My name is Virginette Acacio and I’m here on behalf of a group of very old friends to the Salgado family called the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen originally started as a group of parents who loved to dance and play mahjong, while us their kids would run around, play and try to keep from getting in trouble. Apart from hanging out nearly every single weekend, we also did everything together: from camping trips, road trips to Canada and Mexico and grand vacations to the Caribbean. And though none of us are blood-related, I think we can all say with resounding pride that yes – we ARE family. And Ate Chin was the heart of that family.
Ate Chin was older than us kids of the group, so we didn’t consider her as one of us. She was our collective older sister. And like a good older sister, she watched over us and took care of us. When none of us could drive, she would pack us all in her car and take us on outings to San Francisco or to the mall and movies. And whenever we were in public with her, we’d do our best to embarrass her by acting immature by screaming and calling her “Mommy,” at the top of our lungs.
And as older sisters are, she was the classic snitch. She was the one who would report to the parents if one of the girls was dating someone new, or if one of the boys was hurting one of the other boys. When we were in high school, we got in trouble for drinking at a house party and not surprisingly, it got back to her. She ran to our parents in tears, crying and we all got in a lot of trouble for it. I remember being angry at her for doing that and thought, why would she cry about getting us in trouble? Thinking on it now, I realize she was heartbroken, she didn’t want to see her little brothers and sisters doing things like that at such a young age.
I used to think she was just always out to get us- but what she was really trying to do was to keep us in check. She wanted to do right by us. Like a mother hen, she wanted to always protect us and make sure we grew up right. I look around to the DD kids who are in this room now and they are still my very best friends – and some of the most kindhearted, compassionate and good people I know. I know that we were shaped by her and we are so much better for it. Chin, you did good. And all of us are eternally grateful.
About a week before she died, I finished reading a book called, “The Fault in Our Stars.” It’s a story about two young kids with cancer who fall in love. One of the things it talks about it is that when we think of someone who’s died, there’s a sense of finality – an end. And because that person is no longer here, we talk about him or her in the past tense. She WAS a good person or he WAS a good father. When I think of those phrases, I can’t think of a worse way to remember someone. For me, Chin doesn’t live in the past. She lives here now, in the present, in our collective memory and in our hearts, affecting every single moment, how we live and how we love.
She wasn’t Auntie Grace and Uncle Ed’s daughter. She IS Auntie Grace and Uncle Ed’s daughter. She IS Jay-R’s big sis. She IS Wesley’s love. And most importantly, she IS and always will be Yna and KaeKae’s beautiful and ageless mother.
She IS our friend, our cousin, our niece, our aunt, and for me my big sister. Ate Chin, goodbye for now. Thank you for watching over us as we grew up. I know that you will continue to watch over us from where you are. We love you – present tense.