The Love Of A MotherSunday, May 13, 2007
My mother often told me, "You will never understand because you will never be a mother." While I never felt (as a young boy) that I was a girl confined to eternity in a boy's body, my mother did make me curious as to what I may have been missing or avoiding.
She told me that love was doing and giving more than kisses and hugs. She sacrificed most of her life to sending me to good schools and satisfying my expensive tastes for smuggled Erector sets. Even when we could not afford it we had lots of the best food at the table. But she did mention to me a few times that I was "arisco". This is a Spanish word (that came via the Portuguese and the gallegos of northwestern Spain and has as its etymology the word arsenic) that really has no proper translation. The word is used to describe animals (specially horses) of unpredictable nature whom you would not pet (or in the case of a horse not ride). I can only hold my female cat Plata for about 25 seconds. After that she will scratch. She is "arisca" and will sleep on top of me during the night only because she chooses to do so.
My mother was never able to understand why I showered my father with kisses and hugs but kept my disance from her. I regret to admit that I may have told her that, "love could not be forced."
In 1954 my mother, my grandmother and I moved to Mexico. My grandmother had previously told me that I had to choose between my father and my mother. I was quick to answer (I was 11) that I wanted to stay in Buenos Aires. All the questionable legal proceedings to take me out of the country without the necessary persmission of my father were taken and we arrived 19 July, 1954 in Mexico City.
I returned to Argentina in 1965 to comply with my obligatory conscription in the Argentine armed forces. Both my mother and I knew (but we never talked about it) that I was returning to search for my father. Shortly after I left she wrote me a poem, "Ruegos" which loosely translates as pleas.
México Sept 1, 1965
Puede ser que vuelvas,
Puede ser que no
Pero quiero que sepas
que aquí estaré esperando
noticias de ti
De vez en cuando.
Te deseo lo mejor
que la vida pueda brindarte
una carrera brillante
Una mujer para amarte
Como tu te mereces.
Por todo esto - hago preces.
Hijo mío, que Dios te bendiga
Que la Virgencita te proteja
Para que siempre te conserves
Bueno, ecuánime, integro
Todo esto y mucho más te deseo.
F.I.G. (Filomena de Irureta Goyena)
In the poem my mother had doubts that I would return. But I did return a year later (while still in the Argentine Navy) as I had managed to get free passage in an American C-130 Hercules to Panama and from there I wangled passage to Mexico City. In the picture here with my mother I am wearing an Argentine bespoke three piece flannel suit and I have my short military haircut.
My mother may have been surprised to see me. But it was then that she told me something that I have treasured since with mixed emotion.
"As a mother I have always loved you because a mother has no choice. But I never did like you. Somehow you have changed and I like you now."
I think that is when we became friends.