I barely saw my uncle when he was here. I think the last time I saw him was at Christmas. He spent a good chunk of the year going back and forth from the Philippines so I would maybe see him at a birthday party or some other family function when he was in town. But there was a time when I was younger that I saw him almost every day and he was as much a regular part of the family dynamic as mom and dad. My Tito Sergio was the reason my family was able to come to Canada. He was the one that sponsored us to come here to have a better life and I can't even imagine what my world would be like if it wasn't for him. When I think of Tito Sergio, I think of two specific memories. I remember the flight coming here for the first time. Being in a plane felt weird to me. My mom was very pregnant with my youngest brother and my other two brothers sat with my mom and dad. I sat with Tito Sergio and my Tita Laura. The stewardess thought I was their daughter. I drank banana juice and played with the Hello Kitty purse that the stewardess gave me. It said Japan Airlines on it and for the longest time afterward, it was my most prized possession. I was four years old.
The other memory is probably one of my most favourite. When we were kids our family was quite poor. We knew early on that asking for anything, especially toys was just out of the question. Going to a department store and walking by the toy aisles was just torture. There was this one day when I was about six years old, we were at a store and out of nowhere Tito Sergio asked me what I wanted from the toy department. I remember just looking at him not knowing how to respond because no one had ever really asked me that before. He pointed to the toy aisle with all the dolls and told me to pick out what I wanted. I walked up and down that aisle pondering over doll after doll, not knowing which one to choose and worrying that if I picked one, it would be too expensive. So instead of getting a doll which I really wanted, I chose a yellow plastic vanity play set with a hair brush, hand mirror and fake perfume bottle because I didn’t want him to spend too much. My uncle was so patient, I was standing in that toy aisle for what felt like hours and I handed him that set. He kind of looked confused by what I chose and asked me if I was sure that’s what I wanted, and I nodded. He probably thought I was dumb. But I was stoked that he wanted to buy me whatever I wanted, it didn’t matter.
I’m sad that he’s gone. I’m sad that he was taken from us in such a tragic way. And I’m sad for everyone he left behind. I haven’t been able to sleep much and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the town in the Philippines that I used to visit when I was three years old.
Tito Sergio with Nugget on her first birthday.