The brother of my father, Dr. Sylvester Almiron, is an amazing man. It may seem obvious that he, being the physician of the family, would be the person I would want to emulate and find him not only significant but relevant. Yet the reason I honor him transcends beyond the stories of his practice in medicine and extends to the relationships he established and contributed to in addition to becoming a prominent clinician.
My uncle lives a life of faith. Even as a man of science and medicine, I see through his decisions and actions that his strong sense of hope and presence of strength comes from a belief that there exists an entity beyond him and his reason. This spiritual disposition is an understatement since my uncle’s father, my grandfather, is a pastor. When my uncle was a young boy, he would go with his father on home visits to those who were sick and whose families had asked the pastor to pray over them.
My uncle, after witnessing the praying over the sick, asked his father if there was more that they could do. And although prayer has its own power in it of itself, my uncle wanted a more tangible response to these physical ailments. It is in those moments where he discovered the medium of where he would do his ministry, through the field of medicine.
Another aspiring story that comes into mind is when my uncle established a prominent Filipino community in his hobby, tennis. There were not so much training grounds for those living in the suburbs of New York for the minority community. Most spaces were already preoccupied with a particular, exclusive tenants that were not as welcoming to him or his family. When the problem arose where his children had no space to play as well as no coaches to teach the, my uncle responded by building a tennis court in his backyard and then received his credentials to coach tennis. He stands as an awarded coach and a prestigious figure in his local tennis community.
My most significant memory of my uncle, however, goes back to that of my father. Although I was too young to understand the gravity of circumstances my father endured towards the later years of his life, I am grateful to say that my uncle was there in ways that I can only hope for. My father entered rather foreign territory when he became ill with a diagnosis that was of a novelty at that time and as appropriate as it was, my father’s brother happened to be a doctor. And although my uncle could not free him from his ails, his experience as a caretaker allowed him to provide a significant amount of support. Every month, my uncle would fly from New York to California to visit his little brother.
His life not only tells me how to become a successful physician but also on how to be a good person: a person of faith, a person of courage and most importantly, a person of compassion. What he has done and continues to do with his life inspires me and humbles me to not only become an amazing physician but to be a person of noble character as well.