|Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog (link below) about 5 men in Vancouver who are over 80, and not only have a complete set of marbles in their head, they are actively doing stuff. I believe that this city does not respect its aging population. It is a city with a poor memory for its past.
I will be 81 in August and I think I also have a good bag of marbles. I am taking photographs with both my film cameras and my digital camera. Yesterday I wrote my 5800th blog.
But the phone does not ring and more and more I feel the isolation of living with my two cats for company. I am beginning to understand why some people opt for going to one of those homes that cater to people my age. There I would have company.
I only had one grandparent in my life. The others were all dead. My grandmother, Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena, was born in Manila in 1992, she was educated in Valencia and died in 1969 at age 7 7.
Because my father left our Buenos Aires home voluntarily in 1950 (he was an alcoholic) when I was 8 and my mother worked as a teacher at the American School in Belgrano R, I can state that I was educated by my abuelita. I called her Abue (pronounced Ahbweh). Only after she died did I connect that her education, of yours truly, came via Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quijote de la Mancha.
The novel contains lots of advice that Sancho Panza gave his master. My grandmother used what now would be seen as a modern and positive approach. She never told me to not do this or that. Her method was, “The donkey that got used to not eating died”. Another variant of that one was, “Those who do not want to eat will have a choir at their burial.”
|My mother Filomena, me, Abuelita, Tía Sarita, Uncle Tony & Jorge Wenceslao circa 50/51
I had a profound respect for her. I was not an easy child. My mother used the Filipino chinela (slipper) method of punishment. She never whipped me in anger as she would say, “Alex you will give you some chinelazos in 10 minutes." I suffered in the anticipation. If my abuelita was around she would say, “Nena, Alex is an artist like me so you have to be more forgiving.”
She was a coloratura soprano and a fine painter. One of her pastels is in the picture above.
She constantly told me that my grandfather Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena was the only person in the Philippines who was a member of the lofty Real Academia Española. She gave me a fine Spanish dictionary reiterating that I would learn to love the language of my grandfather. I did & I do.
On the other side of the coin she seemed to respect my judgment. My mother, she and I were at the seaside resort of Mar del Plata (Fangio was born there) when I was 7 or 8. At the dinner table Abue asked me what I thought of her new dangling earrings. I told he, "Parecen orejas de burro, " "They look like donkey's ears." She got up from the table and told me to follow her. We went to the edge of the sea, she removed her earrings and threw them.
I cannot imagine another grandparent taking her 9 year old
grandson to see all the episodes (more than 15 I believe) of Superman at the movies.
Not only that she would take me to see cowboy, pirate, war and swashbuckler films. After we would have ice-cream sodas at a joint called Roxy in downtown
Buenos Aires. She had a sweet tooth. So do I.
My grandmother did not live with us. She had an apartment with a piano downtown. My mother and I would take tram 35 to visit her. There Abue, my uncle Tony would sing accompanied by my mother on the piano. It was in Abue’s apartment where I fell in love with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Abue told me so many refrains from the Quijote that they all crop up in my memory at any moment is the occasion reminds me of it.
One of my favourites, in connection of those five men who are over 80, she would tell me, “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.” In English that’s, “The devil knows more, not because he is the devil but because he is an old man.”
Because in her 19th century Darwin was much in the news, she often told me when someone blundered (she would never call them stupid), “They showed their tail.”
I believe that a lot of my success as a teacher (Abue was a good one) and photographer and, even husband to my Rosemary, is due to the upbringing she gave me.
Amazingly, before Abue died in 1969, she met my Rosemary in Veracruz. In some sort of way Rosemary inherited some of her ways and our two daughters grew up just fine.
In this century I have been told by people close to me that just because I am an old man I don’t necessarily merit respect. Somehow I think my Abue would have some Sancho Panza aphorism that would challenge that.
My wife died on 9 December 2020. The fine life she and I shared with our two granddaughters is gone. It is over. Why?
Because I am an old man.