Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Guest Blogger: Paulino Lim Jr ~ Memory of a Lost Friend

 My Guest Blogger is Dr. Paulino Lim Jr (left in the picture; Lupo Grageda is beside him). 

Paulino Lim Jr. is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach.

He is a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas—for his fiction and scholarly essays that are constructive criticisms of the political, social, and religious problems in the Philippines. Also in 2016, his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, conferred upon him a lifetime achievement honor—the Parangal Hagbong Award—for significant contributions to Philippine literature. His latest book, Spots of Time: A Memoir of a Mind, was nominated for the Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in English, 38th Philippine National Book Awards (2018).

He is the author of a scholarly monograph on Byron, dramas, three anthologies, a quartet of political novels, and the novel Death of the English Zen Professor.

He shares with us his personal essay "Memory of a Lost Friend" which appears in his blog:  https://paulinolimjr.blogspot.com/


How do you relate to someone who is no longer with us – as the saying goes – but whose voice we still hear and whose face we still see in our dreams? Was the person a dear friend, a lover you broke up with, or a spouse you divorced?


Whatever the case, they still inhabit your mental theater. My boyhood friend in the Philippines, Lupo Grageda who was born in 1934 and died in 2011, is still on the wings of my mental stage, waiting for a summon. It’s easier to do so for Lupo whose two gifts are hung in the living room: a framed picture of twenty-nine pinned butterflies and an acrylic abstract painting he captioned Memory of a Lost Friend. A painter’s depiction of memory, like a still from a filmmaker’s montage.

This is perhaps how the living relates to a “dearly beloved” friend or family member. They are on the wings, waiting for you to apologize for not telling them how much you loved them, or failing to do what they asked you to, when they were still with you.

This is a familiar trope of family dramas. In Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” the son Brick (Paul Newman in the film version) tells his dying father (Burl Ives), “You never showed or expressed your love for me.”

Susan Cheever, herself a writer like her father John Cheever, dipped into her father’s letters to write a memoir that became an episode in the TV series Seinfeld. The memoir reveals that her father was serially unfaithful to her mother with both male and female lovers.

W. Somerset Maugham knew what happens to letters you keep, and made a bonfire of them before he died. Letters are of course a familiar trope in fiction, as in Thomas Hardy’s tragic novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. As a narrative device, they constitute the genre of the epistolary novel, e.g., Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.

Now that the pandemic is over, I would like to thank Charles May, whose complimentary close “Your friend forever” in an email is the first entry in the blog, Pandemic Dream Diary. My daughter Claire, who edits the blog, supplied the subtitle “A place to share my latest musings.” I shall continue to do so. Thank you for reading.



 Read also

In Honor of Filipino American writer, Paulino Lim Jr.

Guest Blogger: Paulino Lim Jr. "Preface to a Work in Progress" - Sabong

Paulino Lim Jr's Review of THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW, novel by Cecilia Brainard

Tags: friendship, Filipino American author, Filipino books, Filipino writer

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