MY UNCLE GOT A HEART ATTACK
My mother’s older brother uncle Hasan, (Hasan Dayı) died from a heart attack when we were waiting for the bus. I was thirteen and he was in his late fifties. Uncle Hasan was not overweight, although not slim, but he used to drink a lot of raki and wine and used to smoke a lot, he was a real chain smoker. He quit drinking later when he got older, but couldn’t quit smoking as most of the men smoked tobacco those years…
He used to drink those strong Turkish coffees in one slurp, and probably more than ten fincan (Turkish coffee cup) every day. Now I can see that heart attack was waiting for Uncle Hasan around the corner! And that day came one sunny afternoon at a bus stop in Ulus, a busy centrum of Ankara.
HE SAID “I CAN NOT BREATHE!”
He said, “I cannot breathe”, like George Floyd of Minneapolis, and fell on the ground on his back. His eyes rolled back and started gasping for air. Loud noises were coming from the throat, scary wheezing, grunting sounds. Then his legs were curled half-up, twitching, and sporadically kicking the air. I thought he was giving his last breath.
People waiting at the bus stop gathered around, some watching with horror, others fetching water and asking if anyone has cologne. Another person was madly trying to undo his top shirt button. And there I was did not know what to do other than sobbing. In those days (1959 I think) obviously, nobody knew first aid, CPR, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation…
A man from the crowd jumped out to the Çankırı street and stopped a passing-by taxi, with the help of others they put him in and asked the driver to take us to Numune Hastanesi, the nearest hospital. When they bundled him to the taxi, there was a small pool of urine on the ground where he was lying. I set in the front. On the way to the hospital, my uncle at the back was quiet and motionless.
DOCTOR SAID “UNFORTUNATELY IT IS TOO LATE!”
When we arrived at the hospital doctors checked him and said to me: “unfortunately it is too late!” He was already dead… They ordered me to get my parents to fill out some papers. In those days there were no telephones in everyone’s home and certainly no mobile phones. I also did not have money to hire a taxi. So, I had to run 3-4 km from hospital to home to let my mother Nimet know what happened. She said: “Oh my brother” and started to cry!
I did not have the courage to go to the hospital to say a final goodbye to my uncle. This is something I regret now!
-Hal Aral, 20.6.2021 Sydney, Australia