Nia Vardalos couldn’t go to her dad’s funeral, is focusing on raising money for charity

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A couple of days ago, a friend posted on Facebook about the passing of his grandmother, whom he adored, and whom he wasn’t able to see or be with when she passed, because of concerns about the novel coronavirus. I thought about how many more people are going to find themselves in that situation over the next several weeks and months. Unfornately, Nia Vardalos is one of them. Her father, Gus, passed away on March 12, and she was unable to fly to Canada to be with him:

The My Big Fat Greek Wedding star, 57, could not go after her dad, Gus Vardalos, was hospitalized. Therefore, she did not get to see him in person again or attend his funeral. “They held up the phone to him and I got to thank him for an incredible life and tell him he was a gentleman and he was a great dad,” she told Variety in an interview published on Friday, March 20. “My mom held his hand and said, ‘It’s OK for you to go.'”

Gus died on March 12 at age 87. A service was held at a church in Canada and livestreamed for those who could not make it. Nia expressed gratitude for the way things worked out, however. “I always said my dad has impeccable timing,” she noted. “If he had gone 14 days ago when they weren’t acknowledging the global threat, we all would have gathered and it could have brought down the city and also we would have gone back to all our communities and could have spread something. He waited until the church said they couldn’t have any more large gatherings. I think my father knew he was keeping people safe.”

[From Us Weekly]

In the wake of her father’s passing, Nia is helping nonprofits that need it. She’s on Instagram and Twitter asking her followers to make donations and spread the word using the hashtag #bigfatdonation. She’s also encouraging them to tag celebrities, too.

Nia told Variety that she last saw her dad at Christmas: “It was like watching your favorite wind-up toy slowly slowly losing its batteries over the last year.” She said that she thought then that it might be the last time she would see him. It’s absolutely heartbreaking that Nia couldn’t be with her father in his last moments. As a mark of the surreal times that we are now in, one of the first things I thought when I read that Kenny Rogers had passed away surrounded by his family was how lucky they and he were to be together, not because that’s always a gift (though it is), but because I was glad that they were able to travel to him. I’m so sorry that Nia lost her dad, but glad that she’s been able to channel her grief into doing things in his honor and bringing people together to help, too.

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Update Edit: SO MANY OF YOU DM’d me and donated, thank you! Please repost, tag your favorite celebrities with this post and tag your favorite charity. We can do good. #❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️This is a call-out to people in my industry to donate money to get goods, services and care to those in need. Today we buried my dad, Constantine “Gus” Vardalos, 1932-2020, pictured here on the set of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, with Michael Constantine who plays Gus. My dad played the church Chanter in both movies. I wrote the wedding movies about my real family and yes the character of Gus is based on my dad. My dad passed away from natural causes and because of #socialdistancing we could not give him the large funeral he earned with his wonderful life. But as we #StayHome during #Covid19 to protect my mom, all parents, each other, and the globe, let’s move past the toilet paper hoarding jokes and the videos from celebs. We can do this. Donate money, masks, gloves, food, anything. I am grateful for my life, this last week of mourning made me even more sure that giving back and connectivity is the way forward. Also, DM me if you want to donate and are looking for a certified outlet who will use your funds to do good. If you have a little money to spare, donate a little. If you have a lot, please consider helping the many who need food, masks, gloves. Open your big fat wallets and donate. Let’s do something good. 🍎🍊 #bigfatdonation

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14 Responses to “Nia Vardalos couldn’t go to her dad’s funeral, is focusing on raising money for charity”

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  1. FHMom says:

    I think I would have lost my mind if I cpuldnt attend my dad’s funeral or see him before he died. I’m not joking. It’s extraordinary that she can turn this into a positive. My heart goes out to her and anyone else going through something g similar at this time.

  2. Noodle says:

    This touches on something I’ve been thinking about and struggle with: how do you mourn an individual’s death in these times? Like, my mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s (aggressive, mean, asks the same three questions as a script, knows who my kids are but doesn’t know names anymore, etc), and in poor health. She has a history of severe pneumonia, and I am realistic that if she catches this, which is probable, she will likely die. When she was “herself”, she was the most loving, kind person you can imagine. She was the one to go to a person’s hospital bed and sit with them for hours. She spent her days visiting the sick and elderly, and felt like that was her life’s purpose. Well, now we have this virus and a lot of people are likely going to die and she probably will too. How do we as a community celebrate the life and mourn the death of someone, when they are number 10,040 that week? How do we maintain tender hearts that are able to mourn our loss, while still in survival mode (which often hardens hearts), especially over an extended period?

    • Tulip says:

      I don’t have any answers to offer, but they’re good questions to ask. ❤️ Hugs to you, Alzheimer’s is a brutal disease, wishing you the best.

    • lobstah says:

      I’m so sorry, Noodle. Alzheimer’s is terrible. Sending you strength and hugs.

    • Anners says:

      She may be number 10,040 of the week to the world, but certainly much more than that to your family. I think it’s okay to do the ‘coping grieving’ and then, when this is all over, you can take the time you need to grieve completely.

      Alzheimer’s is tough – I hate how it steals the person you love so much and leaves a stranger in their wake. Know that you’re not alone in this 💛

    • Charfromdarock says:

      I’m sorry @Noodle

      My Mom is starting to enter that stage too. This hardest part of all this for me is not being able to be there for my parents even though they are only 70km away.

      It breaks my heart to have to explain to her multiple times a day why I can’t come visit right now. It also breaks my heart that my Dad is left alone to cope with her.

      Nia has a great strength and grace to turn her sorrow into something positive.

      • Noodle says:

        @charfromdarock, our situations mirror each other quite a bit. My dad is housebound with her, and he is losing his mind. Their 50th wedding anniversary was on Saturday, and we had to cancel the big party. I went down and made them a candlelight dinner, but not being able to hug and kiss me was so hard for her. I kept explaining why it was just me and not my family (husband + 3 kids) and that I really couldn’t touch her. She doesn’t understand the depth and gravity of all of it; or she does, then forgets. Maybe it’s better that way. I am sorry you are going through the same thing. Alzheimer’s is HEINOUS.

      • Charfromdarock says:

        I’m sorry @noodle.

        My parents just celebrated their 50th in December too.

        It’s such a horrible, horrible, horrible disease.
        Six of her older siblings have had it as well so we have seen up close what is going to happen.

  3. Lucy2 says:

    Poor Nia, that is heartbreaking.
    She is amazing for channeling her efforts to help others.

  4. JanetDR says:

    What a lovely person she is! And for the record, of all the semi sheer black/nude dresses I have seen (and mostly hated) that is undoubtedly the nicest one .
    I keep thinking of the end of both my parents lives and how much time I was able to devote to their care and what a blessing that seems like now.
    My son lives and works in NYC and is currently working from his apartment. I was trying to talk him into coming home (I am working remotely too). But he’s concerned about spreading it to us. I’m concerned about him catching it and not being able to do anything to help him from hours away.

  5. Veronica S. says:

    It’s the situation a lot of Italians are finding themselves in, to be honest. The mortuaries can’t keep up with the body count, and it’s too dangerous to go out. I have a friend who lives there and is part of the lock down, and her take is that a lot of people are going to come out of this legitimately traumatized. She counts herself extremely fortunate to have not lost any family thus far.

  6. Ali says:

    This has been my fear from the beginning. I live across the country from my vulnerable family members including my father and I may never see them again.

  7. emmy says:

    My father has also been very ill for a long time. Not only am I worried that my elderly parents will catch this virus, I also hate that I can’t visit right now. I keep thinking how fortunate I am though. We live in the same country and if worst comes to worst, I can rent a car and go. I have the money and am able to work from home. I see so many people complaining about trivial shit when so many are losing jobs, businesses and their health or even life. I really don’t understand that.

    She’s really inspirational, like so many others who are showing us that despite what horror politicians and assholes might unleash, we CAN be better. It’s crazy to think that there is now something the whole world experiences together. I wish we didn’t but here we are.

  8. Beautiful post, Quimby, about a beautiful lady with a big heart. Talk about finding the good in a tragedy. Very inspiring. And —- on a shallower note —- I too, love that black sheer dress.