I can’t help but feel guilty when I see Tito Sisi’s fond smile. I don’t know what’s happened to Tito Sisi’s wife, children or other grandchildren—no one bothers to ask—but Tito Sisi’s living arrangements stand in stark contrast to Papa Lamig’s in Toronto. Papa Lamig is tended by strangers and visited once every two weeks despite living minutes away from his three sons, three daughters and sixteen grandchildren. Meeting Delia makes me want to visit Papa Lamig, give him a hug, hold his hand, read him books and tell him about my day, though even as I think of it I know how silly it will be trying to shower love on a man seemingly so averse to affection.
“I like what you did to the place, Tito,” Dad says again.
Tito Sisi looks around. “I suppose I’ve maintained it well,” he says. “You tell your dad that, Ton. Let him know that I’m taking care of the place, even though he should be the one here. He’s the one that wanted it, after all. I never did.” But his voice lacks all his earlier, angrier conviction. Instead he sounds tired and, for the first time since we’ve started talking, old.