George, Leo, Enrique, Patricio and ISaturday, March 25, 2006
In 1966 I received a call from my uncle Leo Mahdjoubian. He was an Armenian who had fought with the Black Watch in WW-I and had moved to Argentina after the war. He stayed at a pensión run by my grandmother Ellen Carter and soon was part of the family. Uncle Leo told me, "Your old man George has kicked the bucket. He died on the street and was taken to the Hospital Pirovano by a police sargeant. You have to go to the police station to sign a document." He told me he was sorry and rang off.
At the police station the desk sargeant told me that there was some sort of mistake as my father's son had already been there and signed the papers. That's how I found out I had a half brother. I met Enrique the next day. I have no idea to this day how he was able to find my phone number, why it was Uncle Leo who called me in the first place, and how Enrique had learned of George's death. When I met Enrique, who spoke no English, I was struck by his resemblance to my father. He had the same blue eyes. Enrique was about 12 years older than I was. I met a couple of Enrique's sons. His sons looked more like my father than I did. Enrique offered to help pay George's funeral. With my $1.00 US Dollar monthly pay as an Argentine Navy conscript I was going to need need some help. I turned Enrique down. The sargeant, who had taken my father to the hospital, had called me. At a corner boliche (cafe) he placed in my hand a sum of money that subsequently paid for a modest funeral. The sargeant had removed all of my father's posessions from his pocket saying that in the hospital they would have disappeared. He told me he had known my father. My father (above, left) had been working to save up money to bribe a general to get me out of the service so I could go home to Mexico. This was the money he had found in my father's pocket.
Years later, in 1989, Enrique (right), his son Patricio (left) and I sat for coffee at La Biela. Patricio took out a small stone from his pocket and threw it in my direction. "I went to George's grave at Chacarita Cemetery. He's not there anymore. A Mrs. Gomez is buried there. It seems you didn't pay for perpetuity. Maybe this stone was close to his bones before they threw them away."
My mother, who was a beautiful swimmer learned to dance the tango with my father. Enrique's mother told me that she was not aware that my father had ever danced the tango, "George was an excellent swimmer and he taught me how to swim."