Actress Nia Vardalos was forced to miss her father's funeral due to the coronavirus crisis.
The My Big Fat Greek Wedding star had to speak to her dad, Gus Vardalos, on his death bed during a heartbreaking phone call after he was recently hospitalised in Canada.
"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," Nia tells Variety. "My mom held his hand and said, 'It’s OK for you to go'."
Gus died on 12 March (20) and Nia had to watch his funeral via a livestream broadcast after church officials were forced to limit the sizes of funeral gatherings.
"I always said my dad has impeccable timing," the actress adds. "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."
Nia feels sure her dad knew he wouldn't be seeing her again after the family spent Christmas together in Winnipeg, Canada.
"I had a feeling this might be it," she explains. "There was a moment that flashed between my dad and me when we said goodbye... I think he was saying, 'This really is goodbye'."
The actress is now raising money for charities in honour of her father’s memory: "People in our industry, we’re fortunate, we’re privileged, we’re pampered and some of us want to use our voices to do something," Nia says. "That’s why I decided to go online and find different organisations. We have to do some good or we’re going to go nuts."
Her friends Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who are recovering from a fight with the coronavirus in Australia, have donated cash to her father's church.
Nia paid tribute to her father in her break-out film hit - her character's father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding was also called Gus.
© Cover Media