I HOPE my cousins aren’t offended, but I always considered Tito (Uncle) Val as the taller, quieter version of my father. They looked remarkably alike, except that Tito Val was nearly half a head taller, and as I said a whole lot quieter.
He possessed a piercing stare and a naughty smile, if you could imagine such a combination. In family gatherings from the earliest years of the 1970s I could tell he ran a tight ship at home, because his kids (Ann Marie, Dennis, Glenn and Marcia) behaved like very young adults surrounded by their rough, rowdy and rambunctious counterparts, namely me and my brothers. It didn’t take much for him to communicate his disapproval to his brood or any other children around, although he did it and acted very subtly. That only added to his mystique during my childhood.
In later years, his exterior softened to reveal a charming, world-wise uncle that I always found interesting to engage with. In conversations, he often stumped me with his pithy one-liners which would require a double-take to parse and analyze, but which I would later realize was both witty and perfect for the occasion.
Because he was so laid-back and unassuming, through the years and decades that I beheld him, I never stopped to notice that Tito Val wasn’t just a cool uncle but also a devoted husband and diligent dad, despite the fact that all that time he had around him as my contemporaries his two sons and two daughters (each outstanding in his/her own way), as well as the love of his life, Tita (Aunt) Marilou. It was such an effortless gig for him to wear three hats, and it’s a bit sad that I never told him about what I remember about him now.
One more thing. Our Tita (Aunt) Lily, the acknowledged head of the extended family, always kept him close not just physically but I guess to pick his brain and solicit his opinion on various matters. It was an unspoken evidence of how valued his counsel was and how important his presence was to our aunt, who was and is a source of strength and support for our entire family. In that sense, I am sure his absence is felt most acutely by the person who has known him the longest.
These and many other fond thoughts I have chosen to set forth in remembrance of Valentin “Val” Bautista, who left us July 30 last year and whose first death anniversary was marked not with mourning but with love and gratitude from his wife, children, sisters, brother, nephews and nieces who will forever treasure his memory.
We remember you always, and thank God for the gift of your life and love.
- nest is half empty but pride is full full (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)