Friday, May 14, 2010

How do you measure a year in the life?




Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

I've never seen the Broadway play Rent but I couldn't help but have it's Seasons of Love stuck in my head today as we paid tribute and laid to rest a true legend in his own time, Francisco Aguabella.  Francisco had 84 five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes in his life and I can only imagine all that his eyes witnessed in his long life.  How do you measure a life, especially a life so long and well lived? Imagine doing something, being so good at it, and being able to do it every single day. Even if your time on earth was half of what Francisco lived, if you do what you love, you'd enjoy every minute of life. That's what I think may have been the case for Francisco.  He was the last of his kind. He was old school, taught by the masters in Cuba and brought Cuban folklore and Santeria drumming to the mainland. I didn't know until today that he was responsible for teaching everyone here how to properly play the bata.

I met Francisco shortly after meeting my husband Joey. Joey played in his Latin jazz band for several years. I think he mumbled something to me and then turned around. I guess I didn't make much of an impression on him. He never seemed very approachable so I usually tried to keep out of his way. I thought he was real old school and didn't care to talk to the wives or girlfriends, just the musicians. I know how that goes so I never made an attempt to talk to him. Yet, after today, I realized that he was that way with everyone. A man of few words, but if you made the effort, he'd crack a smile and appreciate it. Still wouldn't say much but at least you'd make a connection. That's something I never got to experience in person with him, but today, I realized that I did have a connection to him through his music. As they played the closing song, A Few of My Favorite Things by Francisco, I felt the journey in the song. His music had this travel quality to it. I always imagine being on a train going steadily across a beautiful countryside, passing rolling hills on a beautiful sunny day. I was instantly transported there again today with that song. I keep going back to the beautiful program they handed out at the service. I read and re-read his biography, about his children, wife, and travels. I look at the pictures of him with his sons and daughters, and especially the one with a boy. It's a tender image of a grandfather. It's a different vision of a man that everyone has elevated to iconic master status. It's nice to see this other side to a very private man.

The song continues . . .
In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

When word spread about his cancer, Joey called him to ask how he was doing. Francisco's one-word answer, "fine" was all he needed to say. It was followed by a 'click' as he promptly hung up on him. We couldn't help but laugh because that is the man we knew and loved. So full of pride. He never wanted to show his weakness and if you ever saw the muscles on the man, you'd think he would have out-lived us all. Now that he is gone, I can only hope that someone can record all the wonderful, hilarious, poignant moments all have shared with Francisco because despite his reputation for being hot tempered . . . everyone will forever have a profound love and respect for the man.


It's time now to sing out,
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!



Visit Francisco Aguabella's website for a ton of information about him including his albums and a wonderful photo gallery here: franciscoaguabella.com

5 comments:

  1. That was a beautiful tribute. I think it shows how much respect he commanded as a person and yet how much he endeared himself to those who knew him.

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  2. What a lovely tribute, Yaya! His loss is truly immeasurable.

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  3. Thank you Anonymous and Marlene. I appreciate your comments. I know many people have seen this post and I'd love to hear some Francisco stories if anyone wishes to share on here.

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  4. Hi Yaya,
    Ok, here is a funny story about Maestro Francisco. It's so painful for me, because I realize today how much he has paved the way in my life. I met him when I was just playing maybe two or two 1/2 years. I met him at the famous "Miami Spice" where I met all the musicians at the beginning of my music life. Well, it's funny because my ex boyfriend "Angel" told him to give me a chance. I wasn't ready, I was just learning to play. But, he did give me a chance and during the set he changed me from timbales and put me on his drums. My hands weren't "healed" like they are now and I bled all over his skins. He leaned over and smiled looking at the drum "Ques eso? Lipstick?" and he laughed. It was funny... He always made me laugh and had a nice smile.

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  5. Melena, That is hilarious. I'm sure he saw that you had tremendous talent. What a great story!

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