A Tribute to Antonio Mirabelli

 Antonio Mirabelli

Born: February 20th, 1938  Rende, Cosenza Italy.

Departed: September 1st, 2021  Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

I have taken some time to process the loss of my beloved father. A man of great pride and virtue. A family man who loved his family deeply. In turn, that love reciprocated in ways that my words may never fully be able to describe. I will always do my best to honour him.  The emotion captured from dancing with my father on my wedding day reflects my profound love and adoration for him. 

My hope is that these beautiful moments fill the holes in my heart over time rather then the painful reminder of watching him decline with our weekly visits to him in long-term care. His suffering from Parkinson's was especially hard for me to accept. 

If my father wasn't smiling or laughing, he was singing and dancing. If he wasn't singing or dancing he was joking and if he wasn't joking, he was telling you some colourful story or offering memorable life advice. That was his charismatic energy.  I hung onto every expression, every lyric and tale.  With his signature ways, he made you feel like you were the most important person in his world. 

It felt like nothing else. My father felt like magic.

He had this truly amazing gift of radiating a warmth that you couldn't help but to want to be around. He would shorten your name but elongate that last syllable to sound like a jingle. For my daughter Karina, it was "Kari", my husband Roman, "Romi" and for myself Natalina, it was "Nali".  He'd hang on to that last Italian vowel "e" sound for so long and say it in the nicest way, it felt like the biggest hug. 

His affection was infectious. He shortened his own name too, introducing himself as "Tony Mirabel" insisting you call him "Tony", always putting others around him at ease. He had this joyous way about him that made everyone in his sphere feel enamoured. 

Before this terrible disease took away his mobility and speech, I took my dad on a vacation to St. Martin to enjoy quality family time together. We lovingly would tease him about his love for sea, sand and extreme devotion to suntanning! Giving him this final trip meant so much to me. We had the best time: many laughs and long talks were had where he reflected on his life. Of course, he gave me more, much more of his legendary life advice.  I was able to realize in greater depth, Antonio Mirabelli, the man, an amazing human being, a foundation of living beyond how I knew him as "dad".  I will forever be grateful for this experience because his diagnosis made me aware that being with him was so precious.  As a parent to a toddler myself, I had a different appreciation for what he really was, a gift that wasn't fully realized in my youth.  

He was priceless.  My father was and will always be a treasure. 

I made a promise to him on that trip about a life goal that would take hard work and sacrifice, something he knew a lot about through his own parenting and life.  He looked at me very serious (which he wasn't very often) and said he was sure if anyone could do it, I could. His confidence in me always propelling me forward, I was grateful to come full circle to that very promise five years later.  Showing him I was following through on my convictions before he left us this summer was bittersweet. Even though his body was quite different from our original talk years before, he squeezed my hand tightly, held my gaze wide-eyed and nodded proudly. I know how difficult it was for my dad to physically react in that way when his body was failing him and it meant the world to me. Even in the depths of his illness, he still had his extraordinary ability to make his daughter feel special.

I am certain he will always be with me in spirit. 

So much of what I do to create my very own legacy will be deeply rooted in his. 

Rest in peace daddy. Just like the song we danced to, 'Time to say Goodbye'. Con te Partirò, 

Natalina Xx




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