On March 16, 2012, 67-year-old LightHouse friend and senior client James Macchi passed away quietly in his home leaving behind his wife of fifteen years, Marsha Macchi, as well as many close friends.
His widow Marsha regaled this writer with happy memories about their life together. Much of what she said made me smile and wish I had known James better, while the love they had for each other stood out as an overriding theme and an example to all married couples. Marsha said, “We made a commitment from day one not to divorce. We swore to work things out. [We always said] if we tended to the garden then we could keep the weeds out.”
Speaking of tending gardens, Marsha talked at length about James’ enthusiasm for gardening. Each week he participated in the LightHouse Gardening Program, nurturing the growing plants and making good use of the harvest when they were ready. According to Marsha, he relished using flowers from the garden to make beautiful flower arrangements and was equally interested in using the vegetables he helped to grow in delicious home-cooked meals.
Although not an early adopter, James was very open to the way in which accessible technology could enhance and fit into his life. He also loved to read braille; so much that he considered himself an “advocate” for the use of braille. When introducing himself to a group, he liked to declare, “My name is James Macchi. I’m a braille-a-holic and proud to be a braille-a-holic.” (As an avid braille reader myself, I say that anyone who claims to be a braille-a-holic is pretty cool in my book.)
James passing was unexpected and he will be sorely missed by all of us at the LightHouse. Here’s what a few staffers had to say about him:
Community Services Program Coordinator Molly Irish said, “He made friends very easily. He hung out with Don Lewinski and Barney Howell mostly and they talked about anything and everything. It was fun listening to them and sometimes you just had to laugh with them. James could also sing; he had a nice singing voice. He would sing with the band. He enjoyed life to its fullest.”
Beth Berenson, coordinator of our Technology Seminar series, said, “I could count on James to get excited about our tech seminars – he was always one of the first to sign up. But more than anything, I always noticed the love between him and Marsha – they were devoted to each other.”
Social Worker Jeff Carlson said, “It was my privilege to have James as one of my longest running LightHouse clients. Above all, James was a kind and gentle man who was respectful toward his fellow clients and LightHouse staff. James worked hard to do the right thing.”
And from LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin, “James was an articulate and longtime member of many of our senior programs, and his passing leaves a big gap. James attended every Dialogue with the Director meeting since I have been at the LightHouse, and was a loving advocate and kind friend to me personally. In our last meeting James told me about his working at LightHouse Industries at least back into the 1970s and I marveled that the LightHouse and James had touched each other’s lives for forty years and more. James has many friends and it is hard to imagine senior activities here without him.”