Monday, July 19, 2010

"When I die, don't cry for me....."

I recently experienced the death of one of my favorite relatives. My maternal aunt died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 69 last Friday night.

When she was young she was quite the party girl, and loved to drink, dance and have a good time. On my 18th birthday, we got drunk on some bad vodka, and acted pretty damned crazy. Oh to be young again....

My aunt always made me laugh and told the funniest stories! I'll never forget when she visited me in the hospital when I was recovering from surgery I had for a ruptured appendix. This was a brush I had with death when I was nearly 15 years old; the doctor removed the appendix and its nasty by-products before they would have spread through my body and killed me.

She had me cracking up from the time she arrived until visiting hours were over, which was good because I had been in the hospital a week and it was quite depressing in there.

She partied hearty until middle age, when she had to slow down and was in the midst of raising two sons. When my aunt entered her later years she suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure.

The last five years of her life she hardly left the house because she broke her knee in an accident and never fully recovered her mobility, shuffling around her small apartment in a walker. At this point, I think she was ready to go. Confinement is depressing.

Although this is not the Puerto Rican music she danced to in her youth, I dedicate this song to my aunt, who would have wanted me to dance, drink wine (or some other potent potable) in her honor and break the glasses afterwards. It's called "Ako umram il' zaginam", which means "If I die or if I'm killed.", a song popular in Western Bulgaria and Macedonia. Although it's a men's song, she was wild and crazy as a young woman, and to me, it's how she would have liked to have been remembered.

By the way, I was at a dance the night that she died. And she was probably smiling at me from above. Unfortunately I didn't have any wine with me, or glasses to break.

Here are the lyrics for the song, in Macedonian and English, from the Balkanarama website:

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