KRISTI GIAMBATTISTA

Essential

I would call it an organized mess. I grew up idolizing what is known as ‘the shop’. It all started back in 1956 when my grandparents immigrated to Canada from Molise, Italy to start a new life. My grandfather Francesco teamed up with two friends to start what’s known today as FTN (Frank, Tony & Nick) Laminating located in Mississauga, Ontario. After my grandfather passed in 2002, my dad took over FTN to continue his legacy.

Normally, my dad leaves the house at 6 am and doesn’t return till 6 pm. Working a 12-hour day at minimum, my dad taught me work ethic. He still wears the same ‘work’ clothes he did twenty years ago. The factory always looked way bigger as a child. I remember going there as a kid on a Saturday when my mum had to work. My sisters and I would mess about, and be covered in dust after ten minutes. When the pandemic hit, he went from working 80 hours seven days a week to none. He was forced to close the factory in a matter of days, as it was considered non-essential.


A few weeks into our worldwide pandemic, my dad would go into the shop, just to go in. He couldn’t take just sitting around all day, every day. One Saturday my Uncle, who works as a funeral director in the GTA, phoned up to ask my dad to make him 10 caskets as he was swamped with individuals who had recently lost their lives from COVID-19.

This was the moment my dad went from being a non-essential business to essential within a matter of seconds. Five here, ten there, with only four pieces of plywood, two types of nails, staples, and ‘really good wood glue,’ the coffins could hold up to 300 pounds in weight. "Want to get in?" my dad joked. Being extremely high risk, my dad always seemed to make light of tough situations. The four-piece wooden box were sent directly to the crematorium in Etobicoke.

I later learned that the individuals who had died from COVID-19, didn't have a choice but to be cremated and my dad felt he needed to do his part by helping these people grieve their loved ones. And because my dad had just lost his mother a couple of weeks prior to the pandemic, I guess it was his way of coping and helping others cope as well. 

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