Saturday, July 03, 2010

Uncle Allan

Allan L.C. Yuen, 81, of Honolulu, a retired Guam Community College administrator, died in Honolulu. He was born in Hawaii. He is survived by sons Christen and Shelten; brothers Alfren and Robert; sisters Bow Yin Ching and Eva Mokiao; and two grandchildren. Mass: 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Call after 8:30 a.m. Committal services: 2 p.m. at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl. Aloha attire. No flowers. –From the Star Advertiser
I rarely saw Uncle Allan during my childhood. He lived in Los Angeles during the 1950’s and returned with stories of six-lane freeways where monster trucks would tailgate you at 70 miles per hour. To a credulous kid who had never gone faster than 50 it sounded both horrifying and exciting.

Uncle Allan was the clan’s educated man. He had a Master's degree when most in the family didn't even go to college. He was not philosophical like my Uncle Jack, the engineer and professor, but worldly-wise. He chain-smoked. He was left-handed. My grandmother despaired of him ever getting married. Despite his irreverent mien he regularly attended Catholic services. He had a Mainlander’s ‘tude. I admired him but never told him because it wouldn’t have been cool.

He returned to the Islands and taught at Maryknoll, the Catholic school across the street from Punahou. During my middle school years I would wait on the chapel steps for him to give me a ride home. One of the high points of my day was to get in his Ford Mustang, the driver dangling the cigarette from the window.

After I left for college, I was surprised to hear that he got married to a lady who didn’t speak much English. The union didn’t last, but not before it had produced two sons. I now had two new cousins who were younger than other cousins’ kids.

His restless spirit didn’t permit him to be confined to our island for long, and his travels took him to Guam and Chico in central California. As age’s infirmities began to nag, he returned to Hawaii to be close to his brothers and sisters. He quit smoking and went for daily walks. He learned to love e-mail, especially because he could communicate instantaneously with his sons who were thousands of miles away. He proudly showed me pictures of his grandchildren.

Last April Uncle Allan was admitted to Queen’s Hospital for abdominal bleeding that the doctors couldn’t stop. When I saw him in June he was hooked up to an array of devices, the once voluble man rendered silent by the tubes down his throat. His eyes and his hands, gripping mine, showed that he was listening. As I reminisced, I didn’t see the frail white-haired figure on the hospital bed but the jaunty bachelor grinning and waving goodbye as his Mustang roared away. His ashes are now in Punchbowl, joining three of his brothers. Rest in peace, Uncle. Thank you for our journey together.

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