facebook posts to meeting with some of you over the last week, I have lost count at the amount of people who say Lan had saved them from depression, inspired them to be something, listened to them when they were in desperate need, comforted them when they needed a friend and loved them when they needed it most. Lan like Jesus, could save everyone else but when the time came he could not save himself, as God had bigger plans for him.
Lan is at peace now, and he would of wanted us to carry on together. Although the reason he has left us is still unclear and may always remain a mystery, one message that the Gaglione family want to pass on is that its ok to talk. Its ok for men to cry, its ok to feel the pressures of modern life, that there are always other answers to lifes most difficult questions. We are all suffering by the void left by our beloved Lanfranco, but by channeling our pain and grief into something positive we can make a difference. The tormenting question “what could we have done to change it?” has now become “what can we do to change it”. Young men taking their own lives is the single biggest killer of that age group with over four thousand families each year suffering in the same way as us today. If everyone here can help us with our cause and we can together save only one other life from being taken away, one less family from going through this heartache, one less community from being inconsolable, we would be happy. That is why we are supporting the chairty CALM who are trying to raise awareness for this cause. I want Lan’s name to be remembered not just from those who knew and loved him, but from people all over England, that this one special person, single handedly inspired a community to change societies views on the taboo that is depression. Donations can be made at the baskets at the back so please help us with this cause. We will need all of your support as we have some really big plans for the future.
Lan touched so many people within his short time on this earth. Reading the hundreds of heart warming messages on facebook convey how he was loved by all who met him. I want to share with you all, one of these messages:
God saw you were getting tired
And it was not meant to be,
So he put his arms around you
And whispered,''come to me''.
With tearful eyes we watched you
And saw you pass away,
Although we loved you dearly
We could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating
Hard working hands at rest
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes the best.
Goodbye my brother, my friend, my angel. You were too good for this earth. I know you are now at peace and we will never, ever forget you.