I was on hiatus. And as the days and weeks passed, it seemed easier not to get back to the blog and post one of the many entries I have photos and material for… I have recently felt that social media has gone just a bit too far, and my instagram posts of food (along with those of billions of others) just reduce things to a millisecond of attention, rather than the longer posts more common on the blog. I feel we all have such shortened attention spans, and while it’s nice to have everything so instant, I wonder about the lack of depth. At any rate, I was mulling all this when I got the following email from the daughter of long-time reader/commenter “Silly Lolo”…
Hello! My name is Veronica Montes, and I’m the daughter of the late, great Norman Delfino Montes or, as he was known on your blog, “Silly Lolo.” This message is long overdue; I’ve started to write it many times in my head, but getting to the keyboard was another matter altogether. It is now more than 2 years since Dad passed away, but my heart is still cracked wide open, and tears spring to my eyes at the smallest provocation. I’m typing through them now.
Dad was hilarious, as you well know, and today for some reason I was especially missing his hijinks and kooky sense of humor. I was thinking of how infuriated he would be that California’s crab season has been ruined by some horrible thing in the water (an acid of some sort, I believe), and of the long conversations we would have had about it. I once found him outside our house racing live crabs down our garden path as my then 3-year-old twins screamed with delight. Then, of course, he came inside to cook the crabs, and the screams were no longer ones of delight! He thought that was pretty funny.
I know that Dad’s “voice” has been just a Google search away—all I had to do, after all, was type in “silly lolo” + “market manila”—but until today I hadn’t been able to bring myself to actually look. I’m so happy I did. When I finished reading through all of the comments he made on your blog (was he not the most insane person ever?!) and all of the responses to his comments, I knew I couldn’t put off writing to you any longer.
Thank you. Thank you for the wonderful Market Manila and for indulging my sweet, peculiar father and his ribald sense of humor. You may have surmised by now that his appearance at Market Manila coincided with the beginning of his often quite painful end. He lived vicariously through your photographs and writing (increased to jumbo size on his computer, of course), and was thrilled by the online camaraderie supplied by you, Betty Q, Connie, Lee, Artisan Chocolatier, and the others. I think you all increased the length of his life by at least a year with your invitation to an epic feast in Cebu. He was SO excited. He planned in earnest and fantasized quite a bit before he gave in to the reality of his failing health. In a more perfect world, I would have brought him myself, and I think I may even have let him eat what he wanted! My mother, though, requires my daily care, so it just wasn’t possible.
In case you’re curious, I’ll tell you just a little about Dad: he was smart and kind, generous and wise—truly the best father and lolo anyone could ask for. He loved my mother, Frank Sinatra, food, and family. He was a fisherman, a maker of model airplanes, and a builder of boats and cars. He had impeccable penmanship. He watched the nightly news, football, the Indy 500, and the Tour de France. He was addicted to shoes, outerwear, and magazines—addictions that he passed on to his three children. Also, he was a big fan of M&M’s.
My best to you and your readers, Veronica p.s. Here is a link to one of my favorite photos of Silly Lolo: Link here.
The email smacked me hard on the face, almost with the force of a fishpan. A sense of loss for someone I have never met, but who certainly felt like family. Over the years, I have received several poignant emails, but these ones to let me know that a reader has passed away (I actually knew this a few months after it happened, as another reader, Ley had written in to let me know) are the most difficult to read.
Over the years, the marketmanila community has been, by many measures, a rather formidable one. Intelligent, wry, humorous, sharing, tolerant, intolerant, cosmopolitan, international, generous, funny and so much more. I have been remiss recently, and haven’t kept up posts to keep the conversations going. But this email from Veronica certainly makes me want to write again, despite all the other commitments and distractions. Even if only for a small audience. But a quality audience.
Thank you, Veronica, for your email. And please accept our deepest condolences, despite the passage of a couple of years time since Silly Lolo passed away. I am quite certain that your father is making folks laugh where he is today and I hope he watches over your mother, you and your family with the same love and respect that you so clearly display for him.
Note: To readers, I requested permission from Ms. Montes to publish her email. And while I offered to remove names, she was quite happy to leave them all in, so everyone would know who “Silly Lolo” was…