Goodbye, Daddy Pol

There was a time in a my life when I’d spend most of my free days visiting the wake of my friends’ relatives. There was a particular year when someone really close to me lost both of his grandparents, who also served as his guardians growing up since his parents live in the city.

I sure shed a tear or two.

It’s just a matter of time. That’s what my grandmother says. Whenever someone dies, she always tells me not to cry so much because I should reserve my tears for her. It’s her joke, but it’s not a bit funny. Through the years, I learned to live with it anyway. Just the thought of Nanay gone makes me cry. I know my siblings and cousins feel the same way.

The past year was quite eventful. A number of relatives passed away. I live in a relatively small town, so somehow my family’s connected to some other families in one way or another. My parents, grandmother and uncles and aunts basically know a lot of people in town.

That’s from my mother’s side. We are pretty tight there because I grew up with them and we do have regular get togethers that don’t only extend to the immediate family but to the entire clan of my grandparents.

Just last month, my father’s uncle — to whom he was really close — passed away. I do remember him a lot and my father talks about him so much, I learned more about him from my parents’ stories than from my actual experience. I missed one important occasion before he died. It was sad. The next time I saw the relatives from that side was when he died.

So, deaths. As I have told some friends before, I am really close to my relatives from my mother’s side. I grew up not only with my immediate cousins around, but also with some my second cousins who live just a few blocks away.

There was a phase in my life when I spent every single day of summer vacation with my second cousins — because my immediate ones don’t live in town and they just visit every now and then. So growing up, I pretty much spent a lot of days in the houses of relatives.

I received the news just a few minutes ago. We call him Daddy Pol. He was my grandfather’s brother. They look and dress alike. Among my polo’s siblings, they were the only ones who resemble each other.

He’s old, about 90+, if I may guess. So it’s just a matter of time. The last time I saw him was a couple of months ago, when I paid them a visit. He barely remembered me.

The thing is, I was used to having him around. Every Christmas since I was a kid, we go to his house after the morning mass. We feast on whatever food there is and share stories and just spend quality time with Daddy Pol, Mama Aling, three of their children who are always there and our cousins and nephews and nieces. Christmas is like a mini reunion of sorts, when we talk about things and bond over chocolates and chips. Daddy Pol lets us kiss his hand and gives us 20 pesos — because that’s the tradition! No more, no less. For the past few years, he ask for our names and our parents’ names. He barely remembers. He forgets a lot of things. Nonetheless, it was still Daddy Pol. Sometimes moody, but always there, watching out for people, taking care of Mama Aling.

He wouldn’t mind if we stay late at night at his house. His house is like everyone else’s house.

I can’t help but feel sad. I wish I am there right now. I wish I can hug them and see Daddy Pol at this moment. I will miss him, definitely. I will miss passing by his house while he is at the terrace. I will call his name and he will just smile. I will miss seeing him around. Christmas will not be the same without him.

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