In Memory of My Second Uncle HNB

Renaissance, 2002. Digital painting by Hoang Ngoc Bien

Death is closer to me
after every funeral I’ve attended.

He died and was cremated today
leaving behind a legacy,
a series of smiles,
paintings, and books.

The first time I saw him in the US
he asked what animal sign I was
I replied “the ox”.
He remarked “people
born in the year of the ox
are smart”.

Years later I found out
he was also born in the year of the ox
then I understood how witty
he was

When he relocated from Utah to California
he converted the garage into a home library
filled with thousands of books
stacked in layers of bookshelves
from the floor to the ceiling.
His friends came and visited him there
never left without taking a picture
posing in the garage cum library.

He told me he was free
“from now until death”
whenever I called him before
driving there for a visit.
He was always joking
and witty like that

My husband and I went to Santa Cruz
We walked and took pictures
and talked
in the mist of his memory,
and the strong waves at the beach.

His second grandchild was born
probably today, or yesterday.
And so life goes on
in a cycle
just like that.

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