For Roger's girls

On Sunday 14th December 2014 at 2:45 pm everything dramatically changed for my family.

Roger conducted himself in a way which was so profoundly true of what he stood for as a human.  But it cost him big time – the ultimate price – his own life.

He witnessed a young pregnant lady being assaulted. She was screaming for help, and when he went to her aid, he was attacked by a man and stabbed to death.  This tragic incident happened only a mere 200 metres from our home.

I know for a fact that Roger would never, ever turn away from such an act of violence; even if it were an animal in distress, he would have to provide assistance in one way or another.  He stood by his morals – lived and breathed them in fact.

Having known Roger for over 26 years, the one aspect that he would never tolerate was violence against women and children.  He could not understand nor comprehend why any man could lead himself to act in such an abhorrent way.  I have personally, over the years witnessed Roger in action, whereby he would rightfully step in if he ever saw or felt the need to help a woman in distress or requiring some kind of assistance in whatever shape or form.

My life now continues without him.  My daughters’ lives now too continue without him. 

My life should have continued with Roger but it won’t now.  We had so much more to get done and to achieve together.

We had purchased our house 13 years ago when I was expecting, and moved in six weeks before our first daughter, Ashlee who is now 14 was born.  Just two years ago we contemplated renovating – which we did, to only then discover, that I was expecting again. Our baby, Brylee was born in July, 2013.  She is now 1.5 years old.

Luckily we got most of the interior done, however the house exterior, gardens and driveway were to be left for another day.  We knew that it would take us a long, long time before we could actually do anything outside (cause we just had the baby), but it was still lovely to keep our dream going and to keep coming up with all the fantastic ideas.  We both had the incentive, ambition and drive and just wanted to do it ourselves!

Unfortunately, and due to this unforeseen tragedy, I am left with a mess.  Both the front and back yards are in real need of a make-over.  I have a make-shift walkway made of house bricks leading from the back deck to the garage and the driveway is all cracked and uneven.  I’m a bit concerned with Brylee trying to walk along the path, so I tend to just keep her up on the deck.  We wanted to put in garden beds and plant a few herbs.  I’ve always loved the flowering natives (to blend in with the beautiful gum trees that line our back fence, out onto the oval), and overall wanted a low maintenance garden with a watering system.  This was to be the job start for Roger on our return from a planned trip to Swan Hill during the Christmas break (which did not eventuate).

Our other plans – to get the house rendered, put in a front fence (so Brylee can play out the front but be safe) and redo of other bits and pieces like the guttering isn’t likely to happen now as I simply can’t afford it.

What I want people to know is that Roger was a great guy, firm but fair with his children, practiced chivalry, believed everyone was equal and if he liked you, he really did and if he loved you, he really did.  Always with a smile on his face (he beamed), had a wicked gutsy laugh and loved sports – was a true fanatic!  People always called him a “top bloke”.

I also want to thank the community of Altona North – it becomes apparent and you realise just how close-knit the community you’re a part of is when such a life-changing event occurs.  From the store manager at my local supermarket who took me aside (out the back office actually) when I had a complete meltdown when I was at the deli, who then assisted me with the rest of my shopping (she pushed the trolley around for me).  The people who called by after their Christmas work break ups and brought trays of food for us.  And to the best neighbours you could ever ask for, John and Gwen, Michelle and Nicholas, Nick and Marie, Tina and Justin, Nick and Helen and I can’t forget to mention Rob – you know Roger loved you (and the Statesman of course!), who are always there for me and my girls.

Helen, Ashlee & Brylee Bertocci
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Ashlee Bertocci 
Murupara, NZ