Remembering My FatherSaturday, June 16, 2018
For Fathers’ Day my Rosemary asked me, “Do you want to go to Nando’s on Sunday?” I of course answered in the affirmative as it is one of my favourite places to eat. My taste buds at my age of 75 are not up to par and the hot food at Nando’s I can actually taste.
But this is not to be. Today Saturday I attempted to open a little plastic bag of rose fertilizer with my teeth. I broke of a front tooth cap. My dentist Ben Balevi will do wonders on Monday. Until then it will be soup and hot cream of wheat and Jell-O.
While I really do not celebrate Fathers’ Day much I do use the days around it to remember my own father George.
My father was the most talented of the Haywards (he had two brothers and three sisters) but he was born with a flaw that led him to drink.
In my youth between 6 and 8 we lived in a house that had no extra bedroom. So I had a bed in the living room. I could hear the conversations between my parents when my mother would say, “George you have to stop drinking.” He would promise but he never did stop. Finally around 1951 he left the house to live in a pension so that I would grow up without arguments or scenes.
But I remember him when he lived with us. We would lie in bed and we would sing Onward Christian Soldiers and My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean. He would cook candied apples (they were green on the outside!) for me and take me to see war, cowboy and sword fighting films in town on Calle Lavalle. After a couple of films we would have pizza at the Cuartetas on Calle Corrientes and then ice cream sodas at the Roxy. To this day I con conjure his scent that was part Old Smuggler's Whiskey, Player's Navy Cuts, his Harris Tweed jackets and his shaving lotion.
Once he left he would come on weekends to take me to the movies. Sometimes he would arrive drunk while I was playing with my friends Mario and Miguelito. I would be embarrassed. And yet..
My mother would often tell me how it was that she sacrificed herself for me and yet I showered my father with affection.
For many years my mother would say, “Alex you will never understand because you will never be a mother.”
It was only after she died in 1972 that I finally thought of what I should have said, “Mother you will never understand because you will never be a father.”
Of my months of seeing my father in the late 60s in Buenos Aires I seem to have a memory block. I do not remember any of our conversations. But to this day I have a deep affection for the father that I had who was a real father to me.
He was a journalist who worked for the English language Buenos Aires Herald and The Standard. He was offered to be the editor of the Herald by the publisher but my father for reasons that have always been unclear through an ink bottle at the man and was then fired.
As of now I have written 4475 blogs. I believe that if some of them are not bad it is because I inherited from my father. I also cook very well which is something he did very nicely, too.
I have this mysterious connection with Argentine writer Julio Cortázar because he was a buddy of my father’s. I was much too stupid to ever ask him why this was the case.
On my living room mantle I have his mate. I texted Rebecca (she is now 20) that my perfect gift for tomorrow would be to share a mate in my father’s gourd. She has yet to reply but I live in the hope that it will happen.