Pictures taken from Virginia back in 1992. My family did not take much pictures. This is all I can find of you in the photo albums. Sorry, Uncle.
1st picture is Grandpa Sator (My dad's uncle from his mom's side), me, my sister, and Uncle Romelo.
2nd picture is Grandpa Sator, my dad, me, and Uncle Romelo.
For readers, Uncle Romelo is my dad's youngest brother.
Dear Uncle Romelo,
In 1993, my dad petitioned you at 21 years old to come here from the Philippines. You lived with me and my family (my sister and parents) at Portland, Texas. At the time, I was only 6 years old.
I remember you told me, "Michael, punch me on my abs as hard as you can." This is the first time you introduced me to a 6-pack.
Every day, you did about 100 pushups. You told me, "Sit on top of my back, while I do my pushups."
2 years later, my dad was stationed to California, for the reason that he was still working for the US Navy. We moved to California, while you stayed in Texas for your job.
My family and I wanted you to live with us again. We missed you. By car, we surprisingly visited you in Texas. Then, we drove you to California with us. This happened in 1999 a bit after Tim Duncan won his first NBA championship. You would always bring up Tim Duncan.
We had our mutual interests together, such as playing and watching basketball.
You were a big brother to me. You were 15 years older than me.
We started to bond more as we grew older together.
After school, I always challenged you in a basketball game of 1-on-1 on my backyard. We had our epic battles. The winner is the first one to get 100 points. A basket consisted of a 2-pointer or 3-pointer. You did beat me most of the time.
You always drove me to basketball parks. We always teamed up together for a game of 2-on-2 against random strangers. Clearly, we were the shortest. I was a skinny 5'1, while you were a ripped 5'2. (Now, I am 5'5.)
My offensive game was a driver and passer, while you were the catch and shoot guy. (To this day, I am more comfortable to drive or pass the ball than take a jump shot. My driving and passing has improved more than before. Thank you, Uncle.)
You did everything for me. You defended the best player. You crashed boards. I only dished dimes and drove towards the basket.
Opponents laughed at us. They underestimated us. We were the underdogs. We hustled more than our opponents. (It is good to be an underdog, since we have nothing to lose.)
I remember you told me to create a customized player on Sega Dreamcast video game, NBA 2K. (I still have the video game console and NBA2k game as well.) I made you customize your guy. You chose the height, skill, weight, and etc. Your customized player was a dominant point guard. Nobody can guard him. I played him, while you watched his dominance. I offered you to play, but you wanted to watch instead.
Also, we always watched televised NBA games together.
Whenever you drove and changed lanes on the road, you always told me, "Crossover."
You had a huge celebrity crush on Britney Spears.
My sister and I were heading to school. My sister could not clearly see through her car windshield, due to the heavy sunshine, while she was driving. She accidentally hit the right curbside. It resulted to a flat tire.
You came to the rescue. You replaced the flat tire for us.
Our bond started to fade when you moved out of the house in 2002. You had an argument with my dad. I witnessed it. You just walked away from my dad. Most importantly, you rarely get mad at people. (Now, I do not point fingers at anybody. It is nobody's fault.)
From what I saw, it seemed like you wanted your space.
That was the last time I saw you.
You moved into your sister's place with her family.
During this time, it was hard to contact you. No smart phones yet.
About a year later, it was 9:30ish pm on a Saturday. I had relatives from San Diego visiting me and my family. I stayed home with my cousins, while we watched movies together. The rest of my family and the grandparents were on their way to visit you, your sister (my auntie), and her family. This happened on May 17, 2003.
(Right now, I am in tears while I write this letter to you.)
This was the last time my family saw you.
I am still watching movies with my cousins in the living room. Then, I unexpectedly received a phone call from my dad at around 11:30pm.
He told me, "Son, your sister is gone. Uncle killed her. He stabbed her many times. I am at the hospital right now."
I was in denial. I could not believe it. I was speechless. I had so many "what ifs" in my mind. I should have been there.
Then, I went straight to the altar at my parents' room. I prayed until my parents came back home at around 2am. My dad was in his white hospital gown.
You murdered my sister, and you wounded my dad with a few stabs.
A few years after this tragic incident, you wrote a letter to me and my parents. My family and I were still mourning. Our heads were not fully functioning. We were mentally unstable at the time. We hated you.
We opened your letter, and we read it. I do not completely remember the letter from start to end. It was an apology letter from you to us. Sadly, we sealed the letter, and mailed it back to you.
On June 17, 2008, you committed suicide at Napa State Hospital. According to stories I have heard, you hung yourself to death.
You are a good man. You did not mean to do it. You were in shock, like everybody else, when you saw my sister slowly dying on my dad's arms. You froze until the cops came for you. You just snapped.
I love my dad, but we had our disagreements when I was younger. (You are not the only one.) We always had our arguments. You witnessed it.
Now, I am understanding who people are. I cannot force them to change. I make my adjustments in connecting with people. I do not get into fights with my dad anymore.
Now, I continue on being humble to others, or else I might give them another hard battle.
I apologize for not reaching out to you after we parted ways.
Uncle, I forgive you.