|George Waterhouse Hayward|
As I wait my own meeting with the grim reaper I have been looking back at the deaths of family and friends and how those deaths affected, formed and made me be who I am today.1966 - George Waterhouse Hayward - The first death was that of my father sometime (yes I do not know the exact date) in Buenos Aires in 1966. I had returned to Buenos Aires from Mexico where I was living with a dual purpose. I wanted to serve my conscription (I thought it was the patriotic thing to do at the time) in the Argentine Navy and also to locate my father. My mother, grandmother and I had moved to Mexico to live there escaping the turmoil of Perón and the fact my father was an alcoholic. I was able to find him. Of our weekend meetings and conversations my memory is now vacant.
A uncle who was not really my uncle, Leo Mahdhubian called me at my office next to the Secretaría de Marina and told me in English, “Your father kicked the bucket yesterday. He was taken to the Hospital Pirovano by a police sergeant and pronounced dead at arrival. Because of the intervention of the policeman, who picked him up during a cardiac arrest you have to go to the police station tomorrow.”
This I did. But I was told at the station that this was impossible as the dead man’s son had arrived and signed the documents. That is when I discovered I had an older half-brother.
On the next day the police sergeant called me, “I was a friend of your father’s so I took the liberty of emptying his pockets before I took him to the hospital. He had a large sum of money as he planned to bribe a general and get you out of your conscription and send you back to Mexico with your mother.”
The money in my father’s pocket paid for a modest funeral.
|Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena|
1971- Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena. - My abuelita (as I called my maternal grandmother) is the one who really educated me. My mother was much too busy teaching to make ends meet. My grandmother was a coloratura soprano and an artist. She saved me from many chinelazos (a whipping from my mother who used Filipino slippers for the job) saying to my mother, “Nena, you have to go easy on Alex, he is an artist like me.” She educated me in an ultra modern way. It was never, “Alex, don’t do that.” It was always, “If you do that this is what is going to happen.” Only many years later I found out that all the aphorisms and advice she gave me came from her detailed reading of Don Quixote. She had a sweet tooth so she showered me with cakes and candy. We both dunked our toast with butter, jam and peanut butter into our coffee.
But I still cannot believe that she had the stomach to take me, sometime in the middle 50s in Buenos Aires, to see the complete serials of Superman. There were at least 25 of them. As we left the movie house I had a terrible stomach ache. With her, I saw many pirate and cowboy movies. Her favourites, and mine, were the swashbucklers. After the movies we went for ice cream sodas.
Because she was the de–facto cultural attaché for the Philippine Embassy in Mexico in 1955 she was told to rent (and she was subsidized) a large house in a lovely neighbourhoods (Lomas de Chapultepec). She had to give parties. And this is how this idiot met, but was too ignorant to know who they were, Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, Dr. Atl and Alma Reed who inspired the famous Mexican song “La Peregrina.”
Without me knowing then the significance to come, she told me how when my grandfather Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena died when he was 30 she and her three children had to leave the Philippines in 1920 to find work. It was impossible for a woman of good birth to be an opera singer in Manila. The ones that sang were prostitutes. She told me that they disembarked from a Japanese boat in a wild place that had mountains and tall trees called Vancouver. They went to a train station (the CP Train Station) and they went to Montreal and from there to the Bronx. My fate may have been sealed then!
|Filomena Cristeta de Irureta Goyena Hayward|
1972 – Filomena de Irureta Goyena Hayward - My mother died at age 59 in the presence of my wife Rosemary and me. She breathed in but never exhaled. The initial death certificate or pronouncement that she was indeed dead was signed by the nearest doctor in our neighbourhood. He was a veterinarian.
My mother who had a long illness called Meniere’s Disease, that made her ultimately deaf, and had severe bouts of vertigo, told me a few months before, “I do not believe in a God that cares for us. I have lost my belief in prayer.”
I did not know what to say. Both Rosemary and I never forgot that sometime in 1971 when my mother was living with us in our little house in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico, Rosemary told us we did not have enough money to pay the rent. My mother sold her lovely piano and she cried when it was taken away.
1989 – Susy Bornstein was my second girlfriend during my conscription in Buenos Aires. In 1967 she called me to tell me that I had no future, that I was uncouth and that she was leaving me for the first violinist of the Teatro Colón Orchestra. I was not to call her back. In the wintry gloom of Buenos Aires I hit rock bottom listening to Miles Davis's Kind of Blue.
I located her in 1988 when with writer Mark Budgen we went for a Toronto magazine called Vista on assignment for stories on Argentina and Uruguay. I rang the bell at her apartment. She opened the door and said, “Aren’t you going to kiss me?” All I remember is that she told me that her marriage to the violinist had been a disaster. I remember nothing more and I do not even know if she ever had children. I found out of her death from her friend (my first Argentine girlfriend who was really Uruguayan) from cancer.
I could not understand how a such a lovely woman, and young, I so cherished could now be dead.
|Ines O'Reily Kuker|
2017 -Inesita O’Reilly Kuker was my first cousin and godmother. She was my godmother because her mother Aunt Inez adored my mother and wanted to be my godmother. But this in ultra-Roman Catholic Argentina was impossible because she was divorced. So Aunt Inez appointed her 19 year-old daughter. My middle name of Alexander was in honour of Aunt Inez’s new husband (who was not divorced) Alejandro Ariosa.
It was in 1988 when writer Mark Budgen and I visited Inesita. It did not take too long before she gave Mark the name Marx because of his political views. In another trip (I took many to Buenos Aires) I told my granddaughter Rebecca who accompanied me that the Queen of England talked like Inesita simply because Inesita had been born before the queen. It is one of Inesita’s sons, Georgito (very much alive) who is my favourite relative. When I was in the navy he was in the army and his brother Ricardo was doing his service as a very young policeman. The three of us would sit at a huge table for dinner in our uniforms. The table was large because Inesita, a widow with four children, had married a widower with four daughters. They all seemed to have boyfriends.
|Raúl Guerrero Montemayor|
January 9, 2013 - Raúl Guerrero Montemayor was one of my mentors who gave my life a purpose and without knowing arranged for me to meet my Rosemary. When I arrived to Mexico after the Argentine Navy I did not know what to do with my life. My initial idea of becoming an engineer in the early 60s died when I had no capacity for understanding capacitance in electricity. Raúl told me he was going to teach me how to teach English with the Berlitz method. In short order I was working in a school that would send me to teach executives in large American companies like Richardson-Merrill, Palmolive, General Electric, etc. One day when I was leaving the school I spotted from the back a young woman also leaving. She was wearing a mini skirt that showed lovely legs, she had very long straight blonde hair. I knew then I was going to marry her. This I did in February of 1968.
When I last saw Raúl a few weeks before his death he asked me if I wanted coffee. A helper brought the French Press with the coffee ready to be poured. Raúl sent him back to make more coffee as you never press the plunger of a French Press until it is facing the guests. He was dying of prostrate cancer. He had tears in his eyes and confessed something we all knew but he had never openly told us. “I am heartbroken because I never dared to be who I was.” Raúl was gay.
|Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C.|
April 24 2013 Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. My mother once I had finished the 8th grade in Nueva, Rosita, Coahuila found a Roman Catholic boarding school, St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas. In those four years there I obtained a liberal Catholic education (very much like I would have had in a school run by Jesuits). I was taught so well that to this day so much of what I know came from there. Brother Edwin taught us religion but I soon came to realize that he was teaching us Aristotelian and Thomistic Theology. I learned to think with this man from the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He also gently forced me to learn to play the alto saxophone for the school band and paid me to catch mice and clean the band room. With the money I bought my first really good camera, a Pentacon- F.
By a quirk of his longevity both my granddaughter met him as did my Rosemary. One day when he took me to the nearby school cemetery he pointed at all these little white crosses all in neat rows. These were the graves of all my teachers. He was the last of them. To me it seemed like they had all been lined up against the wall and executed. It took me days to absorb the significance of finding out that not one or two had died, but all but one.
|Juan Manuel Sánchez & Linda Lorenzo|
October 5 2016 - Juan Manuel Sánchez was an Argentine painter who was my friend here in Vancouver from the late 90s until he and his wife, artist Nora Patrich, separated and went back to Buenos Aires in separate airplanes some 12 years ago. It was Juan who first made me realize that not only was I good photographer but that I was also an artist. This respect that he had for my work is what today gives me an impetus to keep on living (I am 79) as perhaps the best in me is yet to come.
One day he placed a Chilean (in Spanish) edition of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. “Lélo,” he said. I did and among the many things I learned in the novel was the origin of gentians in Switzerland. Such was my appreciation of gentian blue that I bought some for our garden and Rosemary, who loved any blue flowered plant flower, adored her gentians.
The last time I saw Juan in his studio on Calle Paraguay, we went around the corner to the famous pizza restaurant called El Cuartito. We had a large fugazza which is an Argentine pizza that only has lots of cheese and browned onion. With it we drank Moscato. The brand name of this powerful and very sweet alcohol amended wine served chilled, is the odd-sounding Crotta. As we left Juan told me, “Ando pedo.” This is Argentine, “I am a little drunk.” We went to the corner for a coffee. I told him, “The next time I come..” He interrupted me, “I will not be here anymore.” And so it was.
|Casi and granddaughter Lauren Stewart|
1978 – 2011 Nine cats. Ever since Rosemary died last December 9 2020 our formerly two cats but now my cats Niño and Niña are my constant companions. When I turn off the light on the bed that I once shared with Rosemary their living presence, their warmth as they cuddle up to me does give me a hope to keep living. After all I have to take care of them.
I believe that the death of all our cats and, that except for one that disappeared, I buried them all, is a lesson that these felines teach us. They teach us to accept the inevitability of death and, furthermore, to enjoy their presence as living entities who I must observe die with dignity.
|Rosemary Elizabeth Healy Waterhouse-Hayward 31 July 2020|
December 9 2020- Rosemary Elizabeth Healey Waterhouse-Hayward. Her death was devastating to me as I had planned to die first. Now I know that she might have done me a favour (giving me a new purpose). Had I died first she would have kept paying the bills and running our finances without losing a beat. But with her death I have come to understand how helpless I am because she did everything for me. I am slowly learning to pay those bills as I live in a house that is all paid for and there is money in the bank thanks to Rosemary’s acumen.
But after a year I am no better than the day she died. In the short years left to me I understand that the only way I will find peace is with the oblivion and nothingness of death. Both she and I did not believe in an afterlife. We knew we would never see each other again. Minutes before she died she stared at me and I knew that in spite of my two daughters older granddaughter present that this was an intimate goodbye.