When I was 4, I was crazy about Milo.
One night, we ran out of my favorite drink. Already accustomed to having a warm cup of it before bedtime, I was so devastated. I even cried.
Good thing, my Uncle Leo was there. He tried to pacify me by telling me we’d buy lots of Milo the next day. A truckload of it. I stopped crying. The idea of having that much choco malt drink all to myself also thrilled me, bringing a smile to my face.
He failed to fulfill that promise of his, and he will no longer have the chance to because he’s now dead. I am not mad at him, though.
Not so long after he made that promise, I realized that it wouldn’t be possible at all. A truckload of Milo? Who was he kidding? I knew he just wanted to stop me from crying. Classic Uncle Leo move.
I had a sad childhood.
My parents separated when I was three. After learning about Papa’s affair, Mama decided to leave the home we’d been sharing with my father. We moved to my grandparents’ home, where my uncles and aunts were also staying.
Mama had to leave me there, eventually. She got a job elsewhere and could not take me with her. Not too long after her departure, however, she met a new man.
When she got pregnant, she decided to leave her job and stay in Sorsogon, where her new partner was from. She wanted to stay there while waiting for her due date.
Of course, that hurt me. Although still very young, I was already aware of what was going on. I was a smart kid, after all.
Many times, I cried because of what was happening. I felt abandoned. Mama was supposed to be with me, but she wasn’t. She was far away, carrying a child that wasn’t my father’s and making plans that I knew didn’t include me.
The night I cried over Milo was not the only night my Uncle Leo tried to keep me from shedding more tears. In fact, I already lost count of the times he calmed me down and put a smile on my face instead.
Uncle Leo was known in our family as the funny one. He liked cracking jokes and making puns. He was the cool uncle, too. He liked to buy us toys and treats when we were kids.
I know he did his best to give me a normal childhood despite the circumstances. Although I was forced to grow up fast and make sense of my parents’ unusual relationship, Uncle Leo gave me a chance to feel like a child.
Of course, I still feel sad whenever I look back on my childhood. What I had to go through at a young age has scarred me so deeply and to this day, I am still dealing with a lot of issues that stemmed from my troubled past.
But I can still say that my childhood didn’t completely suck. In fact, I managed to make a lot of good memories. Most of them involve my dear Uncle Leo. All those Christmas Evenings he pretended to be Santa Claus, secretly leaving us presents so we’d wake up on Christmas Day with our stockings filled with gifts. All those jamming sessions in which he’d play Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and try to copy the different voices in the song. All those afternoons he’d play with me and my cousins.
Although he didn’t buy me a truckload of Milo, I still love Uncle Leo and I will always think of him so fondly. And now, as I descend into another phase of Milo madness, I vow to remember him in every cup of this sweet, sweet drink.