By Rhonda Massad
As sleep faded away after a fitful nights sleep, the reality of the death of Tony Di Gennaro remained true. I was hoping it was just a bad dream. When I got the message from Kirkland Mayor, Michel Gibson early yesterday morning, I quite literally jumped out of my seat, like somehow that might change the words I had just read. Like many of you, disbelief was at the forefront of my reaction. How can this be? Tony was vibrant, healthy and full of life. It could not be his time. We had so much more laughing to do.
Tony was a pillar in this community. He cared. He loved. He gave his heart and soul. He was a father. He was a husband. He was a city councillor for the town of Kirkland. He was a board member of the Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation. He was an active member of the Italian community. He was Sempai to many. He was a friend. This community will feel this loss in so many ways.
We met many years ago when I was also a councillor for Beaconsfield. We were fast friends and stayed that way. I could always count on solid advice and support from Tony.
You see I fell for Tony at the beginning of the summer. I know you are surprised to read this, but it is the truth. You see, Tony and I shared the same love for Maurizio Cafe. Much like Norm on Cheers, Tony could often be found at Maurizio’s. Everyone knows you could find Tony there at one point in the day. He would be chatting it up with John and their friends or sharing an evening meal with Helen. I can also be found there a hosting a meeting a few times a week or enjoying a meal with a friend or my husband Daniel. So we inevitably would bump into one another. We would chat, we laugh, and we share a story or two.
It was a very special day in June that I quite literally tripped as I entered the patio at the cafe. I was busy being me and waving frantically at someone I knew and landed face first at Tony’s feet. Tony scooped me up and carried me inside. I was pretty scraped up. Knees and hands bloody, tears flowing. Tony held my hand while Brites cleaned me up. He put the band-aid on my knee and offered to call Daniel to come get me. I guess I looked pretty bad. He would have called anyone if I stopped crying.
So you see, the 2017 summer joke for Tony and I was that I fell for him. He would proudly boast that “Rhonda fell for me” to anyone who would listen. Each time I saw him, we would laugh, and I would show him the progress of my injuries. The scar on my knee is still there. A few days ago I was complaining how I wish it would disappear. Now I wish it would stay. Now I wish I had just spent a little more time laughing with my buddy.
If you knew him, you will remember his infectious smile, the light in his eyes, his readiness to help and his steadfast commitment to doing the right thing. He was honorable. He was good.
Tony, I miss you so much already. There must have been a need in heaven for a kind and giving angel. Hence you were called home. I know you will continue to do God’s work now, just like you always have. Rest in peace.