He was a great lumbering hulk of a man, blessed or cursed (depending on how you would look at it) with the great physical bulk genetically common to my mother's side of the extended Murillo clan. But he carried his not inconsiderable stoutness with grace, aplomb and good humor convincing many that it was a manifestation of good health and good living rather than the result of a privileged and dissolute lifestyle.
He also had that rogue gene not uncommon within my mother's clan that gifted him with the fine Caucasian features, the hazel-brown eyes and the brown-black hair that many would ascribed to the supposed influence of distant Spanish forbears. That plus his physique gave him the air of a plump, good-natured and mischievous child with the carefree, roguish twinkle in the eyes despite the fact that he was already past middle age and approaching 60 years of age.
That he was liked by the many who he came into contact with was a fact for he was essentially a likable man. He cultivated friends like a game fowl breeder raised champion cocks and had an affable, extroverted nature which enabled him to enjoy a wide circle of friends, all of whom held him in great esteem and who remember him with fondness.
He was not perfect and had his faults though like the rest of us. He could be pushy, domineering and even occasionally guileful but it was easy to forgive him for his excesses because deep inside his heart was as big as his body and his imperfections were trivial compared to his virtues particularly his capacity to empathize and sympathize with others.
Within our clan and extended family he was a maverick. Among my maternal first cousins, he was then the most senior and thus our physical link to the generations that came before us. He knew most if not all of the older members of the clan and through him the lore, legends and stories of the clan passed through to us as it will soon pass to the generation that will come after us.
In one sense, Lalo Salinas spoke for and stood for our generation of the entire clan. That is why his recent demise at 59 years, just 11 years shy of the biblical measure of three-score and ten supposedly given to all men, was a jarringly painful and unexpected tragedy for the many of us who knew him intimately as a close relative and friend.
Myasthenia gravis, that debilitating neuro-muscular disease that ultimately laid him low robbed him of the change to grow old and savor the rewards of a long and fruitful life. That such a man who loved life and savored its pleasures so openly and unabashedly would be felled by such a rare and physically degenerative disease seemed tragically ironic but one cannot question the fickle ways of heaven or the whims of fate. All those Lalo Salinas left behind can do is to remember the man he once was and find solace in the many poignant memories he left behind.
Manong Lalo passed away last December 30 and was laid to rest at the Lianga municipal cemetery last January 9. He will be sorely missed.