FinalityWednesday, January 11, 2017
|Granaderos de San Martín - Plaza de Mayo - April 2016. Equestrian statue of San Martín on extreme right|
Finality has been a word in my mind in my days awake and my days asleep in my dreams.
I was unaware of this word but I had a hint in my memory when I was 12 in Buenos Aires as I had gone to a few velorios (wakes) and seen dead neighbours in their coffins. When Eva Perón had died on July 27 1952 it was impossible not to be met with the idea of death. In movies all the newsreels featured her death and her capilla ardiente (translates to burning chapel) an Argentine term for an elaborate wake. It was during the transporting of her coffin on the street surrounded by crying Argentines that I first discovered Beethoven and Chopin because of their funeral music.
But it was in 1954 shortly before we moved from Buenos Aires to Mexico City when I realized that I might be leaving Buenos Aires and to never return. I asked my mother to take me to town and have her buy me some lead shoulders that featured Granaderos de San Martín, who were the special guard and elite soldiers of General Don José de San Martín, a brilliant soldier who liberated Argentina, Chile and Perú (the latter two countries might not agree with me, so be it). The ones I wanted had the soldiers on white horses (San Martín’s horse was white but nobody ever documented the animal’s name) with lances.
I wanted them because I knew I would never be able to have them. Alas! They disappeared in the multiple moves thereafter.
Now at my age of 74 I look at everything almost as if I were a soon-to-be blind man. I am trying to enjoy what might not be possible tomorrow if I happened to die today.
In my memory, a sad and troubling one is a chat I had with my good friend Mark Budgen (he died 22 October 2015) who told me how many more books I would be lucky to read before my death. He said, “You have to be awfully selective.”
And so I am going with Rosemary and Lauren to Buenos Aires this March. Most important is to visit my 92-year-old first cousin and godmother Inecita O’Reilly Kuker. Her mind is beginning to wander so this may be the last time we have lucid chat and she meets Lauren who is looking forward to listening to a woman who talks like the Queen of England. I also think that this could be a parting gift of culture and family tradition from us to Lauren, who at age 14 will be exposed to a really foreign country.
On the 23 of December our beloved Malibu’s engine failed. We had to buy a new car. Our new car is a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze that is a lovely car, smooth and quiet but does not (Alas!) have a horn like our Malibu’s. Our Cruze’s is definitely a plain honk.
But I find the purchase symmetrical. In 1975 we moved to Vancouver from Mexico City in our Mexican-made VW Beetle. I have found out that our new Cruze was made in Mexico. I am delighted. After all I found my Rosemary in Mexico and our two daughters were born there.
I believe that our metallic light blue/silver car will be the last car I ever buy. Today Lauren suggested we name her Penelope. I knew that Lauren is beginning to understand her grandfather’s humour. Think of a famous Spanish actress.