«When, about four years ago, Fernando was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) a shiver went down my spine.- Maria said – I was overwhelmed and full of fear. He guessed what I was feeling and whispered to me: “I’m up for it. You’ll see God’ll give us the grace for this really important moment.” I felt myself reborn. I too wanted to stick to God’s plan of love for us. Like this we began the adventure we’re on.
‘After a while Fernando was taken into intensive care because of a respiratory problem, but our calm way of facing the illness and Fernando’s attitude of love for the doctors and nurses changed all the rigidly professional attitudes into something more warm and friendly.
‘The whole Focolare family and the people we’ve met throughout our lives stood by us. We found a real competition of love going on around us: I never had to use public transport, people it take in turns to get me to the hospital and to help with filling in the forms needed to access home care.
‘When we returned home I had to face the problems of daily life caring for Fernando day and night, and I learnt to use the various kinds of life-saving equipment. At night I always have an ear open and often my sleep is broken. But, although I may be a bit tense sometimes, the look of love on Fernando’s face always keeps me going.
‘In the last four years I’ve always felt God as a Father and he touches my life everyday in the most unexpected ways above all through other people. One morning a visiting doctor found me ill in bed and so, after she’d done what she’d come to do, she cooked some soup, put on a wash and fed Fernando.
‘Little things like that happen all the time. One Sunday I ran out of medical gloves and, in that very moment, a neighbour who knew nothing about it turned up with a box of a hundred. The little daily chores get done too, because things happen like someone turns up at the door and says something like: ‘Do you need any bills paying?’
‘Fernando never plays the sick person. He is 87 and what you see in him is joy and openness to everyone. He keeps himself informed and is especially interested in politics and above all in the school of the Political Movement for Unity. He was the mayor of Ghilarza (Oristano) for three terms, the director of the Sardinian Regional Statistical Study Centre, and he is concerned in a special way about young people who he encourages to get involved with politics, saying: “We need to purify our way of thinking.”
‘The illness progresses and takes away the most simple and basic abilities, but he lives this out in a heavenly way, trying to do God’s will with simplicity, just as he did when he was well, and his faith supports all of us around him. If anyone calls to see him and commiserates with him, he says to me later: “They speak about death, but I feel I’m overflowing with life!” and he doesn’t hesitate to tell believers and non-believers alike of his experience and philosophy of life: “I hand myself over completely to God as Jesus did. When I’m scared, I’m not afraid. Fear destroys life”».