|Rosemary, Mexico City 1968 (I am lurking behind) Photograph Andrew Taylor|
"Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife." Groucho Marx.
The above is a variation of the more common: "Behind every successful man there is a woman."
My version would be that behind any bumbling husband is a strong, successful and very intelligent woman.
That woman was my Rosemary Elizabeth Healey who I met 52 years ago. As for Groucho Marx’s version he may have been half right. If there is any way of determining anything about my character and education before I met my Rosemary that woman in my life was twice. One was my grandmother Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena and the other was my mother Filomena de Irureta Goyena. Because she married a divorced man, my father George, they had to have the legal ceremony in Uruguay as divorce was not allowed in Argentina. So she kept her unmarried name for most of her life.
Those three women made possible whatever modicum of success I can now boast about. If I live in a stress free financial situation with money in the bank it is all about my Rosemary who quietly took over our finances when we were married.
During those 52 years she made all the correct (and even daring) decisions that finally brought us and our two daughters to a Canada in 1975, which in this 21st century I like to define as a country that has air, space and water.
It is impossible for me to consider International Women’s Day without thinking of a strong-willed woman who quietly (she never ever shouted) persuaded me to act in the correct manner to the point that this, heretofore Latin macho, just let her have her own will because I knew she knew better.
From early on she was a proto-feminist telling me to sew my own buttons and hem my jeans. It was only when large plants had to be moved that she knew that I could be of help as I was a tad stronger (physically) than she was.
I have no idea how in a recent past when she would visit her mother in Brockville (via the Ottawa airport) she would drive a rented car in a snowstorm safely. I am sure that is ample proof that some guardian angels may be women and that she surely had one.
Often she pointed out (quietly) of my expenses in matting and framing my photographs for the many shows I had in the late 90s and the beginning of this century. She knew that she had to allow for some expenses that were making her then stressful financial planning a problem that kept her from sleeping nights. But no I thought I was an artist!
So for many years I was the artist and she was the straight woman who knew about money and how to help our granddaughters with their math. Then I discovered her talent for gardening and for the picking of good garden plants before anybody knew about it. I thought she was a snob (but then I love snobs and that is why I particularly loved her).
How was I to know that when we visited New York City in the beginning of 2018 that my wife was an avid art fiend? We showed up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 10am and left when it closed at 5:30. She was keen on seeing everything even when I suggested, “Would you want to see the medieval armour collection?” She spent lots of time taking photographs with her phone of the horse armour. Then on other days we went to MOMA and the Frick. There was little time left to go to other museums. How could I have not known this?
Rosemary knew how to dress elegantly. I may have inherited something from my mother in this in that I was the one who would go with Rosemary to buy shoes and she would end up liking and buying the shoes I suggested.
As a little boy I was not allowed to play with dolls. I believe that little boys should be allowed. In my photographic career which involved many women of note and some not so well known, my desire to dress up dolls became a reality. My photographs of women for magazine involved good styling and elegant posture with graceful placement of hands. My Rosemary was the one who taught me this and she would sometime brutally tell me why a photograph was all wrong. I learned quickly.
For years I had the fantasy of being asked to arrange for the guest list for a reception for the visiting Queen Elizabeth. I had three shoo-ins: they were Arthur Erickson, Carole Taylor and my Rosemary.
Rosemary never spoke much. With her in any room everybody noticed her strong presence.
Perhaps it was my imagination, but these folks would then look at me and think: “How did you manage to land this strong and successful woman?”