My uncle passed away the second sunday of January, 2013. He was just 62 years old.
Our family used to be close. He was the second among their family, with my dad being the youngest. Sickly when he was growing up, he had a small build and a kind demeanor. My grandparents used to favor him among all, and opted to live with his family when they all got married.
Nony Lim, or “Dipe” as we call him, was the middle child. His older brother, Robert, suffered from stroke when we were still young. His other sibling was my father, who died of heart attack almost two years ago.
Unlike his siblings, Dipe was the white sheep of their family. He was the only one who didn’t stray from his wife, and strived to work hard amidst all the difficult circumstances to provide for his family. My father was the dreamer, the happy-go-lucky one, and Dipe seemed to be the serious pessimistic one, who simply went along with all the whims and antics my father could think of.
I can still remember the my very first day in school when I was 3 years old. It was Dipe who brought me to school. I saw my other classmates crying as their parents bade them goodbye. I wanted to cry myself, but I didn’t, because I was afraid my Dipe would get mad if I had. I could still remember that at that young age, I created an imaginary scene in my head that my parents gave me away, asked my strict and tight lipped uncle to dispose of me in the “institution”, and I pretended that the school gate was a prison gate that prevented me from escaping.
Years passed and I grew older and overcame my fear of him. From kinder to early elementary days, I would have my lunch at their house. My cousins, Alan, Glen and G-Ann were my constant playmates.
Sadly, as we grew older, we drifted apart. We grew so far apart that we became strangers. Those pocketful of memories were the only thing I remember about my interaction with their family. We didn’t go on trips or celebrate happy occasions together.
When Robert, my “a-pe” suffered from stroke, I could only remember visiting his house once. Then nothing at all.
It’s just sad that among their family, the youngest died two years ago, the second died a few days ago, and the eldest was paralyzed long time ago, and yet is now the only one who remained alive.
I’m moved by Dipe’s sudden death, caused by liver failure and acute leukemia, because he didn’t tell us that he was sick. In fact, he didn’t know that he was dying. He wanted to get well so badly, because he didn’t want to leave his wife all alone. He was a simple man with a simple life, and he died peacefully, with Christ in his heart.