This picture remains one of my favourite photos of my grandfather, Anthony "Tony" Casola.
That would be "Nonno Tony" to me and his other 15 grandchildren.
According to my phone, this picture was taken in September 2008, which seems like a lifetime ago.
Just have a look at the size of that zucchini -- it's ridiculously large! (You can insert your own inappropriate joke here.)
And my grandfather, well, let's just say I didn't get my height from him.
But my Nonno always had a wonderful sense of humour, and when I took this photo, he found the contrast between him and his vegetable absolutely hilarious.
I think he'd have really appreciated me sharing this picture today as part of my final farewell.
My grandfather died earlier this morning.
"Died" is such a harsh word, but I've never really been the type of person to use inaccurate euphemisms like "passed away", "moved on", or "gone".
And in this case, that's especially appropriate, because if I were to say I "lost" my Nonno, he'd be the first one to quip something like, "Go look for me!"
My Nonno was with us, and now he isn't, and those who loved him are very sad today because of that.
But he had been suffering from dementia for a while, so the person I grew up knowing has been "gone" for some time.
This morning, his almost 92-year-old body simply said, "Okay, basta. That's enough."
I'm not a religious man, so I can't say with any degree of confidence that "he's gone to a better place". I hope it's true, but I also happen to think the place he left wasn't so bad.
What I can say with confidence is that my Nonno made this world a better place.
He immigrated to Canada with a dream of a better life for his family, then worked hard for decades (first in construction and then, later, in real estate) to bring that dream to life.
There's a great poem, written by Linda Ellis, called "The Dash". The poem notes that on one's tombstone, the two dates listed don't matter. What matters is the dash between those dates, which represents the life that was lived.
And I'd say my Nonno had a pretty great dash.
He was a loving husband to his wife Giuseppina, a caring father to his five children (Joanne, Cathy, John, Charles, and Madeline) and their respective spouses, a kind and generous grandfather to his 16 grandchildren (and their spouses), and a very proud great-grandfather to his 10 great-grandchildren.
My Nonno loved his family, and we loved him right back.
And he will live on in our hearts, our memories, and our photos.
Including the ones with ridiculously large vegetables.
Antonino Casola October 22, 1930 - July 12, 2022
P.S. If you subscribe to my blog for the marketing-related posts I write, I trust you'll forgive me for taking a day off from that to write this tribute to my Nonno. As it happens, I found out he had died when I sat down at my computer on Tuesday morning to write my Wednesday post and a message from my sister popped up on my screen. After that, I couldn't really think of anything else to write about.