ARMAN AGUSTIN

I have no hockey words tonight.

Those of you who read here regularly have come to know that I occasionally avail myself of the indulgence of using this space to write about matters other than the Edmonton Oilers. Matters closer to the heart. Tonight is one of those times.

Back on May 22, I wrote —  oilersnation.com/2011/5/22/oilersnation-goes-to-guimba — about an upcoming family trip to the Philippines. The headline was "Oilersnation Goes to Guimba." I was taking, I thought, a little piece of Oilersnation to Nueva Ecija. How wrong I was. I turns out I actually brought a big piece of Guimba back to Oilersnation, one that will stay with me for as long as I live.

Like the picture at the top of this item. That’s my wife, Analyn, on the left and my brother-in-law, Arman, on the right. We’d been out on a day trip to Arman’s favourite church. "I’m tired," Arman said to his little sister. "Can I lean on you?" I snapped the picture.

That one moment is etched in my and has been, knowing what I know — some of which I shared with you in that May 22 item — since I looked in the viewfinder. Arman’s family — his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, his nieces and nephews — had always leaned on him. Now, it was Analyn’s turn to return the favour.

That moment is as vivid to me now as the second it happened.

NO WORDS

I knew when I wrote what I did back on May 22, when Analyn and Sam and Michael and I jumped that jet, that today would come. When it did, I hoped I’d be able to write a meaningful account of what I’d seen and what I’d learned after meeting Arman for the first time.

The day has come and I’m in hopelessly over my head and unable to write anything worthy of the experience. The words won’t come, so I won’t force them. I guess my best bet is to get to the heart of the matter. I’ll borrow from an old J-school teacher of mine, who would simply ask: "What’s the story?" That, I can do.

Arman was the son of Arcadio and Adelaida Agustin and was born on July 1, 1960. He celebrated his 51st birthday 20 days ago —  the same day as Analyn and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. Arman was the husband of Heidi and father to daughter Apple and sons Arjay and Adrian.

Arman was brother to Analyn and Anna, Alfred and Arnold and Arcadio Jr. and Alvin. He was uncle to all of their children and to Michael and Sam. Arman was a family man. A kind man, a gentle man, a successful man. A loving son and brother, father and uncle. All these things I learned in the three weeks we just spent in Guimba, where he welcomed us into his home and fussed over us as much or more as we did over him.

Before Analyn and Sam and Michael and I left for home on June 13, I asked Arman to promise to wait for us to come back again. "I will wait for you," he said. Sam has been asking for uncle Arman every day since we left. Analyn and I spoke with Arman two days ago, knowing time was short. Then, the phone rang today . . .

After a two-year battle with his cancer, Arman passed away at home in Guimba this afternoon. We miss him more than words can say.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.