Story Time: A Night of Remembrance

Original post: April 1, 2021. Edited.

Tonight was the Celebration of Life for my father. It was held at his favorite Italian bakery, La Casa del Pane in St. Pete Beach, where he visited every day. Except for Mondays. They are closed on Monday.

These wonderful people prepared lots of authentic Italian food for this open house. They truly loved my dad so much. He was a pain at times but it was very much a love relationship. He was family to them, and they to him. Dad even went to Italy to one of their family weddings.

My dad had his own seat at the end of counter. My sister once took a picture of him sitting there so when he called or texted from the bakery she knew his view.

People from all over the world would come to the bakery but no one ever left without knowing who Denny was. After 25 years or so of sitting at their counter, Dad was just about as permanent as any fixture in the place.

My dad and his wife once played in a ukulele band called the Bandaid Band. Two of the members came together tonight to play in honor of Dad. They played Dad’s favorite song, That’s Amore, and everyone sang along. It was wonderful. I imagine Dad would have shed a few tears.

I heard several stories all evening. Beautiful, touching stories. Funny stories. Sad stories. Love definitely filled this room tonight.

Here are just a few of those:

My dad’s appearance is combination of The Godfather, Colonial Sanders, and Einstein. There is a story in question that someone in the film industry begged Dad to go to Germany to play Einstein in a movie. His friends encouraged him to do it. His wife knows nothing about it. So did it really happen, or was Dad having a bit of fun with his friends?

The Colonial, The Godfather, Einstein

There was a picture on the display table of Dad in Africa wearing a red shirt. An African man greatly admired the red bandanna that Dad wore so Dad gave it to him. In return, the man gave him a club that he had carved himself which he used to kill lions.

My Dad and his wife went to see Sister Sledge in concert and Dad was asked by them to come up on stage with them while they sang We are Family and apparently his dancing was quite entertaining to watch. I can only imagine.

Then one morning, out of the blue, the owner of the bakery saw my dad park out front. She noticed he was slower than usual to come in. When he entered, he was having difficulty catching his breath and his color was not right. He said he just got his haircut and wanted to come by. When he asked for coffee they told him he needed to go home. He thought that was a good idea too. So one of the girls got Dad to his car and she drove him home. She hugged him after she dropped him off to his wife. When she got back to the bakery, she told her family she felt that was the last time she was going to see him. And it was. The ambulance was called and that was the day he left home to never return. His Italian family felt it was as if he came to the bakery to say goodbye without even aware of it.

It was such a nice gathering. I know my dad would have appreciated it very much. To have so many of his favorite people together in a place he loved, well…there just aren’t words to describe the depth of gratitude and love.

I felt my Dad’s presence there. It was warm. Oh, how he is missed so much already. He touched lives from all corners of the world. I found great peace among his friends. I am proud to be his daughter.

I pity the poor soul who wanders into the bakery today and sits in Dad’s seat at the end of the counter. They just might be run out of town. Maybe even tarred and feathered first.

Last year, Dad’s wife went to the bakery to visit with friends of Dad’s from Germany. She discovered this picture of Dad in one of the glass cases. So appropriate. He always made everyone laugh.

If you are ever in the St. Pete Beach area, you should stop by the La Casa del Pane and ask about Denny…and grab yourself a coffee as you might be there awhile.

Dad’s presence will continue in the hearts of all who knew him for a very, very long time. ♥️


8 thoughts on “Story Time: A Night of Remembrance

  1. How lovely! I am sure he would have loved it…I loved it and did not even know him. His favorite song is also one of my favorite songs..sung by Dean Martin, one of my favorites as well. His comparisons to all those mentioned; Einst short stick. He must have been some relation to Goliath! A lovely, lovely, tribute to him. My thoughts are with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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