Uncle Jose: Thirsting a Man’s Presence

Grief is in the air. What with all the ghastly news of murders and massacres we intuitively associate with MEN. Let’s tweak the issue a little bit. Men-victims of domestic violence seem a silent statistic, isn’t it? My Uncle Jose’s death was a case in point. I was not in his funeral rite nor have visited his grave yet and so I have been wanting to honor him in a small way through this tribute, while keeping in mind also the silent men-victims of domestic violence. Do souls read blogs also?

You were a man of short stature, burly and big-hearted. You were a model of compassion but also a family icon of disciplined ambition. Your life’s vision was as sharp as the command of your eyes; the steps to your dream, as snappy as your gait.

How else will I remember you except with admiration. I admire you foremost for taking charge of your life, and for your heroic journey to break free from the bondage of inherited male complacency. Yes, at a young age, I noticed you joining those drinking spree but only to celebrate from your abundance over your favorite wild boar’s meat. You were the male disciplinarian, with my flighty father often at the hot seat of your brotherly rebuke. To anybody you can be as straightforward as a steady judge. But you can be concern as a loving confessor. You were quite an integrated man.

Why you married in your 40s was not within my childhood curiosity yet. Perhaps as a dreamer, you had more control of your sexual impulse than any of the men in the family. I suppose you had your mind set on the way out of the cycle of complacency, of the wayward trend of family resources wastage, of the alcoholic alter ego, of the demeaning pull of poverty, or of the mess of marriage. Your delayed marital decision did not speak it seems of a poor aesthetic judgment. Assuming it was your free choice, you settled with a bonny mestiza rural girl way younger than you. You must have been ingenious in so many ways in that remote hometown of your wife. Slowly, I witnessed your shift of status from a run-of-the-mill construction employee to a rattan-enriched busybody. You were coming home blithe and bestowed with extra esteem. As a teen, I had breathed in your aura of confidence. There could be no smarter and sleeker man in the family above you. There was jubilation every time you rejoined the family during Christmas or town fiesta. You were always generous of your blessings and this generosity alone commanded respect from among your family and friends. My most vivid of your generous and sensitive spirit was how you bought my class awards and test scores every yearend. I remember how I would doggedly keep those exams because they were potential financial incentive upon your visit.

How you managed your wealth-generating rattan business in that remote place is beyond my retelling. There were only patches of stories about your praiseworthy demeanor in your business dealings, with your trademark soft-voiced diplomacy among the native rattan gatherers and your big-time buyers. I only heard the high level of your likeability among those you work with, evidenced by your being catapulted into a political office. Indeed, your success was as huge as those shiploads of rattan you supplied for your clients. I salute you for breaking frontiers!

Ah, but success, often, is escorted by the serpentine seduction of Satan. It is self-defeating for those ego easily swelled by its seeming eternal surfeit.The most evil of all happened to you, in the middle of your life of service and success: the total betrayal of your wife and your right hand guy who, in an adulterous connivance had murdered you. It was a couple of grotesque photos I received back in college – your body sprawled and bathed with your own blood in your own domicile. I couldn’t believe it – how the perpetrators could swelter with those relentless stabs of anger, horror, vile, ingratitude…of demonic force to the abysmal degree. God, forgive them. Your death simply silenced me in a painful way and for years.

“When we meet love, we kill love,” wagered theologian Brendan Lovett on the innocent death of Jesus. Perhaps, you loved enough to be hated; you loved enough at your life’s expense. I believe you did. You died as a good man, father, uncle and friend but not the kind of death you deserve. Do I have the calming answer to your fate? I can only hope you now are enlisted in the League of the Nailed Innocents.

I apologize for this long overdue tribute; grief at that time was a word foreign to me. Over the years, I am learning its art and necessity. Please know I miss your big man’s heart for the world. May your peaceful spirit joining Great Spirit intercede for us – men who are still trying to break from the small and big bondages of this world.

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