For this memorial day my favorite war veteran, my Uncle Dom was who I was remembering. The photo above was the last time we spent with our hero uncle and his wife, my Aunt Olivia, along with my family. I could remember the call, his voice and how he got straight to the point. “I’m gonna die soon so you need to visit me,” my Uncle Dom said. The time went by too fast. It got harder to see him throughout the years since we lived so far from each other and both our health issues. My only regret was not being able to tell his story as I have had done for other family members who have passed on. There is so much I don’t know other than what I’ve heard and experienced being his niece. So this is my little tribute to a great man that I had privilege to know and love.
My Uncle Dome fought in the Vietnam war and he survived after having remnants of a bomb and metal plate in his head and lived well beyond what doctors ever expected. It was obvious what damage was done. However, he was sharp and he had a truth that I always respected. He did what he wanted to do and said what he wanted to say. I’ll never forget his childish spirit. When I was a kid he always challenged me to a race. We’d run up and down my street. He also would bring me glass ornaments to paint. He was an amazing artist and I wanted to paint like him. When my parents divorced my dad moved in with him. I loved my times there. Going to his favorite restaurant Denny’s and waking up to him singing and playing his own composed pieces on the piano along with classic hymns. Which I could still here in my head till this day.
He and my aunt Olivia was really good at keeping in touch. They were there for many of our celebrations. My boys adored him just like I did as a kid. I’ll never forget our travels to L.A. and Las Vegas. My family would chuckle when he would yell out, “smoke break.” That meant to pull over for a smoke which would be every hour. I’ll always remember the time we went to the groceries and he didn’t want to put his shoes on. People would look and he didn’t care. My husband had an amazing connection with my Uncle Dom as he takes care of Veterans for a living. He will never forget a time when we were staying at hotel and he looked out the window down at the trees. He started telling my husband this is how Vietnam looked like when he would jump out the helicopters. You would see glimpses of the horrors that would haunt him.
I don’t know his day-to-day suffering. I do know he had a lifetime of pain but he didn’t speak of it much. He knew his health the best because when he wanted to leave from places, it was time leave. He needed his rest. His wife of many years was always so amazing at caring for him. He kept outliving his chronic illnesses. He would always tell me to have faith and trust God. An example that I want to take after. Maybe that is why God always kept us close. He was already showing me the way even when I didn’t know it. I loved having someone like my Uncle Dom in my life. He was eccentric and one of the kind. He didn’t care about fitting the mold. He was just himself and made no excuses for it.
On December 28th, 2013 Domingo Dikit passed away peacefully at home. This was a hard year for our family because he would be the 3rd loved one to pass on. Making it very difficult to process at the time. I’ll never forget the investment he made in being there for me through out my life. His memorial service was beautiful and what I loved the most is how his reception was at his favorite restaurant of many years, Denny’s– closed down to have his reception. He will always be remembered for the great sacrifice he made as a young man to serve his country. He was a wounded warrior that had lifetime replications but he lived well. He will always be remembered and truly missed.
Thank you to all who have laid down their lives for our freedom! We will never forget…
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. -BENJAMIN DISRAELI