Nov. 20, 2006

gone too soon

a friend of my father died the other day. apparently, he was one of the pilots involved in a recent helicopter crash in nigeria a couple of weeks ago. this struck me because he wasnít just any other former colleague my father had ó this pilot was a friend of his.

tito james was wyloís godfather. we had pictures together. in company christmas parties, random dinners, that sort. we were *that* kind of family friends. they were there when my mother died, they stayed during the wake for more than a couple of nights. we were those kind of family friends. his wife was particularly fond of my brother. their youngest child is barely out of elementary. we were friends, his family and mine. he was a good man.

they used to work together for a government-owned and controlled corporation. most of the time, they went on flights together. i was under the impression that my father trusted him, and daddy knew a few things about trusting people. this bolstered my personal opinion that tito james was indeed a good man. he had my dadís back, and my dad had his ó well, actually, when my father still flew planes, he had everybodyís back anyway, gamely reporting for flights even at the shortest notice. and apparently, so was tito james. he and my father were good men, and good men made good friends.

i didnít know he had signed up for a commercial airline in nigeria until my dad told me he was in fact in the ICU of a nigerian hospital because of a helicopter crash. this was last week, when i came home for my motherís 9th death anniversary.

my sister told me last night that he had already passed on.

it saddened me because i really liked him. he was my fatherís friend, and my father wasnít flimsy with his relations, the quiet man that he is. i liked him. he was my brotherís godfather. his wife is super kind. his kids are around my age.

he was younger than my father by a couple of years. i think what struck me more was the fact that, on any other given unfortunate turn of events, the pilot in that position could have very well been my own dad.

no more flying for you daddy. youíre staying home. take care of fish.