Summer Bukeavich, 30, said that hours after her father, Paul Beretsky, 63, suddenly died from a heart attack at his home in Kingston, Pa., on Tuesday, she and her grieving family members watched a funny video of him trying to hula hoop while playing Nintendo Wii.
"This hula hoop video made us all crack up, and we needed it so badly," Bukeavich told ABC News today.
When she couldn't fall asleep Tuesday night, she decided to post the video to YouTube and link to it from Reddit, touching an Internet nerve that generated hundreds of comments -- mostly sympathetic ones -- and started a conversation in which Bukeavich was able to memorialize her father.
"His name was Paul," she wrote, in response to one Reddit user's question. "He really liked watching football and PBR was his favorite beer. He didn't understand the Internet despite years of my trying to show him. He grew up pretty poor and both of his parents were dead by the time he was 20 or so."
"He met my mom and married her in 1974, and they tried like hell to get pregnant for 10 years. It took a long time, but they brought me to life. Sadly, he loved steak -- and that might be one of the contributors to his death. He loved steak and he loved salt. On everything. I chastised him for it constantly. Other favorite foods: pretzels, peanuts. He ate saltine crackers for breakfast. Why? Don't ask me. (He also used to say "Why? Don't ask me!" a lot.) He'd recently bought a new (used) truck and loved the damn thing. He'd make excuses to haul stuff around -- oh, hey, need that old mirror taken to your house? Sure, let me grab my truck. Oh, you're buying lumber? Let me get my truck. The truck's sitting out front right now. Just looking at it makes me upset."
Bukeavich said that the discussion on Reddit and the private messages she received from strangers on the Internet were a bright light on a sad day.
"All of the positive comments I've gotten have made me feel really good, people offering to lend an ear, and that part of the experience has been very heartening," she said.
Some comments on the Reddit thread and YouTube video, though, turned hateful, prompting Bukeavich to look to her late father's example in how to deal with adversity.
"The bad side, when I saw those first few negative comments from the haters or trolls or whatever, I pretty much lost it. I was in a back room of my house surrounded by collages of him we'd made hours earlier and I thought, 'People can really be cruel,'" she said. "[But] I've tried to approach it the way my dad would, which is tho throw his hands up."
Bukeavich, whose mother died when she was 11, said that she and her father were extremely close. She described him as being "such a dad, he was a dad to everybody."
Beretsky was born in Larksville, Pa., and lived in Kingston, Pa., for more than 40 years. He worked in manufacturing his whole life and was called, as Bukeavich said, the "Mayor" for having friends everywhere he went.