In that long gone 20th century, the concept of the housewife who stayed at home to cook, clean and take care of the children while the husband went to work, was one I never was exposed to. It was the century when if you were a boy you wanted to be an engineer (not of the locomotive kind), architect, doctor or lawyer. And if you happened to have daughters, they were not to have careers. They were supposed to look for an architect, doctor or lawyer.
My father was a journalist, but because he was an alcoholic, he threw a bottle of ink at the publisher of the Buenos Aires Herald who offered to make him editor. By the early 50s he was no longer at home with us. My mother was a busy teacher teaching physics, chemistry and mathematics at the Buenos Aires American School. Because we had a live-in housekeeper, Mercedes my mother never cooked or cleaned.
When we moved to Mexico City it was all the same. We could afford live-in help. I liked to clean, polish furniture and silver. My grandmother, Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena told me I had inherited this from my grandfather Don Tirso. It was not until I married Rosemary in 1968 that for two years we shared the cooking and cleaning activities. As soon as we moved to a little brick house in Arboledas, in the outskirts of Mexico City, did we have that live-in help.
Once in Vancouver we had our Clemencia follow us and she did the cooking and cleaning in our house in Burnaby. Once we moved to Kerrisdale all help ended. My Rosemary went to her office job in her Audi and I stayed at home to look for free-lance work, clean and cook.
Looking back at all that I have come to realize that I was the genuine model of the stay-at-home wife and Rosemary was the man-of-the-house who returned tired from the office. But there is more damning evidence of that.
Today I carried out the garbage, the blue box and they yellow bag full of my read NY Times and Vancouve Sun. Sometimes, in the past, Rosemary would forget and she would go out in her nightgown on the morning of the collection. Until I adjusted to taking out the garbage back in January I, too sometimes went out in my nightgown.
Besides knowing how to invest our money, pay the house taxes, pay the taxes for us and for our daughters, pay the hydro and Telus bills, Rosemary took care of our health payments and made appointments for me to see the doctors. Once Rosemary had retired from her job she handled all the responsibilities usually left to the man of the house.
Now almost a year since she died on December 9, I am too stupid to figure out finances or were to look in our files in order to pay the house insurance. Luckily I have my two daughters who are helping lots. But what is patently obvious is that for most of our 52 years together Rosemary was the man of the house. What was I? Whatever it was that I was, I am now paying the dire consequences.