Goodbye, Uncle Johnnie…

Hi all…yeah yeah, some of you are wondering, I’m sure, if I’ve fallen in a hole, but I am alive and kicking…or stabbing as it were if you know me well enough   I feel bad that I’ve not done this in a while, but here is something that I posted on myspace back in March, and I meant to share it on here…It’s okay, you may now bash me over the head *bends over to assume the position…not that position, you perv!*


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


When things like this happen, I’ve never been one to be crying hysterically.  Actually, I rarely ever show any kind of outward emotion.  I don’t know why that is.  I’ve not thought about it once; I just always thought that was how I was supposed to feel. 

But as I’ve gotten older, and people seem to be extremely mad or upset with me because I didn’t cry, it’s become more of a problem for me.

I can remember, barely, when I was 6 years old.  It was June of 1988, and my mom, my cousin Daryl, and his mom my Tia Linda, had just come back from going to Sesame Street Live at the Expo Center.  Me and Mom and Tia Linda had just gone to the grocery store, when my Uncle Kevin ran in.  We were getting stuff for chile con queso, I think.  He told us that my grandma, Gramitas, was at the hospital.  From what I learned later, she was out dancing and collapsed on the dance floor.  I don’t remember going to the hospital, but I remember when everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) was there, and the doctor came out and said that she had died.  I was scared to begin with, but when others started crying and being really upset, I didn’t know what to do.  I remember going into the bathroom in the ER waiting room, and looking at myself in the mirror, and trying to look sad like everyone else was.  I tried to, but I just couldn’t do it.  I think that I didn’t understand what had happened.

Then I remember when I realised what death was, when I was 8 or so.  I cried myself to sleep for a few weeks because I was so scared of dying.  That one day, I might go to sleep and not wake up.  I think it might’ve been my own personal realization of my mortality.  But of course, an 8 year old isn’t going to think about it like that.  I was just scared that everything would go dark someday.  I remember thinking: “What is the point of life if we’re going to be gone anyway?” I know it was something like that, because I remember feeling really helpless.  I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

I never told my parents because I didn’t want them to worry about me.  And I think that is why I react the way I do to death.  I would rather be consoling and comforting people than be crying on someone’s shoulder.

But then I started thinking about other people who would die someday too.  Like my family, my friends, people in my dance group at the time.  It gave me a whole lot of comfort knowing that if they went before me, or vice versa, I would still be with people who love me totally.  I don’t remember when I actually had God in the picture of death.  I mean that when I realised that I would be with Him, and as long as I was with Him, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.

Something similar happened when my grandpa, Pampy, died.  However, it was Mom, Tia Linda, and I that had found him in his home.  I was thirteen, we were supposed to take him to the store, and since it was just us girls, we were going to go out to dinner with him to Village Inn. We had called him, and we had pounded on the door, but we couldn’t get him to come to the door.  There was an old aluminum awning that used to hang, I think, above the front door at some point, in the backyard along the back of the house.  I climbed on top of it to see if I could see into the window.  I still remember Tia Linda calling me “Spiderwoman”… I could see Pampy, but it looked like he was sleeping underneath his blankets…my dad sometimes sleeps like that, cocooned.  My mom used a credit card to open the door.  And I stayed outside, trying to disentangle myself from the awning.  I think my mom yelled at me that something was wrong.  They called 911, and I paced back and forth furiously, saying every prayer I had ever learned.  When the first responders got there, they pronounced him there at his home.  I think that has been the only time I’ve been hysterical.  I was so upset, I remember crouching down on the ground.  I don’t remember much after that.  I remember feeling really numb.

I remember when I was 11, and my great uncle Henry passed away the day after Christmas.  My godmother’s son, Derek, was torn up about it; Uncle Henry was his Nino, godfather, so I did what any concerned family member would.  I helped him in anyway I could, which meant drinking 2 and a half pots of coffee, which I don’t like, to sit with him, so he wouldn’t be alone.

Now that I think about it, I think that was how I felt for most of the funerals I’ve been to.  But I think that I get more upset beforehand, as opposed to being upset when it actually happens.  When my dad’s cousin’s wife, Sandy, passed away after a long, long cancer battle, I cried at the burial a bit.  But two weeks before was when I really lost it.  I was at youth group at ACC, and during prayer requests, I asked that God be with Sandy, as she was being given her last rites.  I broke down.  We were all sitting on the floor, and I remember sitting up against a pillar, Amanda came over to sit next to me on my right and put her arm around me.  Blair sat right against me on my left, and Drew, Brett, and Brittany crowded a little closer to me.  I’ll tell you what, I couldn’t have asked to have better friends than the ones that I have.  I really felt blessed. 

I did get a chance to see my Uncle Johnnie last week.  At first, he didn’t recognize me, but when I told him, “Hi, Uncle Johnnie. It’s Liza.” he said, “Oh, hi, mija.  Lola’s baby. Hi.” My mom told me that at one time he said that there were “beautiful people” in the room…the doctor said he was talking about all of the family members in the room at the time…the said family members knew better: he was probably talking about angels, his mother, father, Pampy, Uncle Henry, and others that had passed on watching him and waiting for him to come home with them. 

Sometimes the pressure of it all feels like it’s going to cause my head to explode.  That and my forehead feels like it’s going to have a permanent scowl…

But aside from everything, I just want people to know that I really do miss the people that leave us…I just don’t show it like everyone else.  The one thing that always comforts me is that I know that they didn’t have to fight too much when they left to go home.  Gramitas died doing what she loved most – dancing – , Pampy died in his sleep, and Uncle Johnnie the same way as well.  And I know that I’ll see them someday…maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe 90 years from now, but I’ll see them eventually.  They’ll be with me and watching me everyday of my life.  These are the people that taught me how to laugh, to live, and to love.  These are the people who taught me that no matter what happens, someone will always be there for me, and I’ll never be alone.

Goodbye, Uncle Johnnie…I love you.


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