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Mississauga Family Creatively Celebrates Birthday Amid Coronavirus Measures

Ralph Pisani's family came up with a heartwarming present for his birthday in isolation.
Ralph Pisani's family came up with a sweet and safe way to show up for his birthday, without breaking physical distancing precautions.
Annie Otzen via Getty Images
Ralph Pisani's family came up with a sweet and safe way to show up for his birthday, without breaking physical distancing precautions.

In the age of COVID-19, celebrating everything from birthdays to religious events means finding a way to adapt as people are forced to isolate or physically distance.

But in Ralph Pisani’s family decided they were going to find a way to make his birthday in Mississauga, Ont. ― an event that brings members of his large family together year after year ― as special as ever.

Pisani’s daughter, Jessica Pimentel, came up with the idea of getting her relatives to send photos and messages which they — through a covert operation involving Pisani’s wife — stuck on the door he opens up every morning.

“She had pasted them on the back door, which we knew he would open up when he woke up in the morning,” said Jessica. “He always likes to let the sunshine in.”

The morning of his 70th birthday, Pisani opened the doors to find himself awash in sunlight and overwhelming emotion.

“Oh my god,” he said, tearing up at a sea of cut-out faces staring back at him. A video of his reaction made its way on to Instagram.

“To see how everybody else around the world reacted to it, really, really touched him and all of us,” said Jessica.

While Pisani’s birthday celebration was a touching success, he joins countless other people who have had to find creative ways to stay connected with their family and friends as cities shut down and coronavirus cases ramp up.

Even on the days before and after his birthday, Pisani’s family is trying to do everything they can to stay connected with each other. Jessica said they FaceTime and text each other multiple times a day.

“All of us FaceTime or text each other multiple times a day, we have a family group chat,” she said.

“Try to reach out to each other and help each other,” she said, offering advice for other families working through self-isolation.

“He’s not taking down the pictures or messages until we’re able to see each other again.”

- Jessica Pimentel

When it comes to celebrations, creativity is key. Pisani came up with this heartwarming idea ― first and foremost ― to make sure her family was staying safe, but also with the understanding that you don’t need a physical presence to let someone know that they are surrounded by support.

And when things wind down, Pisani’s family will come together once again, to celebrate as they’ve done year after year.

Until that day, she said the photos have given her father something to hold him through the days.

“He’s not taking down the pictures or messages until we’re able to see each other again.”

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