Anibal Gomez, 78: Edith Piaf's 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien' : Songs Of Remembrance Like the singer in this song, the father never regretted any of his choices.

Anibal Gomez, 78: Edith Piaf's 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien'

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

More than 500,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. It's such a staggering number, it can be easy to lose focus on each individual. So in recent weeks, NPR has been remembering some of the people we've lost through the music they loved in our Songs of Remembrance series. Today we wanted to acknowledge that the coronavirus is a global pandemic and hear about one of the more than 2 1/2 million people lost to the virus internationally. Here's Cristina Gomez remembering her father, Anibal Gomez, from Bogota, Colombia.

CRISTINA GOMEZ: The song that reminds me of my father, Anibal Gomez, is Edith Piaf's "No, I Regret Nothing. No, Absolutely Nothing" (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

EDITH PIAF: (Singing in French).

GOMEZ: It's a song that he loved. And whenever he would listen to that song, he would get very sentimental. You know, his face would drop, and you would look at him, and you could just see that he was feeling immensely. Those feelings were just very strong, you know, when he listened to that song. It absolutely exemplifies the way that he lived his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

PIAF: (Singing in French).

GOMEZ: The first part of his life where he had this brilliant career, very successful - and then at some point during his mid-life, he made some different choices. And that's when probably the marriage with my mother ended and a couple of relationships ended. And I think that's why this song is important because if someone just had a regular life and they weren't controversial or they weren't flawed - well, to say I regret nothing is different.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

PIAF: (Singing in French).

GOMEZ: We became very, very close-knit during the last maybe 20 years, but especially during the pandemic because he came to live with us because he had a lot of health issues. So we brought him to this very, very, very remote small town. And he lived with us here for a few months. And that was just a really, really special opportunity to be with him and for him to be with my children completely confined in a house for many months.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

PIAF: (Singing in French).

GOMEZ: He had an absolutely wicked sense of humor, and he brought that to the table. In this last part of his life, somewhere around midnight, he would go upstairs and change into this white sort of John Travolta suit and then come down the stairs and start dancing. And he had this little show that he would put on. And it was just - it was hilarious. And he was a great dancer, so it was - you know, it was fun to watch.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

PIAF: (Singing in French).

GOMEZ: So he was able to be who he wanted to be until the last day of his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

PIAF: (Singing in French).

MARTIN: That was Cristina Gomez in Columbia. She was remembering her father, Anibal Gomez, and his favorite song, the unforgettable "Je Ne Regrette Rien" (ph) by Edith Piaf.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN")

PIAF: (Singing in French).

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