Time zones and oceans divided us,
but your voice still echoed
with my pulse.
Now time zones, oceans, and heavens divide us,
but your voice still echoes
with my pulse.
* * * *
On July 24, 2013, Mahmoud Ostadmohammed passed away. He was a great playwright, actor, director, writer, teacher, and more importantly person. He taught people to defy what they perceived to be their own limitations. On stage, he could absolutely transform himself physically and emotionally and take the shape, substance, and spirit of any character.
More than anything for me he was my Uncle, which was a big deal to me. Being the child of immigrant parents, my entire extended family was out of the country for most of my life. My Uncle though lived in Montreal and Vancouver for several years. I spent a few summers and a cold winter in Montreal with my Uncle, his wife, and my cousin. Also, they came to visit us in Los Angeles and lived in Los Angeles for some time as well. This was all during years when I was young and impressionable and I was blessed to spend this time with my Uncle and his family.
Eventually, my Uncle moved back to Iran. He finally received some of the appreciation he deserved when he moved back. It is difficult being appreciated in a foreign country when you practice your craft in a different language. Unfortunately, he became sick with cancer. I thought that my Uncle, who could do anything he set his mind to, would beat cancer and move on. I did not worry about him beating cancer because I knew he would. He kept cancer at bay for a couple of years, which just reinforced my belief. Now looking back I see that this was just me entering a horrible state of denial. A defense mechanism for being separated from him and not really being able to do anything to help him. People who live far away from loved ones will understand that we do and think odd or even improbable things to get by. I never thought that the last time that I hugged my Uncle was actually our last embrace. If I knew that, then I would have held on longer. His death was and is a surprise to me.
I take some peace in that my Uncle passed away on his own terms. He was a very independent person. Maybe even a defiantly independent person. He was not the type of person to ever want someone to bathe him or change him no matter the circumstances. Moreover, he passed away embraced by a community that loves him and in his home country with his friends, family, colleagues, and students nearby.
Luckily, my Uncle was a great teacher and he continues to live in all those he made an impression on. I carry his lessons written down, folded, and placed in the pockets of my soul.