Friday, April 20, 2012
Nicu was a very good man. He has lived his life the better he could, facing pain, poverty, racism, and repression, with the same willingness and strength as he experienced love, joy, fatherhood, and friendship. He was born in Romania in the middle of the twentieth century, and grew up in a country where the word ţigan was a synonym of "slave" and being a Gypsy an everyday challenge. He was a young man when Ceausescu ruled a suffocating Romania, and like everybody else, he suffered the restrictions and the threats caused by the dictator's madness. But Nicu was clever and he used to hide bills in the old pipes of his house, in case someone from the Securitate would come and search the place, which happened once in awhile.
Nicu was a very talented clarinetist, he had played at weddings and baptisms all over Romania and abroad, and played in the finest restaurant of his town, Poiana Brasov, the Romanian Aspen.
Nicu's father was a musician too, he had even made a record. He was the pride of the family.
Nicu loved me, and he used to call me Ana, and always told me: "So you're coming in Romania for Christmas?" even if we both knew I was not going to come. He called me papuşica (my little doll) and he always treated me like his daughter, even after I divorced his son.
Nicu was my daughter's granddad, her tatae, her bunicu. He loved her and she was his little princess.
He passed away, and his time has come too soon, and it broke our hearts.
Yesterday, I had to sit down and tell Florina that he had died, and I had very little to tell, and — how do you tell your child that her grand father passed away? She was very sad that she would never get a chance to know him better. She kept saying "Poor grandfather, poor grandmother" thinking of her bunica who is now living alone at home in Romania. She cried, we cried, we talked, and we made a promise that we would never forget him. And then she slowly, quietly, closed the door to her heart, like she always does, and went to play on the Internet, and at night she danced on the Black Eyed Peas, and she kept busy to not think to deeply about Nicu, now resting on the beautiful soil of Romania, far away from us, very close to us.
He wouldn't be sad that she does that. And that's why I will let her smile and dance and cook like she did tonight, an amazing dinner that she made for us. I will let her read and put music and design fashion clothes on her little books. I told her yesterday that her grandfather would have told her to be happy. He would have said to us: "Don't tell Florina about me, let her be happy, don't make her sad." That's how he was. But I thought she had to know. And I told her how much she looks like him, and how he's going to continue living through her, and how the ones we love will not die as long as we continue talking and thinking about them.
Tomorrow we will go to the Romanès circus, a Gypsy circus that is the cradle of her name, Florina, and we will think of Nicu with love, he who once played with them when he stayed in Paris. Dear dear Nicu. We're going to miss you more than you think.