On June 30th 2020, I submitted my Bachelor’s thesis to the university and only had to pass the thesis defense to finish my studies. Of course, I called my parents to tell them the good news, however it turned out to be a terrible time because my uncle, Martin Panggabean, had just passed away after fighting lung cancer for the past 2–3 years. When he was first diagnosed, he was already at stadium 4, which meant that keeping the cancer at bay was going to be a challenge mentally, physically, and financially.
I used to fear my uncle as a kid because of his strict and serious demeanor. He was always so focused on education and learning, and I didn’t think being around him was fun. However as I got older, that fear started to fade away when I started to understand what kind of a person he was. He was a man with good principles, very family-oriented, and had interest in many things. He was a role model in our family because he was the eldest out of three siblings (my father is the youngest). He loved spending time reading books, or doing basically anything that would add to his knowledge. He was an incredibly intelligent person; in high school he was awarded a medal from President Suharto for being a role model student (Siswa Teladan).
He loved inviting me over to sleep over at his house. I was really close with my cousins and we’d play all day. He’d usually take us out to eat in great restaurants. Whenever I’d ask what he thought of the food, he’d always reply with his signature “This is good stuff.” As I started to get older, we started to have a lot of great conversations about a lot of things. He loved to talk about interesting topics and always had very insightful opinions. Sometimes he’d know the most bizarre things that one wouldn’t think of knowing.
Near the end of his life he started becoming interested in coffee, so when we’d hang out it would usually be at a coffee shop to talk about coffee. In university I worked as a part-time barista, so I could relate with him on a lot of coffee-related topics. That’s one thing I really miss, those moments when we just hung out and enjoyed coffee at a nice cafe. Oh, and those great conversations we had. Good times.