I was planning a pre-Valentine dinner with a few friends last week when I received some bad news. An uncle finally succumbed to Lymphoma after 9 rounds of chemotherapy. His passing took everyone by surprise. Tito Jojo was always upbeat and positive that everybody thought he was going to lick the cancer. We chatted a few times late last year and I didn’t even suspect that there was something wrong. He was always his funny self, inviting me over to his house to cook his favorite valenciana, or reminding me to go with him the next time he’d go home to Albuera for the fiesta. Now, I will forever regret that I did not make an effort to see him—I was too lazy to drive to Batasan Hills. But at the same time grateful that I was spared from seeing him suffer.
I didn’t realize he was sick until after the New Year when I saw his new photos in Facebook. His smile was the same, he didn’t lose weight but his hair turned white and his face looked dehydrated.
On a gloomy Sunday afternoon, his family and friends took Tito Jojo to his final resting place at the Himlayang Pilipino in Tandang Sora. I looked at the bewildered Therese, his 15-year old daughter, and I was reminded of my younger self on the day my own father was buried when I was about Therese’ age. Ah, why do we lose our fathers at a tender age? What is the lesson to be learned here? Is there a rhyme or reason to a loss of a parent when one is too young?
I comforted myself at the thought that the pain ended when Tito Jojo exhaled his last breath. That he was free at last. I will remember you, Tito Jojo.
Life goes on.