Two siblings lost their father when they were in their early 20s. Without their father around, the brother and sister depended on each other. When the brother was getting married, his sister decided she wanted to give him a memorable wedding gift. As soon as he saw the gift, he cried immediately.
Gina Rae Witt, 43, of Madison, Wisconsin, and her brother, Dave Patinella, 44, of Long Beach, California, were close like most siblings. It wasn’t always that way of course. Siblings fight with each other, and they were no exceptions.
However, when their father, Guisto Patinella, died of cancer in 1994 and their mother was, at that time, not in their lives anymore, the two became closer than ever before.
“Sort of prophetically, Dad sometimes would say, if we would have a fight, ‘Someday, you two might be all each other has,’” Witt told TODAY. “I was 20 when we lost him, and then we had each other.”
They found themselves in a situation that depended on each other.
“We lived together, became homeowners when we were still in college, had to depend on each other and figure all that out … on top of that, we were trying to mourn our father at the same time. (My brother) is the one person that shares those memories of our childhood and my dad,” Witt said.
When Witt got married, Patinella was the one who walked her down the aisle. So when it was Patinella’s time to get married in 2017, Witt knew she wanted to give her brother a special gift. Then the idea came to her.
Her father always talked about a commercial he filmed with Allstate Insurance in 1971, but the siblings never saw it. So Witt wrote to the company to see if they could help.
Much to the surprise and delight of Witt, Allstate was able to track the commercial down after six weeks searching through all the film reels from 1971.
“It was really kind of an inspired action,” Witt said.
The company then sent a camera crew to film Witt’s reaction seeing the commercial for the first time. “I didn’t remember his New York accent being that strong!” she said.
Then the big moment to reveal it at Patinella’s rehearsal dinner came. Patinella was shocked to see the footage and hear his father’s voice—a voice he hadn’t heard in over 20 years. Patinella couldn’t help but cry.
“I just couldn’t believe that so many people went through this to make this happen. I’m going to watch it a million times. I love it. It’s so great. It’s the best present ever,” Patinella said.
“There’s nothing that compares to being able to hear somebody and watch them move,” Witt shared. “I know it’s just a ghost, but it’s a really good ghost. It’s more than we had before.”
To lose a loved one is hard. Photos, videos and memories of them are what we keep close to our hearts. It’s wonderful that Patinella and Witt now have a video of their father they can watch and remember him by.
Watch the 1971 commercial and Patinella’s reaction below!
Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot | Allstate Insurance.
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