London

London woman says grandfather's COVID-19 death breaks her heart

Mario Torresan was living at the Kensington Village long-term care home in London when he tested positive for COVID-19. The 88-year-old man died this week.

Jessica Becker says you feel powerless when your loved one is suffering amid an outbreak

Mario Torresan with his granddaughter's children, Jos (left) and Penelope (right) in a photo from 2015. (Submitted by Jessica Becker)

Mario Torresan, an 88-year-old London man who died of COVID-19 earlier this week, moved to Canada from Italy in the 1950s to pursue a better life, said his granddaughter. 

But Jessica Becker felt like she had the most to gain from her grandparents' decision to immigrate – even though it happened decades before she was born. 

"It was one of those typical stories, they left for Canada because it sounded like there would be better opportunities for their lives," she said. "I was able to go to post-secondary school, and I have a master's degree, and I was able to benefit from a lot of social programs that the country has offered me. I always thought that was really cool."

Torresan died sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. He was a resident at the Kensington Village long-term care home in northeast London and he tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, said Becker. 

Mario Torresan was a resident at Kensington Village in London, which has been battling an outbreak of COVID-19 since April 3. (Jean-Francois Bisson/CBC)

Torresan spent much of his life working in mines near Sudbury, explained Becker. Since his death, she's been reflecting on their shared memories. And while she admits she was closer with her grandmother who passed away two decades ago, she said there is one memory that stands out. 

It was after she moved back to London from Vancouver, following what she described as a traumatic breakup with her first husband. 

"I didn't have a job. I had maybe $100 in my bank account and I had a two-year-old … so I moved back in with my mom," she explained.

"He asked my mom if I was okay financially; he wanted to help out, he bought my kid a bike. Those are things that I never ever would have expected."

Becker says that generosity revealed a person she didn't really know before.

"At the time, it didn't occur to me maybe I should reach out to him more often. So I can say I regret that, for sure, that I was just caught up in my business and trying to manage it. But I still have that bike." 

Last week, Becker heard that Torresan wasn't doing well.

"COVID, as a thing being really awful, that just breaks my heart, that he had to suffer like that," she said.

Kensington Village has been battling a COVID-19 outbreak since April 3, where seven residents have died since the pandemic began.

"My heart definitely goes out to other people who are in the situation where they have loved ones in care facilities, or in hospital, and you're powerless to help or fix it," she said. 

As of Thursday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported another death in the region, bringing the total to 56.

About the Author

Liny Lamberink

Reporter/Editor

Liny Lamberink is a reporter in London, ON. She can be reached at liny.lamberink@cbc.ca

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