january 28, 2003

When I was about eight or so, we were on vacation in Turkey, and my mother had to go and visit her aunt, Hale (pronounced hah-leh). She brought me along, cause at that age I was old enough to sit still and be polite while people around me spoke in a language I didn�t understand, and also able to follow strict instructions. I was told in the taxi ride over that I was ABSOLUTELY forbidden from eating anything that was served to us, or drinking any of the tea. Like any normal eight year old, or any normal human being for that matter, I was very curious as to why. My mother proceeded to tell me about the times that she and her sisters had stayed with Hale hala. She would make for the little girls� lunch macaroni and cheese, or yogurt, something like that, and when it was brought to the table, it already had pepper in it. One day my mother was hanging around the kitchen, watching as Hale, making the lunch for that day, randomly sprayed the air with Raid. Fruit flies and other airborne creatures dropped instantly from their flight paths and settled with the mist over the stove, countertops and food.
I was of course outraged at the thought of my poor mother being forced to eat bugs as an innocent and defenseless little girl; but she maintained that bugs weren�t bad for you, it was the bug spray that was the problem. �What, is she crazy?� I asked, and my mother answered simply that she was, in fact, quite insane, yes.
I had a really great time that day, sitting on the balcony with my mother and her aunt, enormously enjoying the secret game that Mum and I were playing. When hala would go inside to get or do something, we would break off a little piece of our cookie, take one of the plums from our plate, and toss them over the balcony. We would pour out our tea, little by little over the edge. Hale mentioned to my mother that she was wonderfully impressed by how well behaved and well mannered I was.
I mention this now of all times because last night, in a hospital in Turkey, my mother�s aunt Hale Uner died. Her death was as unexpected as it can be for a woman of eighty some years old. My memory of that day is the only memory that I have of Hale hala, and it�s one that I�m very grateful for.