TONY FLORIDO, 65: A good friend
Death of a friend diminishes a person and definitely, even his perception of happiness.
Just this year alone, I have a handful of friends who crossed over. Some of them felled by assassin’s bullets, but most of them were claimed by ailments. I could feel what my father felt when he celebrated his 86th birthday when none of his friends showed up for the shower. All of them were goners (most of them even before reaching 70) and I could see the blank face and the gloomy eye of the celebrant.
Losing a friend is always tragic in terms of emotional fulfillment. It is like having a memory failure. Friends maintain a bulk of nostalgia, something that cushions a person from trauma, something that complements delight. When they depart, a portion of one’s self-actualization vanishes too.
I should have written something about the man while he was still alive. He loves to read and something that would pertain to him would be a grand treat. I could just imagine that he would be tickled pink when I would disclose something that would border on our adventures. But I overlooked it. I thought that cautious as he was, he would never be afflicted nor would meet any accident that would reduce his lifespan. I was wrong and was very sorry.
Tony has been my close-in staff whenever I am in Manila during my provincial assignments. This would date back since 1994. Our association would last up until 2013, a good 19 years. And my recollection of the man is his fixation if not overzealous concern for his health and personal safety. He was after all my driver-confidant for almost 2 decades and I depend a lot from him in terms of transportation and guide. He must always be glowingly healthy.
He never had any vice except occasional smoking. His thoughts almost saintly partially a reflection of brotherly influence since his elder sibling is a priest. He is witty and reads a lot. He can easily pick up an idea or can differentiate anything silly. And the sound of his laughter can be heard half a kilometer away. He rejoices in anything that promotes intelligence. He knew he was that smart.
He was virtually a part of my family. And one who would never admit that he was old. As a matter of fact, I never saw him pluck out a Senior Citizen ID when buying something. He wanted to project that he was still youthful, agile and even athletic. He never had no inkling of death and believed that he was good up to 100.
He would accompany me whenever I would mourn a member of my family and even accost me in attending the wake of friends. He was there beside me during those trying times. He was my comfort zone whenever I am stressed in my work in the prison service. He was my canned hilarity in all my jokes. And he would prepare for the punchlines by medicating so that he won’t suffer high blood due to sudden laughter.
That was how we were. We traveled a lot. We scouted for the best chow in town. We excitedly took selfies in great spots. We shared a lot of stories. And he would always prod me to tell more jokes.
When I retired, I never had a chance of visiting him. I stayed down south and our communication was through facebook only. And for quite a time, he would manifest his presence through comments in my blogs. I knew he was there and he would in return post pictures of his travels in Singapore where the family of his daughter resides. He would gamely send pictures of his trips to the Visayas, where he came from. Until I noticed that he would seldom post and that he might have migrated to Canada where his son’s family had transferred. Well, good for him.
Then came the post from his timeline that he is gone. I felt that a significant part of me disappeared. I felt that the 12 hour daylight became 10 and that the remaining parts were mostly gloomy and disconsolate. That was what it was when losing a friend like Tony felt like. A part of me dies too.
On the other hand, his memory is constantly celebrated by his family and friends—those whom he served wholeheartedly.