Last Tuesday, my husband's great-uncle (father's mother's brother) Binh died. A life-long bachelor, he was either 84 or 89 (it's unclear, because he might have lied about his age many decades ago to avoid being drafted by China's Red Army), and he died unexpectedly after a three-day hospital stay for dehydration.
I am sadder than I first realized about Kau Gong dying. In the early days of my relationship to my husband, he was my favorite member of the family. I never received any dissecting looks or cold shoulders from him. On one of my holiday visits to the husband's family pre-engagement, Kau Gong gave me dozens of little papier-mâché vases and flowers he crafted. It was a hobby he apparently continued until the very end, because after he died, my in-laws found pieces and pieces of cut and folded magazine paper littered around his room in their basement.
He never let my husband leave without giving him a $5, $10 or $20 bill. Even the last time we saw him over Labor Day weekend, he slipped my husband, a corporate attorney, an Andrew Jackson. My husband knew him too well to try and give it back. On that final visit, he also did a few magic tricks for the kids, still young enough to look in awe at the bright and shiny quarter that seems to appear out of nowhere. During his eulogy, my husband said: "I forgot to ask him about his magic tricks." The world has lost a gentle, loving, quiet man.
How many quiet men are there? He was one of the very few I've ever met. May he rest in peace.