Sunday, February 06, 2005

My uncle, a retired architect, died this past Sunday. He was at home with his family, 77 years old, dying of a heart attack just like his father did. In the overall scheme of things this is hardly a tragedy, especially in Iraq, especially in Baghdad where he lived, where there is so much tragedy every day. I am told by my aunt no. 1(his younger sister in San Antonio) that my uncle and his wife tried to walk to the hospital after he started having chest pains, but then he decided he was too tired and they went back. Then he lay down on the sofa in the living room, fell asleep and that was it. My uncle and aunt have a car, but decided it was too dangerous, especially on election day, to try to drive to the hospital. My aunt no. 1 in San Antonio called her brother just a week earlier to see how things were going, and asked if they were going to vote: "No, of course not. Nobody in this neighborhood will go vote. It would be crazy." He was in good spirits, I am told. He also joked about persons who might be listening in, since over the years we have always wondered about this. (Phone service wasn't 100% throughout the 90s, but most of the time, from 1990 through March of 2003, my aunt was able to get through, although it was always understood under Saddam that it would be bad for an Iraqi family to call the states, not so bad if they just received the phone call.)

My uncle's joke: "now that we live in a democracy, I am not concerned about who's listening in, because it's only democracy listening." You can decide for yourself how to take that.