This is your great-grandpa, Steven Reyes.
This photo was probably taken after his return home from one of his wife-hunting trips in the Philippines.
I don't have many memories of my grandfather.
Just that he always had a toothpick in his mouth. He made a sucking sound as he licked his teeth clean after meals. He wore white v-neck undershirts tucked into pants, belted high on his middle. He was handsome and charming. And easy to hug.
Then there are the stories. Ones I've been told about his immigration experience, his work, his relationships with his children. And ones that I remember.
Most of the ones I remember revolve around the crazy ladies he married.
There were three in total. My grandmother, who he dutifully, loyally and lovingly stood by for as long as he could handle her Crazy.
Then there was Tessie who I have no memories of, since she died in a car accident on my second birthday. But, she managed to spend all my grandfather's money, so thanks to her, I have a couple of nice pieces of jewelry.
Last, he married Nila, who spent all my grandpa's money a second time around. Unkinan and I have fond childhood memories of her, mostly because she spoiled us and let us put soy sauce on our rice. Which real Asians do not do, btw.
Also, she was the same age as your Lola. Doh.
She moved him away to San Diego to live with her sister after all the money was spent. We visited him there a couple of times when I was a teenager.
The last time I saw him, he was dying of cancer. Nila called us to let us know, but not until the end. I drove Lola down to San Diego to visit him during one of my summers home from college. We held his hand as he lay in his hospice bed. We did our best, clenching our teeth, smiling and nodding, trying to be nice to Nila.
I drove Lola from place to place, making arrangements for Grandpa's death, based on Nila's, not my grandfather's, unyielding requests, an expensive casket, a burial plot in a Catholic cemetery.
I thought to myself, Grandpa doesn't want or care about these things.
But, in the bigger picture, he did.
I don't mean to cut Nila ANY amount of slack. She wasn't the worst person in the world, but when she moved Grandpa away from us, it sort of sealed her fate as The Eternally Evil Step Mother in the family narrative.
What I mean to say, is that my grandfather, as many Visayan men are known to be, was a softy. I don't ever remember him yelling at or disciplining us. He teared up in sorrowful and joyous moments. He was empathetic. Happy if you were happy. He was a doormat. He would bend over backward for, especially, the women he loved. He loved love.
He lives on in your Unkinan and Uncle Bruce a little.
And so, I'm sure his dying wishes and those of the woman who loved and cared for him at the end of his life, were one in the same.
Lola will kill me for saying that. Since she and her siblings got stuck with the cemetery bill.
I don't know where Nila is now, but for Grandpa's sake, I sure hope she's happy. (Can be taken both literally and sarcastically. Your choice. Like a choose your own adventure!)