Funny video taken on 9/15/13
We first met at a tennis court in 2006. I was finished hitting with my friends. As they were heading out, you friendly approached me. You talked to me about how you are a private tennis coach, and how you made your two children become great tennis players.
You went on talking as usual. In your wallet, you showed me your precious family photos of you, your wife, daughter, and son. You were always a wonderful storyteller.
You were my tennis coach.
Your goal was to get me playing college tennis for my school, Sonoma State University. In 2010, I tried out my first, and last year for their team. Apparently, I did not make it.
I was frustrated. We had another goal in mind. Keep slowly moving up my tennis rating from 3.5 - 4.0. It was accomplished. In 2014, I had a winning singles record of 8-3, when I played for the city of Benicia's 4.0 (men's) team.
Another goal was to perhaps move me up as a 4.5 player one day.
As our relationship went deeper and closer, we became close friends.
We attended many Golden State Warriors games in 2009-2012. They had a losing record at the time. The upper level tickets were cheap, like $20. We took advantage of it.
Every year from 2009-2011, we watched professional amateur tennis together. It was originally named, "Stead Open," at the time. It was held at Moraga, California. Also, we watched the top girls in America, such as Coco Vandeweghe, and Christina McHale, compete in Berkeley, California. (Coco and Christina are now playing in the pros. College coaches would come over to watch, and recruit the top girls.)
You always loved eating burgers, and especially, your favorite go-to drink, Coca Cola. If we wanted to go cheap, we ate at McDonald’s, or at Costco's food court. Our favorite burger spot was Squeeze Inn at Napa. We were regulars over there. The owner knew.
(Ever since I came at peace with you, we ate at Squeeze Inn. Its owner approached us. He missed seeing us. That was about 3 weeks ago.)
Apparently, Squeeze Inn was far away from us. Instead, we would either eat at In N Out, or the great local burger spot, Bud’s Burger, in Vallejo.
I remember that we went on a quick road trip together. We tagged along my cousin. I drove us to Cal State Fullerton University. We watched your daughter as the opposing women’s tennis head coach as University of Texan Pan-America (at the time) compete against Cal-State Fullerton’s team. (It is about a 6-hour drive to Fullerton.)
You watched my basketball games, and tennis matches. You were my number one supporter. You witnessed some of my heroics in my games, and matches. For instance, you saw me hit a key steal through a passing lane, and made a clutch layup on the other end to seal the basketball game.
More outings together. This letter will be never-ending. You already know.
We always saw each other almost every day. We would either shoot hoops, or hit tennis balls together. After that, we would grab a bite somewhere to eat for lunch. That was our typical day together.
In 2015-2018, I held a grudge on you.
On September 24, 2018, I came at peace with you. We hung out here and there.
On September 30, followed by Squeeze Inn, I took you to Stone Brewing Company for couple of beers. (That was your first time ever at Stone Brewing.) As we were talking, a lady and her man approached you. That was your niece. When they left, you told me, "No wonder, she kept looking across from us."
(On November 8, I spoke a heartbreaking eulogy on your vigil service. At the end of your service, a lady approached me. It was your same niece from Squeeze Inn a few weeks ago. She told me, "You and my Uncle seemed happy together at that night.")
On November 11, your good friend wanted to phone call me. We talked for about 90 minutes. She told me, "Willie, always talked about you. He believed that you had huge potential as a person. He loved you so much."
On November 7, I received a text from your son that you are gone. On November 4, you were reported dead at your house.
The last time I talked to you by phone was on a Tuesday afternoon on October 30, 2018 at 3PST. Your last missed phone call from me was on Wednesday, October 31 at 7:58pm. (My cousin and I were heading to a brewery. We decided to have you join us.)
The last voicemail message from you was on Monday, October 22, 2018. I returned your call right away. I already had plans. Thus, we rescheduled it on October 24, and I tagged my cousin to join us.
(Your voicemail displayed below. It is a 9-second clip.)
You had a huge impact in my life.
Most importantly, being at peace with you is saying goodbye to you, and everybody else. In the end, we are gonna die. We have no idea exactly how, when, and where we will die. We are uncertain when to say goodbye, before he or she dies. That's normal. It's the awareness.
Peace be with you.
I have accepted you being gone. Whenever you are in mind, I reminisce the great moments and memories that we had together. If I was not able to be at peace with you, I would not have accept your death.
I was your student, and good friend.