Antonio probably never knew how much of a difference he made -- hell, I never knew until he died -- but he made a huge difference to my life. He died suddenly and I never got the chance to say goodbye, and even though I only got to Scotts once a week at most, I still miss him.
Here is what I would say if he were here to hear it (and being Italian and therefore maybe Catholic, I can but hope he is reading this from somewhere):
You probably didn't even know my name, you always addressed me as Bella (which, by the way, was very flattering), but I wanted to thank you for the difference you made in my life. By being unfailingly cheerful and polite, and most of all warm, you always cheered me up. You remembered Mike and I, and you always knew what we would order. You always made sure we were looked after. "Ciao Bella, what you want?" is not a call that will easily echo its last in my mind. It's going to take some time to feel completely at home at Scotts again, and not feel sad. We won't stop going though -- that would be a dishonour to your memory.
And it was not just our lives you touched -- I wish you could see Scotts since your death -- it is full of flowers, and your picture is on the door -- three times. Your special blend of professionalism and informality will not be easily forgotten (did you know Italian greetings are de rigueur at Scotts for all staff? I'm sure you did but I didn't until I read your obituary in the Waikato Times). People loved you, Antonio, and though we did not know you outside Scotts, we loved you. We cannot imagine how hard it must be for your nearest and dearest.
I wish I had known your funeral was to be a public affair -- I would have liked a chance to pay my last respects to you, to the Scotts team, and to your family. I would have liked the chance to cry for you -- I have come very close many times. Most of all I would have liked the chance to say goodbye. Unfortunately, I did not know I would have been welcome (knowing your nature I should have known), so I did not go along. So instead, I send this letter out into cyberspace, hoping you can read it whereever you are, and know that you made my life better, and that if I could I would give you another hug (like at Christmas time). You were an amazing, special man, Antonio, and I, a mere customer, feel your loss keenly.
With love, and rest in peace