Friday, April 23, 2010
I’ll be celebrating my 42nd birthday this coming 26th of April, and my mom’s 66th the next day, together with my Uncle Sam’s 63rd. I have had lots of write ups about me and my mom so many times already, so I won’t go to that for now. This then goes to my beloved uncle.
Samuel Ubas Aguda. My mom’s brother. A teacher by profession, and an extended father to all his nephews and nieces by his own choice. He is gay, penniless (I’ll explain this later), and I’m proud to say publicly that he is my uncle.
My mom is the fourth child of their brood, and Uncle Sam is the fifth. They have a 3-year gap, but they share the same birth date. A twin with a 3-year gap, well, we can put it that way. And that may be the reason that they get along so well.
Everyone’s life; relatives and extended families included, he would touch. He is funny, bubbly, and always a party clown. He never misses to give presents on/for any occasion, how humble it may be. Saying he is so dearly loved is an understatement, while to provide balance to that, and unsurprisingly, some hate him too. But that’s just fair; he isn’t gold or a diamond that everyone would love anyway. He takes no offense anyhow.
He spent all his heydays supporting most of his nephews and nieces. He sent them (me included) to college until they had their degrees. Not full and total support, but he shouldered the greater chunk. No money was wasted, and he treated everyone as his own blood. Being feminine, he would quip that the only difference is no one among us came from his womb. With him as guardian, no one felt away from home.
Admittedly a gay and single all his life, some friends and distant folks alike would picture him out to be ‘self-containing’ and flying free like a butterfly. But instead, he sacrificed his own very self for us. Not for our sins, he isn’t that religious, but from the perspective of another hard life. His rules were so simple; convince him that you are good at what you want to be, and he’ll be good to you too - and he’ll take care of all the rest.
Simply put, there was nothing left for us to do but to do well with our grades, of which we must not fail him – and we didn’t fail him. As a fact, if all our diplomas had to be dedicated to him, all his walls must have been strategically covered by now. But he’s got no walls of his own. He is until now renting a room. He moves around everywhere near the site of his assigned school, and we seldom can visit him due to his always changing addresses. But he never fails to visit us. That’s how we stay connected. It’s all him doing the effort to check on his ‘clout’. That’s so him actually.
As a public school teacher, he only receives a very humble income. He had entered into lots of personal loans, now with compounded interest rates, and most if not any of those didn’t serve him at all. He spent every penny for our (us cousins) schooling. And until now he is still paying back those loans, leaving him of almost a nil paycheck. But he never complains. Always all smiles. He claims to be happy of what he does. And we just can’t fathom how to respond correctly.
When one graduates, he’d pick another ‘scholar’ again, and so on, and yes, up to this moment. No one would approach him whom to choose among his siblings’ kin. He has his own formula. It’s still a puzzle that he does this thing when he should already be looking forward to his retirement plans. No house of his own, no savings, only professional kids that are not his – of which are not yet ‘so made’ to be capable of reciprocating the goodness he has mended them (us). No genius would think that his two remaining years could earn him all he needs when he would no longer be teaching (forced retirement for public school teachers is at age 65).
Of which all these thoughts are coming back to us now. What have we done to this man? Why had he sacrificed all his vigor to better our lives? What motivated him of his wisdom? Is it because he hailed from an extremely poor family, that the long exposure made him so allergy to and so sick from poverty? Boom..! It almost took us forever to find the most apt and fitting answer for that two-cent question.
Now his time is at a dive. Soon he’ll be alone by himself – with only the memories of those little kiddos he had ‘raised’ to become what we are now. Though success is subjective, but comparing to what we were, the leap was just so imminent. I’m hoping for the day that we can repay all the good things he has done. Not on a mathematical basis, but deeper than anything. Though some are showing isolated responses – which he may at times appreciate, I hope we can provide him of all the loving and caress that he deserves for all the kindness that he had bestowed us. Not that he would ask, but because we find it to be our responsibility to give back.
Happy birthday, our dearest Uncle Sam. As you have conquered our feats, we shall forever be loving you with all our hearts; not because you ‘made’ us, but because you are just so lovable, and lovely and all like that. For one, this world is never ever the same without you.