Tio Angelo

June 4, 2014
By Anonymous

I loved coming to your house after school. You would fall asleep watching Judge Judy in the living room and you would snore SO LOUD and I would get so scared when I’d hear that first roll of thunderous snoring. You’d let me win at Uno every single time because I would get so upset if I didn’t and you never wanted to see me sad.

Remember that time I snuck under the table while you were eating lunch and I tried to tie your shoelaces together except that I didn’t know how to tie shoelaces yet? You tried to teach me, but I didn’t learn until ten years later. You took me to run errands with you. You drove your car with the soft, burgundy seats and the beads hanging from the mirror.

It was hot that day, and your car smelled hot, too. First, we drove to the news stand to pick up the paper and a pack of Tareyton cigarettes. I gave you a sad look saying, “That’s bad for you, Tio Angelo.” You knew I hated you smoking. We parked the car and strolled into Zeppieri’s Bakery. “Which ones do you like?” you said. I pointed to the cookies with the rainbow sprinkles because there were a lot of older people staring at me and I didn’t like talking in public because I was shy. You handed me a cookie with rainbow sprinkles and I almost cried from excitement. You introduced me to everyone whether it be the guy at the news stand, the ladies at the bakery, or random friends from the neighborhood. “This is my niece, isn’t she beautiful?” I’d just smile and hide my face behind my hands.

I don’t come to your house after school anymore. Instead of Judge Judy on television, it’s Tia Rosa’s soap operas and she doesn’t snore half as loud as you. No one lets me win at Uno and no one cares that I’m sad. I know how to tie shoes now, but I’m too big to fit under the table. Your car with the soft burgundy seats and the beads is gone, but I can still remember the specific smell of heat. The Tareyton cigarettes are why you died. You had lung cancer and died on Christmas day 2001. Feliz Navidad. I told you they were bad for you, Tio Angelo. I go to Zeppieri’s and point to the rainbow cookies and the ladies still remember the shy little girl that did the same. I have a picture of you in my wallet. “This is my uncle, he was beautiful.” I can’t help but cry and hide my face behind my hands.

I was extremely close with my uncle and still feel the impact of his life and death. I ponder our existence on earth and my role here and know I will make this world a better, stronger place through helping others with their pain. I am now able to form connections with people of all ages who are difficult for others to reach because of my empathy and sensitivity. Nursing home residents, depressed adults, confused teenagers: I speak to all of them and help them feel connected to life and love. Called to service to help others, I am happiest when I can bring joy to the lives of people who have lost hope. Tio Angelo’s death changed me, altered the course my life would have taken. I am forever grateful that I was blessed enough to know and love my Tio.

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