We keep our memories longer than our names. -- Neil GaimanDeath has a way of making the days and weeks vanish in a breath. Just like that.
In truth, I have no idea of the best way to begin this post, but beginnings happen by themselves eventually, just like endings do.
It has been two (three?) weeks since James' dad passed away. It happened so quickly. Thinking of it still makes me feel the inertia of emotion.
In all honesty, Tito Vangie and I did not get to talk very much. I knew very little of him. The short conversations we had were few and far between, and often occurred over drowsy breakfasts, the smell of dried fish, tomato and omelet coaxing my senses awake.
He once reminisced by the breakfast table about forming a band with his cousins when bands were still called combos, and how getting to Cubao seemed terribly easier (albeit in a roundabout way) back in the day. His deep rumbling voice, his eyes lost in their private reverie while we young'uns tucked into eggs and tomato and fried rice. Remembering bygone days made his eyes smile, among many other things.
I remember that.
There'd be days, James said, that whenever Tito Vangie's grand-nephews and grand-nieces would come, he'd scoop them up in his arms, and carry them through the house as much as his back and his legs would let him. He'd remark (as I observe) on the smallest things they'd point out to him in sheer wonder, and somehow, just somehow, the scars and scabs and grizzle of old age would melt away from his face. His cheeks grew pink, and clear. Being with his grand-children made him younger.
I know very little of him, but the little I know, I still remember, and fondly.
It is said that we children are the best parts of our parents put together. Everyday, there is a little bit of Tito Vangie I see in James. It gives me a sense of wonder, and I smile quietly, wistfully. There are parts of James -- his face, his demeanor, his smile -- that say they have secrets, riddles from his father. Secrets I see that I do not understand, but perhaps am not meant to, but to wonder about.
A part of James is a koan, a riddle of his father. I am thankful.
Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.
Goodbye, Tito Vangie. You are loved.