A tall man of few words, Gaetano has been living at Casa San Paolo in Bugibba for the past four years. He moved there when he was faced with the responsibility of taking care of his sick wife Josephine when the couple still lived at home.

“I was scared that something would happen to me before my wife’s health would deteriorate.”

Gaetano’s wife passed away in 2016.

“I wake up every day with a perfect plan in my mind,” Gaetano says. “If I am not busy and there’s nothing I can help with, I usually go for a long walk,” says the 73-year-old from St Paul’s Bay.

He occasionally drives to his sister’s house in Zurrieq to visit. “I take advantage of the fact that I’m still healthy. I have a lot of time on my hands, so I try to make good use of it.”

The home’s active ageing facilitator, Carol Galea, says the place feels empty when Gaetano is not around. “He is a big part of us here and whenever there’s an event coming up, he’s always ready to lend a helping hand.”

The home’s manager, Alain Masson, says Gaetano is very precise and takes pride is all that he does. “We are very lucky to have him as a resident.”

Something is always brewing when Gaetano is around. He takes the organisation and planning of events at the home to heart and has high expectations when a big event at the home is coming up. He also takes it upon himself to organise new events at Casa San Paolo every single year, such as last year’s ‘Festa tal-Irhula’, which was a huge success.

He came up with the names of 17 saints known in Malta, laminated each picture and stuck them on  cardboard pennants, which were hung on the balconies and arches at the residential home. “I created a typical atmosphere, complete with band marches and all. Residents had a lovely time reminiscing about what the village feast was like in their younger days.”

Gaetano is indispensable when it comes to taking care of the chapel and, together with Maria Axiaq, who is also a resident, helps with the celebration of Mass every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. To animate Mass, each time he plays songs from a 170-tune repertoire stored on his computer. These are all old hymns which were sung in the past, “so that residents can be taken back in time when they were younger”.

Whenever help is needed in the dining room before lunchtime, Gaetano is there doing his utmost. He arranges the chairs, sets the tables and helps the residents.

“I dream of something, and right away I turn it into reality. However, this takes time and good planning is the secret to my success. I want to be in control. I’m extremely competitive and was always a perfectionist.”

Gaetano only plans to sit back and relax when his health takes a turn for the worse.

Life at Casa San Paolo wouldn’t be the same without him.