My Uncle Yong, or Kuya, as I’ve called him my whole life passed away this morning after a enduring a long series of medical complications. He was at peace with his life and his faith and told my aunts that he was prepared, but it’s still a big loss.
I called him Kuya, which is what my dad called him. It’s the Filipino term of endearment for big brother and it would’ve made more sense if the age gap between us was around five years instead of fifty. But that’s what everyone else in my life was calling him and he didn’t mind when I took it on myself.
When he heard I had a book coming out last year, he told me he wanted a copy- “to put on my desk and to show off” he told me. Even cooler than the book itself to him, was a chance to brag about his nephew. What a great uncle! I wanted to make sure his wish came true while he was still here, so when my first batch of proof copies came in from the printer I signed one “this one’s for your desk!” and sent it straight to Ohio.
The last I heard from him was right after I got married. It was with a card and a check, like he was faithful to send for every single occasion of my childhood. I know he really wanted to be at the wedding. He did get to meet Deanna, though, when this picture was taken three years ago in California. It was the last time I got to see him and a very happy get together.


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