Goian Bego, Egoitz

Remembering my cousin, Egoitz, who died three years ago today, on his birthday.

My cousin, Egoitz Uberuaga Aranburu, died yesterday, January 13, on his birthday. He had just turned 33.

Egoitz, with his sister and a few cousins, wrestling on the grounds of the family basseri.

Like with most of my dad’s family, I didn’t get to know Egoitz until my first visit to Euskal Herria, back in 1991, when I went to Donostia to study Basque. Egoitz was only 6 years old back then. I remember how, at a big family dinner at the family basseri, surrounding a table in the foyer just in front of the doors leading to the barn where the animals were kept, Egoitz and his sister, Eneritz, with some cajoling from their parents, pulled out their trikitixa and tambourine and played for their American cousin.

Egoitz grew into an amazing young man. He had a giant heart, always full of life. He was often the center of attention because of his outsized presence in the room. He was full of a restless energy; his Facebook page was full of photos from his travels all over the world. His work was to help others less fortunate than himself.

Egoitz, my daughter, my wife Lisa, my friend Gontzal, and me, in the Parte Vieja of Donostia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Lisa.

He always went out of his way to make time to see me when I visited. During our last visit to the Basque Country, he joined us during a day trip to Donostia, hitting the pintxos bars and sharing a few drinks during a break in classes. His smile was infectious, just as it had been when he was 6.

As I watch his Facebook feed, it was obvious how many lives he touched. He had spent the night before his birthday with his sister at a Gatibu concert and people were wishing him Happy Birthday. It was especially heartbreaking watching his friends post “Zorionak”, not knowing he had left us only hours before.

They always say that life is wasted on the young. Egoitz is one of those that took life by the horns and lived it his way. He filled his all-too-short life with more than most of us that live twice as long ever experience. He lived life to the edge and made the most of the time he had. He was truly an inspiration.

The words on his obituary sum up his spirit better than I ever could:

Mila esker bizitza politagoa egitea gatik,
beti eskuzabal, beti irribarretsu,
beti dana emateko prest,
txori alai, beti libre, beti aske, beti pozik.

Thank you for making life nicer,
always generous, always smiling,
always ready to give,
sweet bird, always free, always independent, always happy.

Translation by me, with an assist from Google Translate.

Goian bego, Egoitz. You will always be in my heart. The Basque Country won’t be the same without you.

7 thoughts on “Goian Bego, Egoitz”

  1. I only met him for a day but i remember him perfectly because of his charm and laughter. Un abrazo Blas. Goian Bego.

  2. I saw him last when I visited the Basque Country last summer and he was showing me pictures of you and the family in the U.S. We were trying to figure out if I knew any of you (I live in Boise).

    My heart goes for Eneritz and Ama. What a sudden lost. Nobody is ready for such a tragedy.
    Wherever Egoitz went, he will be making others smile and have a good time as he did in his life.

    Goian Bego.

    1. Eskerrik asko Iru! I grew up in Homedale, not far from Boise, so I guess it isn’t too much of a stretch we might have known each other. It always amazes me, these connections, and how small the world seems sometimes. Especially the Basque world. Egoitz was a special guy. Thanks for writing.

  3. Oso polita da. Very nice. So sorry for your loss. But despite these horribly sad moments, we have to keep going on. Beti aurrera.

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