Amid the travel restrictions between the United States and Canada, Nia Vardalos missed an important moment for her family: her father’s funeral.
The “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” star told Variety that she was not able to return to her hometown for services in Winnipeg, Canada after her father, Constantine Vardalos, was hospitalized and passed away on March 12. He was 87.
“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. “My mom held his hand and said, ‘It’s okay for you to go.’”
The 57-year-old actress explained in the same interview that the last time she saw her father was at Christmas while his health was beginning to decline.
“At Christmas we were all there. He was on the couch, happy and mobile,” she said. “He wasn’t incapacitated but not quite running a marathon… I had a feeling this might be it.”
Vardalos broke the tragic news of her father’s passing on Instagram, sharing a sweet family photo alongside the news.
“Surrounded by the family he created, last night our dad gently passed away,” she wrote. “Born in a Greek village, he immigrated to Canada, and, with our mom, built a happy life. Except that he was very much pro-education for all his children, my dad was indeed the basis for the character of Gus I wrote in the Greek wedding movies. He was so proud of us all and we know he is in heaven teaching everyone the Greek root of all words. Constantine Vardalos, 1932 - 2020. Rest peacefully.”
His funeral was livestreamed from the church he was president of.
In another post, she explained, "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."
But Vardalos has found a silver-lining in the timing of her beloved father's passing.
“I always said my dad has impeccable timing,” she said. “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.”