Farewell, Papa Joe

Earlier today, I was asked to deliver a testimonial to my Uncle Joe during his interment. I am sharing with you my tribute to him:

Lemony Snicket once said, “It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”

I am not saying that I am Papa Joe’s favorite niece but today let us just pretend that I am 😉

My uncle and I… we share many things in common – aside from our good genes, we share the same love for writing and reading and dry humor.

He was a genius of sorts. He has this wit & jocularity that I cannot compare to anyone else. He may not be good at giving speeches (like me!) but he was an impeccable and brilliant writer.  His writings were flawless – in fact, he even made sure that all the punctuation marks were perfectly aligned. He uses words and expressions that seem foreign to me. In his writings, he mentions names of people I do not know and events that are far beyond my year of birth. So what I do is – I Google it. One time he was sitting in front of me and I was facing my computer, and he asked me if I know Dr. Henry Kissinger. He said he could compare Dr. Kissinger to my late grandfather Godofredo Aujero… as the former was described as the greatest man in his time. I wanted to impress him so I said, “Oh yeaaaah I read about him before (as if I know the guy) – he was an American diplomat and the Secretary of State of Nixon and Ford. And he went like, “It’s good that you know history!” but at the back of my mind I thought, “Thank you, Google!”

Papa Joe and I are actually text mates. He sends me jokes, sometimes updates on his favorite people in sports. He would text me – “Pebs, rise and shine Muhammad Ali is on channel 46, or Pebs tune in to channel 42 my Inday is clobbering Serena.” By the way, he fondly calls Maria Sharapova as his “Inday”.

He was a big fan of America – especially about politics and current events. I could say he was a Republican by heart. Why? Because he campaigned for both John McCain and Mitt Romney during their respective elections. I get messages on updates of their poll standings way faster than CNN and Fox. He was a big fan of their rich history, their culture and way of living, and the United States of America itself.

When my mom retired from the government in 2009, Papa Joe was one of the few who paid her a tribute. In his speech, he described and narrated that theirs is the greatest brother-sister relationship therever is. So, to my cousins, cherish and love each other just like what my mom and papa Joe did.

A few years ago, Papa became one of my sports writers for a website I was managing. On Sportspundit, he wrote articles about Muhammad Ali, Maria Sharapova, and Manny Pacquiao that were published under my name. He also wrote a-15 part biography of his late father and my grandfather, Godofredo Aujero entitled “The Greatest Man in the World.”

Summing up Papa Joe, he was a genius with a very keen memory. You see, most of his writings are based on what he knew, what he read on newspapers and magazines. He knew what the Internet can do but this guy doesn’t even know how to send a mail, left alone research on the Internet. It is the simplest things that could make him happy – like a joke, a text, a cup of coffee or a cinnamon bun. He was a one-of-a-kind, an opinionated and gifted writer, a sports enthusiast, a joker, a storyteller, an entertainer, a loving son and brother, a great family man and father. Just like the title on the memoir he wrote about his father, Godofredo Aujero…. Papa Joe, you are one of the Greatest men I have ever known.

Perhaps if Papa would deliver a speech today, like a proud writer that he is, he would probably say, “So long, farewell. This is Jose C. Aujero, signing off. And by the way, you can find more of my writings at joeaujero.tumblr.com.”

To the man who was an American by heart, to the greatest fan of Muhammad Ali, to the ever faithful admirer of Maria Sharapova, to a great uncle, and perhaps the best writer in our clan, Papa, we love you and we will truly miss you.