I didn’t have the privilege of knowing you for a super long time, but the time that I did have with you was very dear and precious to me.
I remember RJ prepping me before the first time we met back when RJ and I were dating. He told me that you were particularly protective over who your grandkids dated, which of course made this little Asian girl very nervous! But I also knew that you would be a good man because you cared that much for your grandkids.
When I met you, you were just a jolly old man with white hair and a white beard, sweet and kind as could be, who was immediately so welcoming to me as RJ’s first girlfriend, and later, as part of the family. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but you kind of reminded me of a grumpier Santa Claus. I think word might have gotten back around to you though, when on a later trip you referred to yourself as Santa Claus. Oops. :)
I was just told this by RJ’s cousin when we were reminiscing about the first time I met you, but it just made my heart so glad to hear that when I got up to go to the bathroom at that Chinese restaurant, you gave RJ the thumbs up for me. And I never felt anything less than that from you in the entire time that I knew you. You welcomed me as family, and I became no different to you from blood-relatives, not even being able to claim exemption from the “Daily women back-up singers” in your rendition of “Bye Bye Blackbird” at RJ’s cousin’s wedding.
We instantly connected over our love for music, specifically, our love for stringed instruments. I still remember that first night we met, when you came down the stairs with that Asian-y stringed instrument, which unfortunately, I couldn’t help you identify. But I just absolutely loved that I could talk real music with you, and that you’d completely understand what I meant. I just wish that I had a chance to see you in action with your jazz band. Man, you would have loved playing with them at your celebration!
You were such a smooth, dapper, handsome, and charismatic man. You could make friends with anyone so easily and just jump in on any jazz band and know every word of a song. But you were funny and ornery too! Like that time when I told you how handsome you looked, and you just looked at me and growled like a cranky old man. But I know that you kind of liked it. :)
You’ve touched and invested in the lives of not only your family, but your former students and your friends as well. And you are remembered for your words of wisdom and your inspiration, even decades later.
Your children and your grandchildren all love you and display the different facets of who you are. Your fierce loyalty. Your unconditional love. Your care for others. Your humor and wit. Your charismaticism (?). Your love for music. Your protectiveness over loved ones. Your morals. Your love for games. Your intolerance for BS. Your mercy. Your tender love and care for your wife. And if any of us could encompass even half of the man you were, we would already be good people. Because you were a great man.
You will be greatly missed here on earth, but we know that you are walking with your Creator in heaven now, with no more sadness, no more pain, and no more questions.
So in the words of Michael Scott, “Goodbye, Toby. See you later.”
You are loved and you are missed, and until we see you again, we hope to carry on the great legacy that you left behind.