There were 111 COVID-related deaths on January 7th, 2021. My uncle was one of them. But this is not about COVID; this is about one man who made a difference in Long Beach, NY – the city by the sea. Anthony “Gigi” Perretta was the kind of man you didn’t forget. When you spoke with him, he found the common ground between you, whether it was a mutual love (or hate) of a sports team, the pleasure of eating great food, or the undying admiration for a song sung well. You became fast friends if you also loved Frank Sinatra.
He had a way of getting underneath the surface quickly, sparking unforgettable conversations and developing lifelong relationships easily. He was a very touching man, and he moved people, so it’s fitting that his 50 year old business in Island Park NY – Gigi Movers – is a moving company.
He was Uncle Gigi for as long as I can remember. He loved garbanzo beans as a child but could not pronounce it, so he called them “gigi beans”. The name stuck and he was Gigi to all within a 500 mile radius of his Long Beach home. He has moved everyone I know at least twice.
There’s a saying about how people will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel. That was Gigi. He made you feel like you were part of an exclusive club together. Yes, he moved people.
I wrote a radio ad for Gigi Movers once, and one of the lines was, “I’m Gigi, and I can tell you that that nickname isn’t from some French movie. Call me for an estimate and I’ll tell you how I got it.” He loved it.
When he tested positive for COVID before Christmas, he spent 4 days in bed. This was a man who was up before the sun and at his office by 6:30 am 6 days a week. He loved the Laurel Diner and Demi’s Coffee Shop, and he turned this big Irish family onto Don Peppe’s in Ozone Park for what he called a “real Italian meal.”
He went to Winthrop Hospital in Mineola on December 23rd, and I went with his wife, my Aunt Rosie, to see him in the ICU a few days later. He was intubated by then and in a medical coma – all prescribed steps for severe COVID cases. A week later, the medical staff at Winthrop suggested a family ZOOM call, and 17 of us called in from around the country to tell Gigi our fondest and funniest memories of him. We played My Way by Frank Sinatra for him, and the first lines of that song broke all of us.
That’s the thing about family. You break together in grief and you come together in grief – and through it all you are surrounded by love. We laughed, we prayed, and we cried on that ZOOM call, celebrating a man who was bigger than life, and Gigi was able to let go the next day, peacefully, in his time, in his way.