Goodbye my Uncle

Goodbye my Uncle

My first and last gift for You, Uncle. Photo by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

This morning, some people at the T station stared at me when hearing my saying out loud in Vietnamese.

“What? Mom, what did you just said?”

“Your uncle Huoc just passed away yesterday. I and your Dad attended the cremation today.”

“I’m so shocked Mom. There was no indication that he was ill at all.”

I ended the call with my Mom soon because I can’t hold my tears. No wonder yesterday I couldn’t call my Mom. She was being at his wake.

My Uncle, a cousin of my Mom, is a very gentle man who had been living a very simple life of a vegetarian. We have had a close relationship with his family since I was little. My Mom said her and her brother grew up in the same roof with him and his younger siblings.

I remembered whenever I came to see him, he always asked:

“Dear, how have you been doing? Have you come to see your father yet?”

We never had a long talk because my Uncle was known for his reticence. One of his hobbies was to visit his people.

When I was home, he often came to our house, saying “hi” to my Mom, touching my head and asked if I did well at school and encouraged me to try my best.

Before leaving our house, he always walked to our river-facing compartment where my maternal great grandparents and my Mom’s mother are worshiped. He incensed them and said some things to them in a very low voice.

When I returned to Vietnam, I always visited his extended family who lives just a bridge away. But last time, I remembered I went upstairs to incense his parents. I saw his habitual hammock next to his bed but he wasn’t there. The second time, I returned in the evening, his younger brother said he was sleeping. Therefore, the last time I talked to him was on the Vietnam New Year of 2012.

My Mom and his younger brother in Seattle told me that yesterday morning, after having his breakfast and coffee as usual, he came to a funeral in his neighborhood and visited his people. He came back around 10 a.m. and said to someone in his family that he felt very tired. He went upstairs and lied on his hammock. No one knew that that was his last time.

About twenty minutes later, the helper at his house found him dead on the hammock. Every thing was so late. My Mom said, according to his younger sister, when she saw him, he face turned very blue.

My Mom said his funeral drew so many people, which I think was obvious thanks to his nature.

My Uncle left this world at 61 with no wife and children. For his whole life, his younger brother said he never visited any doctor nor hospital because he had no disease. My Mom and his younger brother said the way he left us was heartbroken to us but good for him because at least he had no disease to bear.

Goodbye Uncle. I knew now you might be ecstatic up there because since now you reunite with your parents, my great grandparents, your fifth brother and your sister-in-law for good. Only we are wailing because we lost you forever.

I just wished you hadn’t been cremated so that I could visit you when I’m home. I hate cremation. There was no preparation for your departure because no one expected that.

Life is so harsh since I never thought that was the last time. Every time can be the last time.

Rest yourself in peace My Uncle.

(Iwasaki Library, 10/11/2012)

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