Uncle Bob passed on as he moved in life—quickly.
After a massive heart attack, he was cremated and buried before the beginning of what Chinese culture calls the Ghost Month, the 7th lunar month of the year, or August 3-31 in 2016.
He was gone too fast, way too fast; we regret not having had the chance to say goodbye or see him one last time. But that is not to say we can’t grieve his passing, because we do.
Two to three times a year, Uncle Bob would break bread with Tony and me. Those events were usually celebratory and therefore over authentic Chinese lauriat—Lunar New Year, Mooncake Festival, and someone’s birthday/anniversary on Tony’s side of the family.
One could tell when Uncle Bob had arrived. He would briskly come and greet us, with anecdotes to narrate. Around a table of usually quiet diners, his voice would prevail. But that is not the only thing that made Uncle Bob a bigger-than-life character for me.
He was a—let me invent a word that is not in the dictionary—carer. He selflessly cared so much for others he would serve them in big-little ways. He would immediately stand up from where he sat to assist an elderly cousin all the way to the bathroom (as often as necessary), or pile dishes he thought were good on someone’s plate, or patiently guide and see to his wife’s needs who has recently been showing signs of dementia, plus many more acts of caring.
Conversations about health had him saying, “My medical exams are always perfect, and I eat anything.” This octogenarian was on no maintenance pills and had zero problem with his weight. He was lean, almost scrawny, and lithe.
There is no telling, however, how long or short our life on earth is or will be. Uncle Bob was feasting with us, with gusto, flitting back and forth between buffet dishes at the Shangri-la Hotel just two months ago.
To uncle Bob’s wife, children and grandchildren, let me just say, I am grateful beyond words for the privilege—through Tony—of knowing a quick-witted, fast-acting carer, and of being a part of his circle.