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
and 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”
then he said 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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