Eraldo “Tony” C. Antonini

Eleven years my junior, I assumed my brother would always be a part of my life . . . until January 14th — a day before his 56th birthday — when that became no longer true.

I don’t have the words to express how much of a void he leaves. Because of our age difference, there are long periods when our lives did not intersect as often as I now wish they had. While absence didn’t mean we weren’t close, I can’t deny looking back with regret at not having spent more time together, spoken more often, shared more of each other’s joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams, and more of our important moments.

Even when separated by oceans, there was no doubt we would see each other again, share laughter, food, and the company of friends and family.

I last saw him in September, and I hold dear the memory from that brief visit. His easy smile and the echo of his laughter are what I’ll carry forward as I remember him as the kind, easy-going, smart, and generous person that he was.

Some might regard my words as carrying the bias of a brother, but I wish everyone could have met the many, many people who came to the memorial service and used those exact words as they expressed genuine and deep sorrow at having lost a friend, and recounted the many reasons they held him in high regard.

People who worked with him, people who shared his passion for tennis, people whose lives intersected Eraldo’s life and travels, all agreed he was an all-around great person they will deeply miss.

I don’t have the exact numbers, but more than one hundred and fifty people came to offer their condolences and to find comfort for their grief in each other’s memories of my brother. Not just for a quick visit, but multiple hours. It sounds trivial to add, but it was all that more significant because they braved a Chicago winter storm to come and pay their respect and celebrate his life in each other’s company.

Even as I regret not having shared a larger part of his life, I’m glad many people called him a friend and I’m comforted by knowing their company and friendship enriched his life just as they told me he enriched theirs. Putting faces to names, and hearing firsthand the sorrow in their voice and the honesty of their grief, reaffirmed the esteem I held for my brother and helped — if only temporarily — buffer my and my family’s grief. Some who could not be there sent amazing messages — touching and emotional messages — expressing what he meant to them and offering their condolences.

Eraldo touched the lives of many people and left the world a better place for him having been here, and while I would have liked so much more for my brother, beyond the obvious longer life, I am proud of the man he was, the life he led, and to call him my brother and friend.

~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~

For the past five days, our family, as many families do, chose to celebrate his life as a way of coping with the sudden loss. My sister put together these two boards for the memorial service. Those are but a few of many memories.

Click for larger view.
Click for larger view.

For them who wonder about his name, most people knew him as “Tony” as it’s easier to remember and pronounce than Eraldo.

I’m home now and want to add a few more photos to give a sense of his life and who he was. I’ll add a few annotations, but the important thing is to see him at different times of his life. I understand few readers of this blog knew of my brother, but writing this post is part of my grieving process, so I hope you will bear with me. Mostly, I’m writing this for family and friends and for myself.

You can read his obituary HERE, but I’ll touch on some of it below.

He was born in Udine, Italy. In 1966, we emigrated to the US.

Eraldo loved to travel in Italy and surrounding countries. He also traveled in the US, and especially enjoyed the American Southwest and Florida’s Disney World.

There are few photos of Eraldo on his own. The photo at the beginning of the post is one of my favorites, along with these . . .

A crop of the above.

The next gallery has photos spanning moments with family, friends, and some of his travels. Again, these are photos that didn’t make it to the two boards but capture events in his Eraldo’s life. As before, I’ll annotate a few. I’m trying not to duplicate photos on the board (except for a few of the single shots) but if any slips by, sorry.

Here’s the gallery, presented in random order and with a few annotations.

I know some people would like to leave me condolences but I would ask, if you would, to wait for a future blog post since this isn’t about me and I would like to leave comments open for friends and family who actually knew Eraldo and might wish to share something about him.

Edited to Add: Comments have been closed.