A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

My Father George
Sunday, June 21, 2015





My father George died in Buenos Aires in the summer of 1965. He died on the street and a friend, a police sergeant, took him to the nearby Hospital Pirovano. The sergeant knowing how hospitals dealt with people that were brought in, emptied his pockets before anyone could touch him.

The sergeant called me a few days later and told me, “Your father was working at a laundry to make money to bribe a general so that you would be relieved of your naval conscription obligations. You could have gone home to Mexico.” The policeman handed me the money. It was enough for a modest burial at La Chacarita. Of the burial I remember nothing.

I had learned of my father’s death when Leo Mahdjubian, an almost-uncle of mine called me and said, “Your father kicked the bucket today.”

I was never smart enough to ask my father when he was born or how old he was.

My father, like many Haywards had a drinking problem. My mother persuaded him to leave home when I was 8. On weekends my father would come to take me to the movies. Sometimes he was drunk and I was embarrassed if any of my friends were playing with me in the garden. But I looked forward to our outings because I loved him. I remember he took me to see Beau Geste.

A couple of years later my mother, my grandmother and I left for Mexico and my father was not told. Years later he told me that it broke his heart.

I returned in 1965 to do my military service in Argentina as an excuse to find my father. I did and we visited on weekends. I do not remember any conversations. I have no reason as to why.

My father was a journalist but I never read anything he ever wrote. He cooked very well and told me that the secret to cooking was to learn to make sauces. He had several friends who came to visit us. One of them, Manrique, wore a shoulder holster under his jacket.

My father was handsome and looked like David Niven. His voice resembled Niven's. 

On days when my father did not return home, my mother would say, "Alex he wrote something in the Buenos Aires Herald that Perón did not like. He is in the Villa Devoto jail."

From him I inherited my ability to cook and of late I think that perhaps I can write, too.

After all these years I can remember his smell of Old Smuggler whiskey and Player’s cigarettes. I remember the roughness of his Harris Tweet jackets when he bent to kiss me. His mustache was prickly, too. I did not inherit his beautiful almost gray wavy hair.

One year Santa Claus brought me a red Schuco wind-up racer that had a suspension and a steering wheel that worked. Right after Midnight Mass and not long after I opened my present I lost the key. I cried. My father came up to me and said that Santa Claus had left a spare key.

I may have been as good a father as my father was. When I think of him I feel very English and yet I remember not only how he spoke to me in English, usually in anger but how gentle his Argentine Spanish was when all things were right with his world and mine.



     

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10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17

7/2/17 - 7/9/17

7/9/17 - 7/16/17

7/16/17 - 7/23/17

7/23/17 - 7/30/17

7/30/17 - 8/6/17

8/6/17 - 8/13/17

8/13/17 - 8/20/17

8/20/17 - 8/27/17

8/27/17 - 9/3/17

9/3/17 - 9/10/17

9/10/17 - 9/17/17

9/17/17 - 9/24/17

9/24/17 - 10/1/17

10/1/17 - 10/8/17

10/8/17 - 10/15/17

10/15/17 - 10/22/17