A LIFE WELL LIVED:  Antonio Pecchia

Antonio Pecchia is pictured here "in true character form," writes his daughter.


577-1546 is the phone number we have lived with for over 51 years. Nov. 30, 2017, on what would have been my father’s 91st birthday, the phone was cut off.

My brother, Tony, and my sister, Julie, the only members left in our family circle of three that once was seven, are mourning this disconnection.

We have called that number over and over again for almost our whole lives. We jumped for joy when my mother Rosa would answer with her musical lyrical accented voice and my father Antonio’s deep Italian intense bass toned with “alo” quickly followed by “whosathis?”

We cried and mourned together when my brother Tony called from the same number to inform us of our brother Mike’s death and a few years later of our mother’s passing.

We used the same phone to inform loved ones of our engagements, births, moves, sorrows and joys.

When my parents moved out to Rosslyn Road, the phone was my mother’s lifeline to the rest of the world, especially to my sister and I who have lived most of our lives away from Thunder Bay.

This same phone was used to call our family members and our friends to inform them of our brother Dean’s passing last year and most recently of our precious old papa Antonio this past June.

My parents were young immigrants, my mother three months pregnant, accompanied by me a toddler when they made the brave choice to move to Canada from their beloved country of Italy. Although they struggled with learning the English language (and eventually mastered it but not so much the accents) one of the first signs that there were going to be deeply rooted in this country was their phone number. They have only moved twice since being assigned 577-1546 but for over 51 years that number has been part of our heritage, part of the dash that will be remembered when we pass away from this earth.

When my father, a widower, had a stroke and was left alone, the phone was his companion. Those who worked with him would call him ahead of time to tell him they were on their way. Even when my father lost most of his hearing he could still hear when the phone rang. He always anticipated that someone who cared about him would be on the other line. And he was right. Most of the time.

Occasionally telemarketers would call only to hang up when dad would say, “I don’t understand what you are saying,” or “when are you going to get here?”

Before his stroke, dad called me every week when my husband and I lived in Edmonton and each time urged me to “please come home.” After months of his pleading phone calls I stopped to think about my work that included the elderly I finally came to realize that my old precious father needed me more and at “home.” Thus both my husband and I left well-paid permanent positions to tend to him. It is deeply ingrained in me “to honour thy father and mother.”

A few months after our arrival dad had a stroke. He nearly died as I was holding his hand but my cry of “please don’t go dad” kept him here for a few more years.

After my father had his stroke he could barely remember how to use the phone but he didn’t stop trying. He always remembered his own phone number though! I would encourage him to try calling who he had in mind and patiently sat with him as he slowly and with great labour pressed the buttons so he could speak to his sister in Italy or my sister in Florida. My favourite times with dad were sitting with him outside as he talked about his trees and we drank expresso that my husband Dennis made for us.

It was with heavy hearts that we watched my father slowly decline this past spring. And it was just like dad to wait until a few days after summer began to die. We got him home during the last few days of his life so he could see his beloved trees one more time and be in familiar surroundings, the phone close to his bed.

We say goodbye to him shortly before midnight on June 24 and then we started our phone calls from 577-1546 to say that a great and compassionate man had just embarked on the journey to the other side.

We all say goodbye at some point or another. Never take it for granted when you do speak to someone on the other line that it may be the last time you hear their living voice.

So today, with tears streaming down my face I say goodbye to our life-long family phone number. But I know that when I do see my dear old dad again he’s going to stretch out his strong arms to hold me and say, “I know whosathis!” and my dear mother will dance with me as she cries, “My Lena!” and my two brothers who will try and outrun me in the eternal fields of glory as we call out each other’s names never to say good-bye again.

- Submitted by Adelina Pecchia, now living in Eastern Ontario

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