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Victor D López Dec 2018
You were born five years before the Spanish Civil War that would see your father exiled.
Language came later to you than your little brother Manuel. And you stuttered for a time.
Unlike those who speak incessantly with nothing to say, you were quiet and reserved.
Your mother mistook shyness for dimness, a tragic mistake that scarred you for life.

When your brother Manuel died at the age of three from meningitis, you heard your mom
Exclaim: “God took my bright boy and left me the dull one.” You were four or five.
You never forgot those words. How could you? Yet you loved your mom with all your heart.
But you also withdrew further into a shell, solitude your companion and best friend.

You were, in fact, an exceptional child. Stuttering went away at five or so never to return,
And by the time you were in middle school, your teacher called your mom in for a rare
Conference and told her that yours was a gifted mind, and that you should be prepared
For university study in the sciences, particularly engineering.

She wrote your father exiled in Argentina to tell him the good news, that your teachers
Believed you would easily gain entrance to the (then and now) highly selective public university
Where seats were few, prized and very difficult to attain based on merit-based competitive
Exams. Your father’s response? “Buy him a couple of oxen and let him plow the fields.”

That reply from a highly respected man who was a big fish in a tiny pond in his native Oleiros
Of the time is beyond comprehension. He had apparently opted to preserve his own self-
Interest in having his son continue his family business and also work the family lands in his
Absence. That scar too was added to those that would never heal in your pure, huge heart.

Left with no support for living expenses for college (all it would have required), you moved on,
Disappointed and hurt, but not angry or bitter; you would simply find another way.
You took the competitive exams for the two local military training schools that would provide
An excellent vocational education and pay you a small salary in exchange for military service.

Of hundreds of applicants for the prized few seats in each of the two institutions, you
Scored first for the toughest of the two and thirteenth for the second. You had your pick.
You chose Fabrica de Armas, the lesser of the two, so that a classmate who had scored just
Below the cut-off at the better school could be admitted. That was you. Always and forever.

At the military school, you were finally in your element. You were to become a world-class
Machinist there—a profession that would have gotten you well paid work anywhere on earth
For as long as you wanted it. You were truly a mechanical genius who years later would add
Electronics, auto mechanics and specialized welding to his toolkit through formal training.

Given a well-stocked machine shop, you could reverse engineer every machine without
Blueprints and build a duplicate machine shop. You became a gifted master mechanic
And worked in line and supervisory positions at a handful of companies throughout your life in
Argentina and in the U.S., including Westinghouse, Warner-Lambert, and Pepsi Co.

You loved learning, especially in your fields (electronics, mechanics, welding) and expected
Perfection in everything you did. Every difficult job at work was given to you everywhere you
Worked. You would not sleep at night when a problem needed solving. You’d sketch
And calculate and re-sketch solutions and worked even in your dreams with singular passion.

You were more than a match for the academic and physical rigors of military school,
But life was difficult for you in the Franco era when some instructors would
Deprecatingly refer to you as “Roxo”—Galician for “red”-- reflecting your father’s
Support for the failed Republic. Eventually, the abuse was too much for you to bear.

Once while standing at attention in a corridor with the other cadets waiting for
Roll call, you were repeatedly poked in the back surreptitiously. Moving would cause
Demerits and demerits could cause loss of points on your final grade and arrest for
Successive weekends. You took it awhile, then lost your temper.

You turned to the cadet behind you and in a fluid motion grabbed him by his buttoned jacket
And one-handedly hung him up on a hook above a window where you were standing in line.
He thrashed about, hanging by the back of his jacket, until he was brought down by irate Military instructors.
You got weekend arrest for many weeks and a 10% final grade reduction.

A similar fate befell a co-worker a few years later in Buenos Aires who called you a
*******. You lifted him one handed by his throat and held him there until
Your co-workers intervened, forcibly persuading you to put him down.
That lesson was learned by all in no uncertain terms: Leave Felipe’s mom alone.

You were incredibly strong, especially in your youth—no doubt in part because of rigorous farm
Work, military school training and competitive sports. As a teenager, you once unwisely bent
Down to pick something up in view of a ram, presenting the animal an irresistible target.
It butted you and sent you flying into a haystack. It, too, quickly learned its lesson.

You dusted yourself off, charged the ram, grabbed it by the horns and twirled it around once,
Throwing it atop the same haystack as it had you. The animal was unhurt, but learned to
Give you a wide berth from that day forward. Overall, you were very slow to anger absent
Head-butting, repeated pokings, or disrespectful references to your mom by anyone.    

I seldom saw you angry and it was mom, not you, who was the disciplinarian, slipper in hand.
There were very few slaps from you for me. Mom would smack my behind with a slipper often
When I was little, mostly because I could be a real pain, wanting to know/try/do everything
Completely oblivious to the meaning of the word “no” or of my own limitations.

Mom would sometimes insist you give me a proper beating. On one such occasion for a
Forgotten transgression when I was nine, you  took me to your bedroom, took off your belt, sat
Me next to you and whipped your own arm and hand a few times, whispering to me “cry”,
Which I was happy to do unbidden. “Don’t tell mom.” I did not. No doubt she knew.

The prospect of serving in a military that considered you a traitor by blood became harder and
Harder to bear, and in the third year of school, one year prior to graduation, you left to join
Your exiled father in Argentina, to start a new life. You left behind a mother and two sisters you
Dearly loved to try your fortune in a new land. Your dog thereafter refused food, dying of grief.

You arrived in Buenos Aires to see a father you had not seen for ten years at the age of 17.
You were too young to work legally, but looked older than your years (a shared trait),
So you lied about your age and immediately found work as a Machinist/Mechanic first grade.
That was unheard of and brought you some jealousy and complaints in the union shop.

The union complained to the general manager about your top-salary and rank. He answered,
“I’ll give the same rank and salary to anyone in the company who can do what Felipe can do.”
No doubt the jealousy and grumblings continued by some for a time. But there were no takers.
And you soon won the group over, becoming their protected “baby-brother” mascot.

Your dad left for Spain within a year or so of your arrival when Franco issued a general pardon
To all dissidents who had not spilt blood (e.g., non combatants). He wanted you to return to
Help him reclaim the family business taken over by your mom in his absence with your help.
But you refused to give up the high salary, respect and independence denied you at home.

You were perhaps 18 and alone, living in a single room by a schoolhouse you had shared with Your dad.
But you had also found a new loving family in your uncle José, one of your father’s Brothers, and his family. José, and one of his daughters, Nieves and her
Husband, Emilio, and
Their children, Susana, Oscar (Ruben Gordé), and Osvaldo, became your new nuclear family.

You married mom in 1955 and had two failed business ventures in the quickly fading
Post-WW II Argentina of the late 1950s and early 1960s.The first, a machine shop, left
You with a small fortune in unpaid government contract work.  The second, a grocery store,
Also failed due to hyperinflation and credit extended too easily to needy customers.

Throughout this, you continued earning an exceptionally good salary. But in the mid 1960’s,
Nearly all of it went to pay back creditors of the failed grocery store. We had some really hard
Times. Someday I’ll write about that in some detail. Mom went to work as a maid, including for
Wealthy friends, and you left home at 4:00 a.m. to return long after dark to pay the bills.


The only luxury you and mom retained was my Catholic school tuition. There was no other
Extravagance. Not paying bills was never an option for you or mom. It never entered your
Minds. It was not a matter of law or pride, but a matter of honor. There were at least three very
Lean years where you and mom worked hard, earned well but we were truly poor.

You and mom took great pains to hide this from me—and suffered great privations to insulate
Me as best you could from the fallout of a shattered economy and your refusal to cut your loses
Had done to your life savings and to our once-comfortable middle-class life.
We came to the U.S. in the late 1960s after waiting for more than three years for visas—to a new land of hope.

Your sister and brother-in-law, Marisa and Manuel, made their own sacrifices to help bring us
Here. You had about $1,000 from the down payment on our tiny down-sized house, And
Mom’s pawned jewelry. (Hyperinflation and expenses ate up the remaining mortgage payments
Due). Other prized possessions were left in a trunk until you could reclaim them. You never did.

Even the airline tickets were paid for by Marisa and Manuel. You insisted upon arriving on
Written terms for repayment including interest. You were hired on the spot on your first
Interview as a mechanic, First Grade, despite not speaking a word of English. Two months later,
The debt was repaid, mom was working too and we moved into our first apartment.

You worked long hours, including Saturdays and daily overtime, to remake a nest egg.
Declining health forced you to retire at 63 and shortly thereafter you and mom moved out of
Queens into Orange County. You bought a townhouse two hours from my permanent residence
Upstate NY and for the next decade were happy, traveling with friends and visiting us often.

Then things started to change. Heart issues (two pacemakers), colon cancer, melanoma,
Liver and kidney disease caused by your many medications, high blood pressure, gout,
Gall bladder surgery, diabetes . . . . And still you moved forward, like the Energizer Bunny,
Patched up, battered, scarred, bruised but unstoppable and unflappable.

Then mom started to show signs of memory loss along with her other health issues. She was
Good at hiding her own ailments, and we noticed much later than we should have that there
Was a serious problem. Two years ago, her dementia worsening but still functional, she had
Gall bladder surgery with complications that required four separate surgeries in three months.

She never recovered and had to be placed in a nursing home. Several, in fact, as at first she
Refused food and you and I refused to simply let her waste away, which might have been
Kinder, but for the fact that “mientras hay vida, hay esperanza” as Spaniards say.
(While there is Life there is hope.) There is nothing beyond the power of God. Miracles do happen.

For two years you lived alone, refusing outside help, engendering numerous arguments about
Having someone go by a few times a week to help clean, cook, do chores. You were nothing if
Not stubborn (yet another shared trait). The last argument on the subject about two weeks ago
Ended in your crying. You’d accept no outside help until mom returned home. Period.

You were in great pain because of bulging discs in your spine and walked with one of those
Rolling seats with handlebars that mom and I picked out for you some years ago. You’d sit
As needed when the pain was too much, then continue with very little by way of complaints.
Ten days ago you finally agreed that you needed to get to the hospital to drain abdominal fluid.

Your failing liver produced it and it swelled your abdomen and lower extremities to the point
Where putting on shoes or clothing was very difficult, as was breathing. You called me from a
Local store crying that you could not find pants that would fit you. We talked, long distance,
And I calmed you down, as always, not allowing you to wallow in self pity but trying to help.

You went home and found a new pair of stretch pants Alice and I had bought you and you were
Happy. You had two changes of clothes that still fit to take to the hospital. No sweat, all was
Well. The procedure was not dangerous and you’d undergone it several times in recent years.
It would require a couple of days at the hospital and I’d see you again on the weekend.

I could not be with you on Monday, February 22 when you had to go to the hospital, as I nearly
Always had, because of work. You were supposed to be admitted the previous Friday, but
Doctors have days off too, and yours could not see you until Monday when I could not get off
Work. But you were not concerned; this was just routine. You’d be fine. I’d see you in just days.

We’d go see mom Friday, when you’d be much lighter and feel much better. Perhaps we’d go
Shopping for clothes if the procedure still left you too bloated for your usual clothes.
You drove to your doctor and then transported by ambulette. I was concerned, but not too Worried.
You called me sometime between five or six p.m. to tell me you were fine, resting.

“Don’t worry. I’m safe here and well cared for.” We talked for a little while about the usual
Things, with my assuring you I’d see you Friday or Saturday. You were tired and wanted to sleep
And I told you to call me if you woke up later that night or I’d speak to you the following day.
Around 10:00 p.m. I got a call from your cell and answered in the usual upbeat manner.

“Hey, Papi.” On the other side was a nurse telling me my dad had fallen. I assured her she was
Mistaken, as my dad was there for a routine procedure to drain abdominal fluid. “You don’t
Understand. He fell from his bed and struck his head on a nightstand or something
And his heart has stopped. We’re working on him for 20 minutes and it does not look good.”

“Can you get here?” I could not. I had had two or three glasses of wine shortly before the call
With dinner. I could not drive the three hours to Middletown. I cried. I prayed.
Fifteen minutes Later I got the call that you were gone. Lost in grief, not knowing what to do, I called my wife.
Shortly thereafter came a call from the coroner. An autopsy was required. I could not see you.

Four days later your body was finally released to the funeral director I had selected for his
Experience with the process of interment in Spain. I saw you for the last time to identify
Your body. I kissed my fingers and touched your mangled brow. I could not even have the
Comfort of an open casket viewing. You wanted cremation. You body awaits it as I write this.

You were alone, even in death alone. In the hospital as strangers worked on you. In the medical
Examiner’s office as you awaited the autopsy. In the autopsy table as they poked and prodded
And further rent your flesh looking for irrelevant clues that would change nothing and benefit
No one, least of all you. I could not be with you for days, and then only for a painful moment.

We will have a memorial service next Friday with your ashes and a mass on Saturday. I will
Never again see you in this life. Alice and I will take you home to your home town, to the
Cemetery in Oleiros, La Coruña, Spain this summer. There you will await the love of your life.
Who will join you in the fullness of time. She could not understand my tears or your passing.

There is one blessing to dementia. She asks for her mom, and says she is worried because she
Has not come to visit in some time. She is coming, she assures me whenever I see her.
You visited her every day except when health absolutely prevented it. You spent this February 10
Apart, your 61st wedding anniversary, too sick to visit her. Nor was I there. First time.

I hope you did not realize you were apart on the 10th but doubt it to be the case. I
Did not mention it, hoping you’d forgotten, and neither did you. You were my link to mom.
She cannot dial or answer a phone, so you would put your cell phone to her ear whenever I
Was not in class or meetings and could speak to her. She always recognized me by phone.

I am three hours from her. I could visit at most once or twice a month. Now even that phone
Lifeline is severed. Mom is completely alone, afraid, confused, and I cannot in the short term at
Least do much about that. You were not supposed to die first. It was my greatest fear, and
Yours, but as with so many things that we cannot change I put it in the back of my mind.

It kept me up many nights, but, like you, I still believed—and believe—in miracles.
I would speak every night with my you, often for an hour, on the way home from work late at
Night during my hour-long commute, or from home on days I worked from home as I cooked
Dinner. I mostly let you talk, trying to give you what comfort and social outlet I could.

You were lonely, sad, stuck in an endless cycle of emotional and physical pain.
Lately you were especially reticent to get off the phone. When mom was home and still
Relatively well, I’d call every day too but usually spoke to you only a few minutes and you’d
Transfer the phone to mom, with whom I usually chatted much longer.

For months, you’d had difficulty hanging up. I knew you did not want to go back to the couch,
To a meaningless TV program, or to writing more bills. You’d say good-bye, or “enough for
Today” and immediately begin a new thread, then repeat the cycle, sometimes five or six times.
You even told me, at least once crying recently, “Just hang up on me or I’ll just keep talking.”

I loved you, dad, with all my heart. We argued, and I’d often scream at you in frustration,
Knowing you would never take it to heart and would usually just ignore me and do as
You pleased. I knew how desperately you needed me, and I tried to be as patient as I could.
But there were days when I was just too tired, too frustrated, too full of other problems.

There were days when I got frustrated with you just staying on the phone for an hour when I
Needed to call Alice, to eat my cold dinner, or even to watch a favorite program. I felt guilty
And very seldom cut a conversation short, but I was frustrated nonetheless even knowing
How much you needed me and also how much I needed you, and how little you asked of me.  

How I would love to hear your voice again, even if you wanted to complain about the same old
Things or tell me in minutest detail some unimportant aspect of your day. I thought I would
Have you at least a little longer. A year? Two? God only knew, and I could hope. There would be
Time. I had so much more to share with you, so much more to learn when life eased up a bit.

You taught me to fish (it did not take) and to hunt (that took even less) and much of what I
Know about mechanics, and electronics. We worked on our cars together for years—from brake
Jobs, to mufflers, to real tune-ups in the days when points, condensers, and timing lights had Meaning, to rebuilding carburetors and fixing rust and dents, and power windows and more.

We were friends, good friends, who went on Sunday drives to favorite restaurants or shopping
For tools when I was single and lived at home. You taught me everything in life that I need to
Know about all the things that matter. The rest is meaningless paper and window dressing.
I knew all your few faults and your many colossal strengths and knew you to be the better man.

Not even close. I could never do what you did. I could never excel in my fields as you did in
Yours.  You were the real deal in every way, from every angle, throughout your life. I did not
Always treat you that way. But I loved you very deeply as anyone who knew us knows.
More importantly, you knew it. I told you often, unembarrassed in the telling. I love you, Dad.

The world was enriched by your journey. You do not leave behind wealth, or a body or work to
Outlive you. You never had your fifteen minutes in the sun. But you mattered. God knows your
Virtue, your absolute integrity, and the purity of your heart. I will never know a better man.
I will love you and miss you and carry you in my heart every day of my life. God bless you, dad.
You can hear all six of my Unsung Heroes poems read by me in my podcasts at https://open.spotify.com/show/1zgnkuAIVJaQ0Gb6pOfQOH. (plus much more of my fiction, non-fiction and poetry in English and Spanish)
The Voyage

The big seagull sat on the bow of my rowing boat
                                   on my way to Argentina and Rosita,
which I never met she had married guitar player-
had unfriendly eyes ready to peck my eyes out.                  
                                   I regretted my heroism.
I wanted to go to Argentina because of its pampas
Beautiful horses and also to be famous for the voyage
                                  I was picked up by a merchant ship
it was actually going the wrong way docked in Antwerp
                                  Free beer for the, would be the hero.
I got a job on an old steamer bound for Argentina.
                                
                                 Buenos Aires,
A City with so many beautiful women it took a long
before I got my stead looking for the tree of wisdom.
                                 I found it burning in the night
the Gauchos were feeling cold and set fire to the tree.
                                 What matters is the journey which is a fine sentence to cover for absolute failure.
first step

when he looks at a woman he searches for qualities that attract him because he wants to desire her yet this tendency creates an imbalance or disadvantage he is rendered weak to a woman’s beauty or whatever traits he idealizes self-realizing this propensity he looks away from women years of disappointment neglect change him he becomes afraid of women gynophobic

2

when she looks at a man she searches for qualities she is critical of because she wants to be impervious to his power she is suspicious of all men their upper body strength penchant to be in control misperception of women as property misogyny emotional immaturity neediness to be mommyed selfishness insensitivity or over-sensitivity depending she wants to be treated with equal respect a loving nurturing relationship she is suspicious of all people their alternate realities passive aggressive behavior co-dependence craziness

3

he sees her then looks away she suspiciously notices nothing happens they go back to their separate homes alone always home alone grown calm in resignation yet disbelieving of this destiny saddened by this fate both worry about future she looks at her face naked body in mirror her stomach churns feels sad sickening remembers time when she was more carefree he puts one foot in front of other then walks tries to remember who taught him to walk how many times did he fall who taught him to laugh where did his sense of humor go

4

he sees her thinks she is lovely resists the urge to turn away he smiles says hello she notices nervously smiles her shaky voice articulates louder than a whisper hi

Tucson 2-step

they are standing in line at a café on 4th avenue he is directly behind her she is lanky wearing white background faded colors patterned summer dress thin straps over bare shoulders long brown hair few gray strands small unfinished tattoo on left calf leather slip-ons 1 inch heals he is at a complete loss for words thinks to make remark about the weather decides not to overhead fan stirs hot humid July air barista girl asks what she would like her eyes scan blackboard menu behind counter she hesitates remarks help him i need an extra moment to decide he steps up to counter money in hand orders small to go Arnold Palmer half black current lays $3 on counter mentions change goes in tip jar thank you barista girl moves fast he lifts cup from counter glances at woman still deciding then at barista girl says have a wonderful day turns walks out door dawns on him woman grows hair under her arms his 2nd most compelling female physique adornment fetish oh god he thinks to himself should i wait for her to make up her mind then approach try to craft conversation at least find out her name no i’m too weak in this moment she is so lovely let her go

2

she orders double Americana in small cup to go room for soy milk thinks to herself he did greet her perhaps their paths will cross on street why did he run off so fast she glances toward front of café notices window seat changes her mind instructs barista ******* 2nd thought make it for here digs through purse realizes she left wallet in truck explains to barista girl she needs to run out to her vehicle to retrieve wallet forgotten under front seat the air on the street is heavy dense she smells her own perspiration looks north then south does not see him walks to truck feels exhausted appetiteless almost nauseous wishes she did not order a drink thinks to get behind wheel drive home go to sleep

Tucson 3-step tango

she feels disappointment by her recent writings as if she is reaching a more sophisticated audience and setting a higher standard for her work yet she is not living up to her ambitions her recent writings smell of her past writings too emotional the damaged woman wounded child she wants to write more introspectively with detached humor that only comes from keener intelligence she slams her laptop shut decides to go to Club Congress for a ****** mary or margarita but Club Congress is haunted with small town cretins losers wannabes she considers Maynard’s decides Maynard’s is too safe suburban yuppyish finally gives in to thought of glass of pinot noir at Plush next comes what to wear jeans in mid-July desert heat is unacceptable perhaps loose fitting thin cotton white summer dress thin leather belt ankle high indian moccasins hair in ponytail no pigtail braids no ponytail no makeup maybe little ylang ylang oil no she thinks about her recent writings

2

i am one breath away from crying in every moment one breath away from flying m.i.a. in every moment one breath away from destroying everything there is beauty in ugliness beauty in decrepitude disease beauty in harm hurt suffering beauty in greed injustice betrayal beauty in corruption contamination pollution beauty in hate cruelty ignorance beauty in death we spend our whole lives searching for a good death we spend our whole lives searching for eternal love this modern world is too much for me over my head the horrors of this place are beyond words unspeakable voice inside maybe mom yells quit your whining or dad hollers stop complaining i am trying to smile through tears one breath away from giving in one breath away from becoming stranger to myself winter spring winter spring there is beauty in nothingness we spend our whole lives searching for ourselves learning who we are not finding grasping secrets from dark paths light trails winter spring winter spring i am one breath away

3

she sits alone at bar at Plush glass of pinot noir glass of ice water in front of her 2 bearded older men eye her from other end of bar she ignores them glances at her wristwatch tries to look like she is waiting for someone music from speakers antiquated rock standard it is early friday hours from dusk moderate middle aged crowd mingle wait for local jazz trio to begin she thinks about her recent writings wonders is it too late for love considers lesbian affair from 5 different perspectives 5 woman’s voices each describing same lesbian affair in 5 opposing accounts hmmm she sips dark red wine from glass chases it with ice water she considers a story about a gang of female bikers who ride south to Mexico

4

the Americans came through here last night crossing border illegally climbing over our fences digging tunnels beneath our barrier walls littering along their trail they travel in packs of every skin color carry guns knives explosives wear leather boots some are shirtless tattoos dyed hair mischievously smiling conceitedly stealing when in question murdering they rob our homes slaughter our chickens ransack gardens loot our harvest you can still smell the stink of their fast food breaths

5

she swallows the last dark red wine from glass chases it with ice water local jazz trio begins to play as bar fills with more people she decides to walk home one foot in front of other wonders who taught her how to walk how many times did she fall she laughs to herself

Tucson square dance

TPD 10-18 unconfirmed data report

7 post-University of Arizona female graduates go to Cactus Moon for several drinks and dancing then drive to Bashful Bandit for more drinks and dancing 2 women get into scuffle victim Brittany Garner female 23 years of age race #5 (Native American, Eskimo, Middle -Eastern, Other) 5’ 2” long black hair cut-off blue jean shorts clingy light blue top falls hits head on side of bar dies of fatal blow to skull forensics report crushed occipital lobe assailant Stacy Won female 31 years of age race #4 (Asian) 5’6” black jeans black leather jacket red helmet Honda motorcycle still at large

witness accounts

Jess Delaney female 33 years of age race #2 (White) 6’ tight black pencil skirt white sleeveless undershirt no bra 3” heels blond ponytail “that squirting little **** deserves everything she got she lied told Stacy i’m a ***** i never cheated on Brittany i don’t understand we were all having a good time getting buzzed and dancing we should never have left Cactus Moon **** Kerrie thought some biker dude might be hanging around the Bandit hell maybe the Bandit was a biker bar once but now it’s just a college sink hole full of drunken frat boys when Monique flashed a little *** they went crazy cheering and buying us shots it just got out of hand never should have happened the way it happened Stacy didn’t mean to **** Brittany it’s ****** up i want to go home please let me go home”

Sabrina Starn female 29 years of age race #2 (White) 5’8” trendy corporate gray suit black pumps red shoulder length hair “i have to be at work at 8 AM Stacy was drunk out of control she gets crazy when she drinks Brittany was trash talking pushing all Stacy’s buttons then Stacy accused Brittany of sleeping with Monique and all hell broke loose i didn’t see what happened i was in the powder room it’s a terrible tragedy unfortunate accident can i please be released i need to sleep this is madness”

Kerrie Angeles female 27 years of age race #1 (Hispanic) 5’ 6” black pants white shirt black hair cut stylishly short silver crucifix around neck red fingernails “when we got to the Bashful Bandit i was ***** soaking between my legs thinking about a cowgirl at Cactus Moon ready to **** anyone i saw fantasized pulling a train with those frat boys Monique had been kind of quiet at Cactus Moon but when we got to the Bashful Bandit she lit up dancing wild unbuttoning her top jacket Sabrina went to the ladies room to snort coke with biker dude Kerrie wanted but he wasn’t into her then Brittany started saying crazy stuff accusing Stacy of stealing Monique from Jess Jessie goes through women heartlessly she doesn’t give a **** about Monique Jessie knows if she wants Monique back she can simply fiddle a finger my guess is Stacy is half way to Argentina she never meant to **** Brittany i’m going to miss her real bad she was a good kid”

Ann Skyler female 28 years of age race  #2 (White) 4’ 11’’ green white red Mexican peasant skirt black t-shirt black high-tops hair in messy bun “i’m confused i saw them dancing laughing grinding up against each other Rage Against the Machine came on then Nine Inch Nails the room felt quaking dizzy claustrophobic then they were pushing each other shoving yelling frat boys cheering the next thing i knew Brittany was supine on the floor blood pouring out maybe she just slipped hit her head i don’t know what to think i feel real sad confused sick to my stomach scared”

Monique Smithson female 24 years of age race # 3 (Black) 5’ 9” blue jeans jean jacket cowboy boots nose ring braided pigtails “Stacy had it in for Brittany from the start i saw it in her eyes at Cactus Moon she made several clever toxic remarks they snapped at each other i never thought it would escalate to ****** poor sweet Brittany was always so susceptible i was looking down adjusting my jeans over my boots when it happened i heard felt a big thump glanced up Brittany was lying there lifeless blood spilling everywhere Stacy ran out fast i heard her bike engine take off in a hurry”

Rodeo Drive Tucson

matt’s hats tom’s tools & tobacco lou’s liquors fred’s beds frank’s planks bill’s drills jane’s drains & panes chuck’s check cashing cheryl’s barrels hank’s tanks tina’s trucks & tractors walt’s asphalt sean’s pawn rick’s rifles mom’s guns terry’s tires charlie’s harleys rhonda’s hondas jim’s rims art’s parts gus’s gasoline mike’s bikes frank’s feed gwen’s pens ann’s cans nancy’s nursery joes‘s clothes jess’s dresses bert’s skirts steve’s sleeves paul’s shawls michelle’s shells & bells al’s pails & snails sam’s hams & jams patty’s pancakes phil’s chili don’s donuts betty’s spaghetti bob’s burgers alycia’s quiches jean’s beans jerry’s berries anna’s bananas andy’s candies cathy’s taffies tony’s ponies roy’s toys kim’s whims marty’s parties jill’s pills rick’s tricks alice’s palace debbie’s disposal dave’s graves

Quinta Waltz de Tucson

she is definitely displeased profoundly disappointed in her latest literary efforts she dreams aches to create deeper discourse higher insight more thoughtful philosophical inquiries about life’s challenges beauty a better world overpowering love inspiration instead she writes paperback television trash stupid inadequate answers to solemn questions she wonders if she is too scratched dented to find love her ******* are definitely changing she is deeply disturbed not ready for menopause too young for menopause she wants to remain a fertile woman with smooth skin wet ******

2

her neighbor Leslie awoke to horrible morning Leslie’s 6 chickens were assaulted overnight precious Mabel dragged off feathers everywhere trail down the street other hens cowering slumped together with wilted necks 3 of them with puncture wounds Leslie carried them one by one inside washed their wounds hugged them cried who did this terrible act a neglected abusive neighborhood cat or some desert predator why didn’t Leslie wake to sounds of savage marauding now this creature knows hen’s whereabouts when will it return for more massacre what modifications need to be enforced to ensure their coup before nightfall

3

she wants to remain a hen keep producing eggs does not want is not ready to enter the next **** stage of this **** existence it was fun being pretty for men inspiring them to say do whacky things she wants to remain a hen she is definitely displeased profoundly disappointed in her latest literary attempts “Tucson square dance” (self-referential) ****** bit about Americans came through here last night in “Tucson 3-step” ****** "Rodeo Drive" tepid perhaps the pinot noir lowered her standards everything is becoming nothing she cannot sleep tosses turns thrashes sheets in humid heat of her lonesome bed is she is too scratched dented to find love she worries for Leslie

4

tomorrow is another day they say the rain will come last year’s monsoon never came the baking sun smothered her garden died one by one sleepless she will miss tomorrow’s pilates class the infrequent delightful chatty breakfast afterwards she dreams aches of deeper discourse higher insight with detached humor that only comes from keener intelligence more thoughtful philosophical inquiries about life’s challenges beauty a better world overpowering love inspiration she crossed the line tonight her ******* are definitely changing

Tucson 666

he decides to shave eighth to quarter inch length salt and pepper beard a.k.a. unshaven look he has worn for years and grow full mustache the whiskers on his upper lip are darker with sparse gray at first no one notices after weeks the mustache gradually fills evoking many contrasting remarks several women loath it several men admire it girl at grocery store suggests he grow Fu Manchu so she can tug on it shopgirl says he looks like Charlie Chaplin downstairs neighbor from Turkey explains most Turkish men traditionally wear mustaches he read mustaches masculinize and empower men especially men in authoritative positions he thinks back to the 1960’s when many hippie males grew mustaches then in the 70’s gay men fashioned mustaches then in the 80’s cops adopted mustaches he wonders why a swatch of hair beneath nose is so provoking examines his visage in mirror discerns the mustache confers a Pepé le Pew quality or European accent to his appearance he remembers when he was young hippie with many amorous episodes how his mustache preserved the scent of a woman but there are no women in his life for many years do post-menopausal women possess scent? he feels indecisive whether to retain it or be rid of it

2

she observes her figure in mirror thinks to herself maybe her ******* are not changing perhaps it’s all in her head she inspects the little lines forming near her eyelids studies her features for signs of aging hardly any silver strands in long brown hair she examines neck ******* arms elbows fingers tummy hips pelvic region thighs knees shins calves ankles feet detects subtle changes thinks to herself my ******* are possibly slightly changing turned 40 in March married briefly in late teens no children a 15 year old dog beginning to suffer veterinarian promises to warn her when the time comes she wonders why it is so difficult finding fitting mate men sleep with her several times then move on maybe she is not such a great lover perhaps she would be better if one of them stuck around perhaps she is a lesbian the whole ide
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Victor D López Dec 2018
Victor D. López (October 11, 2018)

You were born five years before the beginning of the Spanish civil war and
Lived in a modest two-story home in the lower street of Fontan, facing the ocean that
Gifted you its wealth and beauty but also robbed you of your beloved and noblest eldest
Brother, Juan, who was killed while working as a fisherman out to sea at the tender age of 19.

You were a little girl much prone to crying. The neighbors would make you cry just by saying,
"Chora, neniña, chora" [Cry little girl, cry] which instantly produced inconsolable wailing.
At the age of seven or eight you were blinded by an eye Infection. The village doctor
Saved your eyesight, but not before you missed a full year of school.

You never recovered from that lost time. Your impatience and the shame of feeling left behind prevented
You from making up for lost time. Your wounded pride, the shame of not knowing what your friends knew,
Your restlessness and your inability to hold your tongue when you were corrected by your teacher created
A perfect storm that inevitably tossed your diminutive boat towards the rocks.

When still a girl, you saw Franco with his escort leave his yacht in Fontan. With the innocence of a girl
Who would never learn to hold her tongue, you asked a neighbor who was also present, "Who is that Man?"
"The Generalissimo Francisco Franco," she answered and whispered “Say ‘Viva Franco’ when he Passes by.”
With the innocence of a little girl and the arrogance of an incorrigible old soul you screamed, pointing:

"That's the Generalissimo?" followed up loud laughter, "He looks like Tom Thumb!"
A member of his protective detail approached you, raising his machine gun with the apparent intention of
Hitting you with the stock. "Leave her alone!" Franco ordered. "She is just a child — the fault is not hers."
You told that story many times in my presence, always with a smile or laughing out loud.

I don't believe you ever appreciated the possible import of that "feat" of contempt for
Authority. Could that act of derision have played some small part in their later
Coming for your father and taking him prisoner, torturing him for months and eventually
Condemning him to be executed by firing squad in the Plaza de Maria Pita?

He escaped his fate with the help of a fascist officer who freed him as I’ve noted earlier.
Such was his reputation, the power of his ideas and the esteem even of friends who did not share his views.
Such was your innocence or your psychic blind spot that you never realized your possible contribution to
His destruction. Thank God you never connected the possible impact of your words on his downfall.

You adored your dad throughout your life with a passion of which he was most deserving.
He died shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. A mother with ten mouths to feed
Needed help. You stepped up in response to her silent, urgent need. At the age of
Eleven you left school for the last time and began working full time.

Children could not legally work in Franco’s Spain. Nevertheless, a cousin who owned a cannery
Took pity on your situation and allowed you to work full-time in his fish cannery factory in Sada.
You earned the same salary as the adult, predominantly women workers and worked better
Than most of them with a dexterity and rapidity that served you well your entire life.

In your free time before work you carried water from the communal fountain to neighbors for a few cents.
You also made trips carrying water on your head for home and with a pail in each hand. This continued after
You began work in Cheche’s cannery. You rose long before sunrise to get the water for
Home and for the local fishermen before they left on their daily fishing trips for their personal water pails.

All of the money you earned went to your mom with great pride that a girl could provide more than the salary of a
Grown woman--at the mere cost of her childhood and education. You also washed clothes for some
Neighbors for a few cents more, with diapers for newborns always free just for the pleasure of being
Allowed to see, hold spend some time with the babies you so dearly loved you whole life through.
When you were old enough to go to the Sunday cinema and dances, you continued the
Same routine and added washing and ironed the Sunday clothes for the young fishermen
Who wanted to look their best for the weekly dances. The money from that third job was your own
To pay for weekly hairdos, the cinema and dance hall entry fee. The rest still went to your mom.

At 16 you wanted to go to emigrate to Buenos Aires to live with an aunt.
Your mom agreed to let you--provided you took your younger sister, Remedios, with you.
You reluctantly agreed. You found you also could not legally work in Buenos Aires as a minor.
So you convincingly lied about your age and got a job as a nurse’s aide at a clinic soon after your arrival.

You washed bedpans, made beds, scrubbed floors and did other similar assigned tasks
To earn enough money to pay the passage for your mom and two youngest brothers,
Sito (José) and Paco (Francisco). Later you got a job as a maid at a hotel in the resort town of
Mar del Plata whose owners loved your passion for taking care of their infant children.

You served as a maid and unpaid babysitter. Between your modest salary and
Tips as a maid you soon earned the rest of the funds needed for your mom’s and brothers’
Passage from Spain. You returned to Buenos Aires and found two rooms you could afford in an
Excellent neighborhood at an old boarding house near the Spanish Consulate in the center of the city.

Afterwards you got a job at a Ponds laboratory as a machine operator of packaging
Machines for Ponds’ beauty products. You made good money and helped to support your
Mom and brothers  while she continued working as hard as she always had in Spain,
No longer selling fish but cleaning a funeral home and washing clothing by hand.

When your brothers were old enough to work, they joined you in supporting your
Mom and getting her to retire from working outside the home.
You lived with your mom in the same home until you married dad years later,
And never lost the bad habit of stubbornly speaking your mind no matter the cost.

Your union tried to force you to register as a Peronista. Once burned twice cautious,
You refused, telling the syndicate you had not escaped one dictator to ally yourself with
Another. They threatened to fire you. When you would not yield, they threatened to
Repatriate you, your mom and brothers back to Spain.

I can’t print your reply here. They finally brought you to the general manager’s office
Demanding he fire you. You demanded a valid reason for their request.
The manager—doubtless at his own peril—refused, saying he had no better worker
Than you and that the union had no cause to demand your dismissal.

After several years of courtship, you and dad married. You had the world well in hand with
Well-paying jobs and strong savings that would allow you to live a very comfortable life.
You seemed incapable of having the children you so longed for. Three years of painful
Treatments allowed you to give me life and we lived three more years in a beautiful apartment.

I have memories from a very tender age and remember that apartment very well. But things changed
When you decided to go into businesses that soon became unsustainable in the runaway inflation and
Economic chaos of the Argentina of the early 1960’s. I remember only too well your extreme sacrifice
And dad’s during that time—A theme for another day, but not for today.

You were the hardest working person I’ve ever known. You were not afraid of any honest
Job no matter how challenging and your restlessness and competitive spirit always made you a
Stellar employee everywhere you worked no matter how hard or challenging the job.
Even at home you could not stand still unless there was someone with whom to chat awhile.

You were a truly great cook thanks in part to learning from the chef of the hotel where you had
Worked in Mar del Plata awhile—a fellow Spaniard of Basque descent who taught you many of his favorite
Dishes—Spanish and Italian specialties. You were always a terribly picky eater. But you
Loved to cook for family and friends—the more the merrier—and for special holidays.

Dad was also a terrific cook, but with a more limited repertoire. I learned to cook
With great joy from both of you at a young age. And, though neither my culinary skills nor
Any aspect of my life can match you or dad, I too am a decent cook and
Love to cook, especially for meals shared with loved ones.

You took great pleasure in introducing my friends to some of your favorite dishes such as
Cazuela de mariscos, paella marinera, caldo Gallego, stews, roasts, and your incomparable
Canelones, ñoquis, orejas, crepes, muñuelos, flan, and the rest of your long culinary repertoire.
In primary and middle school dad picked me up every day for lunch before going to work.

You and he worked the second shift and did not leave for work until around 2:00 p.m.
Many days, dad would bring a carload of classmates with me for lunch.
I remember as if it were yesterday the faces of my Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, German, Irish
And Italian friends when first introduced to octopus, Spanish tortilla, caldo Gallego, and flan.

The same was true during college and law school.  At times our home resembled an
U.N. General Assembly meeting—but always featuring food. You always treated my
Closest friends as if they were your children and a number of them to this day love
You as a second mother though they have not seen you for many years.

You had tremendous passion and affinity for being a mother (a great pity to have just one child).
It made you over-protective. You bought my clothes at an exclusive boutique. I became a
Living doll for someone denied such toys as a young girl. You would not let me out of your sight and
Kept me in a germ-free environment that eventually produced some negative health issues.

My pediatrician told you often “I want to see him with ***** finger nails and scraped knees.”
You dismissed the statement as a joke. You’d take me often to the park and to my
Favorite merry-go-round. But I had not one friend until I was seven or eight and then just one.
I did not have a real circle of friends until I was about 13 years old. Sad.

I was walking and talking up a storm in complete sentences when I was one year old.
You were concerned and took me to my pediatrician who laughed. He showed me a
Keychain and asked, “What is this Danny.” “Those are your car keys” I replied. After a longer
Evaluation he told my mom it was important to encourage and feed my curiosity.

According to you, I was unbearable (some things never change). I asked dad endless questions such as,
“Why is the sun hot? How far are the stars and what are they made of? Why
Can’t I see the reflection of a flashlight pointed at the sky at night? Why don’t airplanes
Have pontoons on top of the wheels so they can land on both water and land? Etc., etc., etc.

He would answer me patiently to the best of his ability and wait for the inevitable follow-ups.
I remember train and bus rides when very young sitting on his lap asking him a thousand Questions.
Unfortunately, when I asked you a question you could not answer, you more often than not made up an answer Rather than simply saying “I don’t know,” or “go ask dad” or even “go to hell you little monster!”

I drove you crazy. Whatever you were doing I wanted to learn to do, whether it was working on the
Sewing machine, knitting, cooking, ironing, or anything else that looked remotely interesting.
I can’t imagine your frustration. Yet you always found only joy in your little boy at all ages.
Such was your enormous love which surrounded me every day of my life and still does.

When you told me a story and I did not like the ending, such as with “Little Red Riding Hood,”
I demanded a better one and would cry interminably if I did not get it. Poor mom. What patience!
Reading or making up a story that little Danny did not approve of could be dangerous.
I remember one day in a movie theater watching the cartoons I loved (and still love).

Donald Duck came out from stage right eating a sandwich. Sitting between you and dad I asked you
For a sandwich. Rather than explaining that the sandwich was not real, that we’d go to dinner after the show
To eat my favorite steak sandwich (as usual), you simply told me that Donald Duck would soon bring me the sandwich. But when the scene changed, Donald Duck came back smacking his lips without the sandwich.

Then all hell broke loose. I wailed at the top of my lungs that Donald Duck had eaten my sandwich.
He had lied to me and not given me the promised sandwich. That was unbearable. There was
No way to console me or make me understand—too late—that Donald Duck was also hungry,
That it was his sandwich, not mine, or that what was on the screen was just a cartoon and not real.

He, Donald Duck, mi favorite Disney character (then and now) hade eaten this little boy’s Sandwich. Such a Betrayal by a loved one was inconceivable and unbearable. You and dad had to drag me out of the theater ranting And crying at the injustice at top volume. The tantrum (extremely rare for me then, less so now) went on for awhile, but all was well again when my beloved Aunt Nieves gave me a ******* with jam and told me Donald had sent it.

So much water under the bridge. Your own memories, like smoke in a soft breeze, have dissipated
Into insubstantial molecules like so many stars in the night sky that paint no coherent picture.
An entire life of vital conversations turned to the whispers of children in a violent tropical storm,
Insubstantial, imperceptible fragments—just a dream that interrupts an eternal nightmare.

That is your life today. Your memory was always prodigious. You knew the name of every person
You ever met, and those of their family members. You could recall entire conversations word for word.
Three years of schooling proved more than sufficient for you to go out into the world, carving your own
Path from the Inhospitable wilderness and learning to read and write at the age of 16.

You would have been a far better lawyer than I and a fiery litigator who would have fought injustice
Wherever you found it and always defended the rights of those who cannot defend themselves,
Especially children who were always your most fervent passion. You sacrificed everything for others,
Always put yourself dead-last, and never asked for anything in return.

You were an excellent dancer and could sing like an angel. Song was your release in times of joy and
In times of pain. You did not drink or smoke or over-indulge in anything. For much of your life your only minor Indulgence was a weekly trip to the beauty parlor—even in Spain where your washing and ironing income
Paid for that. You were never vain in any way, but your self-respect required you to try to look your best.

You loved people and unlike dad who was for the most part shy, you were quite happy in the all-to-infrequent
Role as the life of the party—singing, dressing up as Charlie Chaplin or a newborn for New Year’s Eve parties with Family and close friends. A natural story-teller until dementia robbed you of the ability to articulate your thoughts,
You’d entertain anyone who would listen with anecdotes, stories, jokes and lively conversation.

In short: you were an exceptional person with a large spirit, a mischievous streak, and an enormous heart.
I know I am not objective about you, but any of your surviving friends and family members who knew you
Well will attest to this and more in a nanosecond. You had an incredibly positive, indomitable attitude
That led you to rush in where angels fear to treat not out of foolishness but out of supreme confidence.

Life handed you cartloads of lemons—enough to pickle the most ardent optimist. And you made not just
Lemonade but lemon merengue pie, lemon sorbet, lemon drops, then ground up the rind for sweetest
Rice pudding, flan, fried dough and a dozen other delicacies. And when all the lemons were gone, you sowed the Seeds from which extraordinarily beautiful lemon trees grew with fruit sweeter than grapes, plums, or cherries.

I’ve always said with great pride that you were a far better writer than I. How many excellent novels,
Plays, and poems could you have written with half of my education and three times my workload?
There is no justice in this world. Why does God give bread to those without teeth? Your
Prodigious memory no longer allows you to recognize me. I was the last person you forgot.

But even now when you cannot have a conversation in any language, Sometimes your eyes sparkle, and
You call me “neniño” (my little boy in Galician) and I know that for an instant you are no longer alone.
But too son the light fades and the darkness returns. I can only see you a few hours one day a week.
My life circumstances do not leave me another option. The visits are bitter sweet but I’m grateful for them.

Someday I won’t even have that opportunity to spend a few hours with you. You’ll have no
Monument to mark your passing save in my memory so long as reason remains. An entire
Life of incalculable sacrifice will leave behind only the poorest living legacy of love
In your son who lacks appropriate words to adequately honor your memory, and always will.


*          *          *

The day has come, too son. October 11, 2018. The call came at 3:30 am.
An hour or two after I had fallen asleep. They tried CPR in vain. There will be no more
Opportunities to say, “I Love you,” to caress your hands and face, to softly sing in your ear,
To put cream on your hands, or to hope that this week you might remember me.

No more time to tell you the accomplishments of loved ones, who I saw, what they told me,
Who asked about you this week, or to pray with you, or to ask if you would give me a kiss by putting my
Cheek close to your lips, to feel joy when you graced me with many little kisses in response,
Or tell you “Maybe next time” when as more often than not the case for months you did not respond.

In saying good bye I’d give you the kiss and hug Alice always sent you,
Followed by three more kisses on the forehead from dad (he always gave you three) and one from me.
I’d leave the TV on to a channel with people and no sound and when possible
Wait for you to close your eyes before leaving.

Time has run out. No further extensions are possible. My prayers change from asking God to protect
You and by His Grace allow you to heal a little bit each day to praying that God protect your
Soul and dad’s and that He allow you to rest in peace in His kingdom. I miss you and Dad very much
And will do so as long as God grants me the gift of reason. I never knew what it is to be alone. I do now.

Four years seeing your blinding light reduced to a weak flickering candle in total darkness.
Four years fearing that you might be aware of your situation.
Four years praying that you would not feel pain, sadness or loneliness.
Four years learning to say goodbye. The rest of my life now waiting in the hope of seeing you again.

I love you mom, with all my heart, always and forever.
Written originally in Spanish and translated into English with minor additions on my mom's passing (October 2018). You can hear all six of my Unsung Heroes poems read by me in my podcasts at https://open.spotify.com/show/1zgnkuAIVJaQ0Gb6pOfQOH. (plus much more of my fiction, non-fiction and poetry in English and Spanish)
Diverseman2020 Jun 2010
Most of the southern portion
Of Argentina
I stand alone
Waiting
In Buenos Aires
For the elevation of my love
Entirely free of her stones
A statue shapely face
With granite and crystalline rock
Windy plateaus
Breezing along the Rio Colorado
Memories remain deep
While my heart ponders
I've so much blood in war
To a woman
Lady Eva
Is her name
Rings out in whispers
In my ear so ghostly
Our youth was so boldly
But beautiful
Her departure
Deposit streams of  tears
That aches many nights
I screamed out in agony
And found myself in shame
Now, I'm left alone and lost
To a time
Of past history
How can an unsuccessful love
Prison a desire
That is worsen
Than a sharpen sword
A buried faith
I cannot bring back
Victor D López Feb 2019
Heroes Desconocidos: Parte V: Felipe 1931 - 2016  
© 2016, 2019 Victor D. López

Naciste cinco años antes del comienzo de la Guerra Civil Española que vería a tu padre exiliado.
El lenguaje llegó más tarde a ti que a tu hermano pequeño Manuel, y tartamudeaste por un
Tiempo, a diferencia de aquellos que hablan incesantemente sin nada que decir. Tu madre
Confundió la timidez con la falta de lucidez un trágico error que te marcó por vida.

Cuando tu hermano Manuel murió a los tres años de la meningitis, oíste a tu madre exclamar:
"Dios me llevó el listo y me dejó el tonto." Tenías apenas cinco años. Nunca olvidaste esas
Palabras. ¿Como podrías hacerlo? Sin embargo, amaste a tu madre con todo tu corazón.
Pero también te retiraste más en ti mismo, la soledad tu compañera y mejor amiga.

De hecho, eras un niño excepcional. La tartamudez se alejó después de los cinco años para no
Volver jamás, y cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria, tu maestra llamó a tu madre para una
Rara conferencia y le dijo que la tuya era una mente dotada, y que deberías ingresar a la
Universidad para estudiar ciencia, matemáticas o ingeniería.

Ella escribió a tu padre exiliado en Argentina para decirle la buena noticia, que tus profesores
Creían que fácilmente ganarías la entrada a la (entonces y ahora) altamente selectiva universidad Pública donde los asientos eran pocos, y muy difíciles de alcanzar basado en exámenes Competitivos ¿La respuesta de tu padre? Comprale un par de bueyes para arar las tierras.

Esa respuesta de un hombre muy respetado, un pez grande en un pequeño estanque en su nativo Olearos en ese tiempo está más allá de la comprensión. Había optado por preservar su interés
Propio en que continuaras su negocio familiar y trabajara sus tierras en su ausencia. Esa cicatriz También fue añadida a aquellas que nunca sanarían en tu enorme y poro corazón.

Sin la ayuda para los gastos de vida universitarios (todo lo que habrías requerido), quedaste
Decepcionado y dolido, pero no enfadado; Simplemente encontrarías otra opción. Tomaste los Exámenes competitivos para las dos escuelas de entrenamiento militar que proporcionarían una Educación vocacional excelente y un pequeño sueldo a cambio del servicio militar.

De los cientos de aspirantes a los pocos puestos premiados en cada una de las dos instituciones,
Marcaste primero para el más competitiva de las dos (El Parque) y decimotercero para la Segundo, La Fábrica de Armas. Escogiste la inferior para dejarle el puesto a un compañero de
Clase que había quedado eliminado por pocos puntos. Ese eras tú, siempre y para siempre.

En la escuela militar, finalmente estuviste en tu elemento. Te convertiría en una mecánico /
Maquinista de clase mundial, una profesión que te brindaría trabajo bien pagado en cualquier
Parte de la tierra de por vida. Fuiste verdaderamente un genio mecánico quien años más tarde
Añadiría electrónica, mecánica de automóviles y soldadura especializada a tus capacidades.

Dado un taller de máquinas bien montado, podrías con ingeniería inversa duplicar cada maquina
Y montar uno idéntico sin referencia a planes ni instrucciones. Te convertiste en un mecánico
Maestro dotado, y trabajaste en posiciones de línea y de supervisión en un puñado de empresas
En Argentina y en los Estados Unidos, incluyendo a Westinghouse, Warner-Lambert y Pepsi Co.

Te encantó aprender, especialmente en tus campos (electrónica, mecánica, soldadura), buscando
La perfección en todo lo que hiciste. Cada tarea difícil en el trabajo se te dio a ti toda tu vida.
No dormías por la noche cuando un problema necesitaba solución. Hacías cálculos,
Dibujos, planes y trabajabas incluso literalmente en tus sueños con pasión singular.

Estabas en tu elemento enfrentando los rigores académicos y físicos de la escuela militar,
Pero la vida era difícil para ti en la época de Franco cuando algunos instructores
Te llamaban "Roxo" - "rojo" en gallego - que se refería a la política de tu padre en
Apoyo a la República fallida. Finalmente, el abuso fue demasiado para soportar.


Una vez mientras estabas de pie en la atención en un pasillo con los otros cadetes esperando
Dar lista, fuiste repetidamente empujado en la espalda subrepticiamente. Moverte provocaría
Deméritos, y deméritos podrían causar la pérdida de puntos en tu grado final y arresto por
Los fines de semana sucesivos. Lo aguantaste un rato hasta perder la paciencia.

Volteaste hacia el cadete detrás tuyo y en un movimiento fluido lo cogiste por la chaqueta y con
Una mano lo colgaste en un gancho por encima de una ventana donde estaban Parados. Se
Arremolinó, hasta que fue rescatado por dos instructores militares furiosos.
Tuviste detención de Fin de semana durante meses, y una reducción del 10% en el grado final.

Un destino similar le ocurrió un compañero de trabajo unos años más tarde en Buenos Aires que
Te llamó hijo de puta. Lo levantaste en una mano por la garganta y lo mantuviste allí hasta que
Tus compañeros de trabajo intervinieron, rescatándolo al por la fuerza. La lección fue aprendida
Por todos en términos inconfundibles: Dejar a la mamá de Felipe en paz.

Eras increíblemente fuerte, especialmente en tu juventud, sin duda en parte debido a un trabajo
Agrícola riguroso, tu entrenamiento militar y participación en deportes competitivos. A los quince
Años, una vez te doblaste para recoger algo en vista de un carnero, presentando al animal un
Objetivo irresistible. Te cabeceo encima de un pajar. También aprendió rápidamente su lección.

Te sacudiste el polvo, y corriste hacia el pobre carnero, agarrándolo por los cuernos, girándolo
Alrededor varias vueltas, y lanzándolo encima del mismo pajar. El animal no resultó herido, pero Aprendió a mantener su distancia a partir de ese día. En general, fuiste muy lentos en enfadar
Ausente cabeceos, empujones repetidos o referencias irrespetuosas a tu madre.

Rara vez te vi enfadado; y era mamá, no tú, la disciplinaria, con zapatilla en la mano. Recibí
Muy pocas bofetadas tuyas. Mamá me golpeaba con una zapatilla a menudo cuando yo era
Pequeño, sobre todo porque podía ser un verdadero dolor de cabeza, queriendo Saber / intentar / Hacerlo todo, completamente ajeno al significado de la palabra "no" o de mis limitaciones.

Mamá a veces insistía en que me dieras una buena paliza. En una de esas ocasiones por una Transgresión olvidada cuando yo tenía nueve años, me llevaste a tu habitación, quitaste el
Cinturón, te sentaste a mi lado y te pegaste varias veces a tu propio brazo y mano susurrándome
"Llora", lo cual hice fácilmente. "No se lo digas a mamá." No lo hice. Sin duda lo sabía.

La perspectiva de servir en un ejército que te consideraba un traidor por la sangre se te hizo
Difícil de soportar, y en el tercer año de escuela, un año antes de la graduación, te fuiste a unirte
A tu padre exiliado en Argentina, a comenzar una nueva vida. Dejaste atrás a tu amada madre y a
Dos hermanas para comenzar de nuevo en una nueva tierra. Tu querido perro murió de pena.

Llegaste a Buenos Aires para ver a un padre que no recordabas a los 17 años. Eras demasiado
Joven para trabajar legalmente, pero parecías más viejo que tus años (un rasgo compartido).
Mentiste acerca de tu edad e inmediatamente encontraste trabajo como maquinista / mecánico de
Primer grado. Eso fue inaudito y te trajo algunos celos y quejas en el taller sindical.

El sindicato se quejó con el gerente general sobre tu sueldo y rango. Él respondió, "Daré el
Mismo rango y salario a cualquier persona en la compañía que pueda hacer lo que Felipe hace."
Sin duda, los celos y los gruñidos continuaron durante un tiempo. Pero no había compradores.
Y pronto ganaste el grupo, convirtiéndote en su mascota protegida como "hermano pequeño".

Tu padre partió hacia España dentro de un año de tu llegada cuando Franco emitió un perdón
General a todos los disidentes que no habían derramado sangre. Quería que volvieras a
Reanudar el negocio familiar asumido por tu madre en su ausencia con tu ayuda. Pero te negaste a Renunciar tu alto salario, el respeto y la independencia que se te negaban en su casa.

Tendrías escasamente 18 años, viviendo en una habitación que habías compartido con tu padre al
Lado de una escuela. Pero también habías encontrado una nueva querida familia en tu tío José,
Uno de los hermanos de tu padre, y su familia. su hija, Nieves con su esposo, Emilio, y
Sus hijos, Susana, Oscar (Rubén Gordé) y Osvaldo, se convirtieron en tu nueva familia nuclear.

Te casaste con mamá en 1955 y tuviste dos negocios fallidos en el rápido desvanecimiento en la
Argentina a finales de los años 1950 y comienzos de los años 1960. El primero fue un taller
Con una pequeña fortuna de contratos de gobierno no pagados. El segundo, una tienda de
Comestibles, también falló debido a la hiperinflación y el crédito extendió a clientes necesitados.

A lo largo de todo esto, seguiste ganando un salario excepcionalmente bueno. Pero a mediados
De los años 60, casi todo fue a pagar a los acreedores de la tienda de comestibles fallada.
Tuvimos años muy difíciles. Algún día escribiré sobre eso. Mamá trabajo de sirvienta, incluso
Para amigos ricos. Tu salías de casa a las 4:00 a.m. volviendo de noche para pagar las facturas.

El único lujo que tú y mamá retuvieron fue mi colegio católico. No había otra extravagancia. No
Pagar las facturas nunca fue una opción para ustedes. Nunca entró en sus mentes. No era una
Cuestión de ley u orgullo, sino una cuestión de honor. Pasamos por lo menos tres años muy
Dolorosos con tu y mamá trabajando muy duro, ganando bien pero éramos realmente pobres.

Tú y mamá se cuidaron mucho de esconder esto de mí y sufrieron grandes privaciones para
Aislarme lo mejor que pudieron de las consecuencias de una economía destrozada y su efecto a
Sus ahorros de vida y a nuestra cómoda vida. Llegamos a Estados Unidos a finales de los años 60 Después de esperar más de tres años por visas, a una nueva tierra de esperanza.

Tu hermana y cuñado, Marisa y Manuel, hicieron sus propios sacrificios para traernos aquí.
Traíamos unos $ 1, 000 del pago inicial por nuestra diminuta casa, y las joyas empeñadas de Mamá.
(La hiperinflación y los gastos comieron los pagos restantes). Otras posesiones preciadas
Fueron dejadas en un baúl hasta que pudieran reclamarlas. Nunca lo hicieron.

Incluso los billetes de avión fueron pagados por Marisa y Manuel. Insististe al llegar en términos
Escritos para el reembolso con intereses. Fuiste contratado en tu primera entrevista como un
Mecánico de primer grado a pesar de no hablar una palabra de inglés. Dos meses más tarde, la
Deuda fue saldada, mamá también trabajaba, y nos mudamos a nuestro primer apartamento.

Trabajaste largas horas, incluyendo sábados y horas extras diarias. La salud en declive te obligó
A retirarte a los 63 años y poco después, tú y mamá se mudaron de Queens al Condado de Orange. Compraron una casa a dos horas de nuestra residencia permanente en el Condado de Otsego, y, en la Próxima década, fueron felices, viajando con amigos y visitándonos a menudo.

Entonces las cosas empezaron a cambiar. Problemas cardíacos (dos marcapasos), cáncer de
Colon, Melanoma, enfermedad de hígado y renal causada por sus medicamentos, presión arterial
Alta, la gota, Cirugía de la vejiga biliar, diabetes.... Y aún seguiste hacia adelante, como el
Conejito “Energizer”, remendado, golpeado, magullado pero imparable e imperturbable.

Luego mamá comenzó a mostrar señas de pérdida de memoria junto con sus otros problemas de
Salud. Ella oculto bien sus propias dolencias, y nos dimos cuenta mucho más tarde que había un Problema grave. Hace dos años, su demencia empeoraba pero seguía funcionando hasta que
Complicaciones de cirugía de la vesícula biliar requirieron cuatro cirugías en tres meses.

Ella nunca se recuperó y tuvo que ser colocada en un asilo de ancianos con cuido intensivo.
Varios, de hecho, ya que Rechazó la comida y tú y yo nos negamos a simplemente dejarla ir, lo que Pudiera haber sido más noble. Pero "mientras hay vida, hay esperanza" como dicen los españoles.
No hay nada más allá del poder de Dios. Los milagros suceden.

Durante dos años tu viviste solo, rechazando ayuda externa, engendrando numerosos argumentos Acerca de tener a alguien unos días a la semana para ayudar a limpiar, cocinar, y hacer las tareas.
Tu no eras nada sino terco (otro rasgo compartido). El último argumento sobre el tema hace unas
Dos semanas terminó en tu llanto. No aceptarías ayuda externa hasta que mamá regresara a casa.

Sufriste un gran dolor debido a los discos abultados en la columna vertebral y caminabas con uno
De esos asientos ambulatorios con manillares que mamá y yo te elegimos hace años. Te
Sentabas cuando el dolor era demasiado, y luego seguías adelante con pocas quejas. Hace diez
Días, finalmente acordaste que necesitabas ir al hospital para drenar el líquido abdominal.
Tu hígado y riñones enfermos lo producían y se te hinchó el abdomen y las piernas hasta el punto
Que ponerte los zapatos o la ropa era muy difícil, como lo era la respiración. Me llamaste de una
Tienda local llorando que no podías encontrar pantalones que te cupieran. Hablamos, un rato y te
Calmé, como siempre, no permitiendo que te ahogaras en la lástima propia.

Fuiste a casa y encontraste unos pantalones nuevos extensibles que Alice y yo te habíamos
Comprado y quedaste feliz. Ya tenías dos cambios de ropa que aún te cabían para llevar al
Hospital. Listo, ya todo estaba bien. El procedimiento no era peligroso y lo había ya pasado
Varias veces.  Sería necesario un par de días en el hospital y te vería de nuevo el fin de semana.

No pude estar contigo el lunes 22 de febrero cuando tuviste que ir al hospital, como casi siempre
Lo había hecho, por el trabajo. Se suponía que debías ser admitido el viernes anterior, para yo Acompañarte, pero los médicos también tienen días libres y cambiaron la cita. No pude faltar al
Trabajo. Pero no estabas preocupado; Esto era sólo rutina. Estarías bien. Te vería en unos días.

Iríamos a ver a mamá el viernes, cuando estarías mucho más ligero y te sentirías mucho mejor.
Tal vez podríamos ir a comprate más ropa si la hinchazón no disminuía lo suficiente. Condujiste
Al médico y luego te transportaron por ambulancia al hospital. Yo estaba preocupado, pero no Demasiado. Me llamaste sobre las cinco de la tarde para decirme que estabas bien, descansando.

“No te preocupes. Estoy seguro aquí y bien cuidado." Hablamos un poco sobre lo usual, y te
Asegure que te vería el viernes o el sábado. Estabas cansado y querías dormir. Te pedí que me Llamaras si despertabas más tarde esa noche o te hablaría yo al día siguiente. Alrededor de
Las 10:00 p.m. recibí una llamada de tu celular y respondí de la manera habitual optimista.

“Hola, Papi.” En el otro lado había una enfermera que me decía que mi padre había caído.
Le aseguré que estaba equivocada, ya que mi padre estaba allí para drenar el líquido abdominal.
"No entiendes. Se cayó de su cama y se golpeó la cabeza en una mesita de noche o algo,
Y su corazón se ha detenido. Estamos trabajando en él durante 20 minutos y no se ve bien ".

"¿Puedes llegar aquí?" No pude. Había bebido dos o tres vasos de vino poco antes de la llamada
Con la cena. No pude conducir las tres horas a Middletown. Lloré. Oré. Quince minutos después
Recibí la llamada de que te habías ido. Perdido en el dolor, sin saber qué hacer, llamé a mi
Esposa. Poco después vino una llamada del forense. Se requirió una autopsia. No pudría verte.

Cuatro días después tu cuerpo fue finalmente entregado al director de funeraria que había
Seleccionado por su experiencia con el proceso de entierro en España. Te vi por última vez para Identificar tu cuerpo. Besé mis dedos y toqué tu frente mutilada. Ni siquiera podrías tener la
Dignidad de un ataúd abierto. Querías cremación. Tu cuerpo lo espera mientras escribo esto.

Estabas solo, incluso en la muerte. Solo. En el hospital, mientras desconocidos trabajaron en ti. En la Oficina del médico forense mientras esperabas la autopsia. En la mesa de la autopsia
Mientras pinchaban, empujaban, y cortaban tu cuerpo buscando indicios irrelevantes que no
Cambiarían nada ni beneficiarían a nadie, y menos que a nadie a ti.

Tendremos un servicio conmemorativo el próximo viernes con tus cenizas y una misa el sábado.
Nunca más te veré en esta vida. Alice y yo te llevaremos a casa, a tu pueblo natal, al
Cementerio de Olearos, La Coruña, España este verano. Allí esperarás el amor de tu vida.
Quién se unirá contigo en la plenitud del tiempo. Ella no comprendió mis lágrimas ni tu muerte.

Hay una bendición en la demencia. Ella pregunta por su madre, y dice que está preocupada
Porque no ha venido a visitarla en algún tiempo. “Ella viene”, me asegura siempre que la veo.
Tú la visitabas todos los días, excepto cuando la salud lo impedía. Pasaste este 10 de febrero aparte,
El aniversario 61 de bodas, demasiado enfermo para visitarla. Tampoco yo pude ir. Primera vez.

Espero que no te hayas dado cuenta de que estabais aparte el 10, pero dudo que sea el caso.
No te lo mencioné, esperando que lo hubieras olvidado, y tú tampoco. Eras mi conexión con Mamá.
No puede marcar o contestar un teléfono. Tu le ponías el teléfono celular al oído cuando
Yo no estaba en clase o en reuniones y podía hablar con ella. Ella siempre me reconoció.
Estoy a tres horas de ella. Los visitaba una o dos veces al mes. Ahora incluso esa línea de
Vida está cortada. Mamá está completamente sola, asustada, confundida, y no puedo en el corto
Plazo al menos hacer mucho sobre eso. No habías de morir primero. Fue mi mayor temor, y el
Tuyo, pero como con tantas cosas que no podemos cambiar, lo puse en el fondo de mi mente.

Me mantuvo en pie muchas noches, pero, como tú, todavía creía --y creo-- en milagros.
Yo te hablaba todas las noches, a menudo durante una hora o más, en el camino a casa del trabajo Tarde por la noche durante mi hora de viaje, o desde casa mientras cocinaba mi cena.
La mayoría del tiempo te dejaba hablar, tratando de darte apoyo y aliento.

Estabas solo, triste, atrapado en un ciclo sin fin de dolor emocional y físico. Últimamente eras Especialmente reticente a colgar el teléfono. Cuando mamá estaba en casa y todavía estaba
Relativamente bien, yo llamaba todos los días también, pero por lo general hablaba contigo sólo
Unos minutos y le dabas el teléfono a mamá, con quien conversaba por mucho más tiempo.

Durante meses tuviste dificultades para colgar el teléfono. Sabía que no querías volver al sofá,
Para ver un programa de televisión sin sentido, o para pagar más facturas. Me decías adiós, o
"Ya basta para hoy", y comenzar inmediatamente un nuevo hilo, repitiendo el ciclo, a veces cinco o seis Veces. Me dijiste una vez llorando recientemente, "Cuélgame o seguiré hablando".

Te quería, papá, con todo mi corazón. Discutimos, y yo a menudo te gritaba con frustración,
Sabiendo que nunca lo tomarías a pecho y que por lo general solo me ignorarías y harías lo que querías. Sabía lo desesperadamente que me necesitabas, y traté de ser tan paciente como pude.
Pero había días en los que estaba demasiado cansado, frustrado, y lleno de otros problemas.

Había días en los que me sentía frustrado cuando te quedabas en el teléfono durante una hora
Cuando necesitaba llamar a Alice, comer mi cena fría o incluso mirar un programa favorito.
Muy rara vez te corté una conversación por lo larga que fuese, pero si estuve frustrado a veces,
Incluso sabiendo bien cuánto me necesitabas y yo a ti, y cuán poco me pediste.

¿Cómo me gustaría oír tu voz de nuevo, incluso si fuera quejándote de las mismas cosas, o
Para contarme en detalle más minucioso algún aspecto sin importancia de tu día. Pensé que te haría
Tener al menos un poco más de tiempo. ¿Un año? ¿Dos? Sólo Dios sabía. Habría tiempo. Tenía
Mucho más que compartir contigo, mucho más de aprender cuando la vida se relajara un poco.

Tú me enseñaste a pescar (no tomó) y a cazar (que tomó aún menos) y mucho de lo que sé sobre
La mecánica y la electrónica. Trabajamos en nuestros coches juntos durante años--cambios de
Frenos, silenciadores, “tuneas” en los días en que los puntos, condensadores y luces de
Cronometraje tenían significado. Reconstruimos carburadores, ventanas eléctricas, y chapistería.

Éramos amigos, bunos amigos. Fuimos los domingos en coche a restaurantes favoritos o a
Comprar herramientas cuando yo era soltero y vivía en casa. Me enseñaste todo lo que necesito
Saber en la vida sobre todas las cosas que importan. El resto es papel sin sentido y vestidor.
Conocí tus pocas faltas y tus colosales virtudes y te conocí ser el mejor hombre de los dos.

Ni punto de comparación. Nunca podría hacer lo que hiciste. Nunca podría sobresalir en mis
Campos como lo hiciste en los tuyos. Eras hecho y derecho en todos los sentidos, visto desde
Todos los ángulos, a lo largo de tu vida. No te traté siempre así, pero te amé siempre
Profundamente, como lo sabe cualquiera que nos conoce. Te lo he dicho a menudo, sin vergüenza.

El mundo se ha enriquecido con tu viaje sobre él. No dejas atrás gran riqueza, ni obras que te Sobrevivan. Nunca tuviste tus quince minutos al sol. Pero importaste. Dios conoce tu virtud, tu
Integridad absoluta y la pureza de tu corazón. Nunca conoceré a un hombre mejor. Te amaré, te Extrañaré y te llevaré en mi corazón todos los días de mi vida. Que Dios te bendiga, papá.

  Si desean oír mi lectura de la versión original de este poema en inglés, pueden hacerlo aquí:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRUiSZr1_rWDEObcWJELP7w
This is a translation from the English original I wrote immediately after my dad's passing in February of 2016.  Even in the hardest of times suffering from his own very serious medical conditions, my dad was full of love and easy laughter. I will never see his equal, or my mom's. Tears still blur my eyes as they do now just thinking of them with great love and an irreparable sense of loss.
I cry for you Argentina
hectic planet’s southern corner
land of passion, crazy arena
aforetime our bonds were stronger.

No longer yours, you never mine
our lives belonged together once
I used to taste your scarlet wine,
your gorgeous girls, your charming dance.

The friends from ages, forgotten stories
so much privation, my heart is sore
my aging parents, the elder brothers
your call is clear I shall wait no more.

Exultant hugs, reunion is great
my parent’s sanctuary regaining life
but there is an end, a settled date
cruel farewell that sticks its knife.

I’ve seen those humid agates before
I've heard how silence can drown the wail
hair-raising feeling on every pore
they'll stand upright, I will be frail.

Oh, childhood playground! my old-time shelter
long time impeded of children laughing
no words no tears, this way is better
my love, my kids, my home are waiting.
Leaving your childhood place leaves a mix of sweet and sour feelings. Visiting back your birth country is an emotional experience.
Victor D López Feb 2019
Naciste siete años antes del comienzo de la guerra civil española,
Y viviste en una casita de dos pisos en la Calle de Abajo de Fontan,
Frente al mar que les regalo su riqueza y belleza,
Y les robo a tu hermano mayor, y el más noble, Juan, a los 19 años.

De chiquita eras muy llorona. Los vecinos te hacían rabiar con solo decirte,
“Chora, Litiña, chora” lo cual producía un largo llanto al instante.
A los siete u ocho años quedaste ciega por una infección en los ojos. Te salvó la vista
El medico del pueblo, pero no antes de pasar más de un año sin poder ir a la escuela.

Nunca recuperaste ese tiempo perdido. Tu impaciencia y la vergüenza de sentirte atrasada, Impidieron tus estudios. Tu profundo amor propio y la vergüenza de no saber lo que sabían tus
Amigas de tu edad, tu inquietud y tu inhabilidad de aguantar la lengua cuando te corregían,
Crearon una perfecta tormenta que desvió tu diminutiva nave hacia las rocas.

Cuando aún una niña, viste a Franco con su escolta salir de su yate en Fontan.
Con la inocencia de una niña que nunca supo aguantar la lengua, preguntaste a
Una vecina que también estaba presente “Quien es ese señor?”
“El Generalísimo Francisco Franco” te contestó en voz baja. Dile “Viva Franco” cuando pase.

Con la inocencia de una niña y con la arrogancia de una viejita incorregible gritaste señalándolo
“Ese es el Generalísimo?” Y con una carcajada seguiste en voz alta “Parece Pulgarcito!”
Un miembro de su escolta se acercó alzando su ametralladora con la aparente Intención de Golpearte con la culata. “Dejadla!” Exclamo Franco. “Es una niña—la culpa no es suya.”

Contaste ese cuento muchas veces en mi presencia, siempre con una sonrisa o riéndote.
Creo que nunca apreciaste el importe de esa “hazaña” de desprecio a la autoridad. Pudiera ser En parte por ese hecho de tu niñez que vinieron eventualmente por tu padre  
Que lo Llevaron preso. Que lo torturaron por muchos meses y condenaron a muerte?

El escapó su condena como ya he contado antes—con la ayuda de un oficial fascista.
Tan fuerte era su reputación y el poder de sus ideas hasta con sus muchos amigos contrarios.
Tal tu inocencia, o tu ceguera psíquica, en no comprender nunca una potencial causa de su Destrucción. A Dios gracias que nunca pudiste apreciar la posible consecuencia de tus palabras.

Tu padre, quien quisiste toda la vida entrañablemente con una pasión de la cual fue muy Merecedor, murió poco después del término de la guerra civil. Una madre con diez
Bocas para alimentar necesitaba ayuda. Tú fuiste una de las que más acudió a ese
Pedido silencioso. A los 11 años dejaste la escuela por última vez y comenzaste a trabajar.

Los niños no podían trabajar en la España de Franco. No obstante, un primo tomó piedad
De la situación y te permitió trabajar en su fábrica de embutidos de pescado en Sada.
Ganabas igual que todas tus compañeras mayores. Y trabajabas mejor que la mayoría de ellas,
Con la rapidez y destreza que te sirvieron bien toda tu vida en todos tus trabajos.

En tu tiempo libre, llevabas agua de la fuente comunal a vecinos por unos céntimos.
De chiquita también llevabas una sella en la cabeza para casa y dos baldes en las manos antes y Después de tu trabajo en la fábrica de Cheche para el agua de muchos pescadores en el puerto
Antes del amanecer esperando la partida a alta mar con tu agua fresca en sus recipientes.

Todo ese dinero era entregado tu madre con el orgullo de una niña que proveía
Más que el sueldo de una mujer grande—solo a cambio de tu niñez y de la escuela.
También lavabas ropa para algunos vecinos. Y siempre gratuitamente los pañales cuando había
Niños recién nacidos solo por el placer de verlos y poder estar con ellos.

Cuando eras un poco más grande, ya de edad de ir al baile y al cine, seguías la misma rutina,
Pero también lavabas y planchabas la ropa de los marineros jóvenes que querían ir muy limpios
Y bien planchados al baile los domingos. Ese era el único dinero que era solo tuyo—para
Pagar la peluquería todas las semanas y el baile y cine. El resto siempre para tu madre.


A los dieciséis años quisiste emigrar a Argentina a la casa de una tía en Buenos Aires.
Tu madre te lo permitió, pero solo si llevabas también a tu hermana menor, Remedios, contigo.
Lo hiciste. En Buenos Aires no podías trabajar tampoco por ser menor. Mentiste en las Aplicaciones y pudiste conseguir trabajo en una clínica como ayudanta de enfermera.

Lavaste bacinillas, cambiaste camas, y limpiaste pisos con otros trabajos similares.
Todo por ganar suficiente dinero para poder reclamar a tu madre y hermanos menores,
Sito (José) y Paco (Francisco). Luego conseguiste un trabajo de mucama en un hotel
En Mar del Plata. Los dueños apreciaron tu pasión por cuidar a sus niños pequeños.

Te mantuvieron como niñera y mucama—sin doble sueldo. Entre tu (pobre) sueldo y
Propinas de mucama, en un tiempo pudiste guardar suficiente dinero para comprar
Los pasajes para tu madre y hermanos. También pudiste volver a Buenos Aires y
Conseguiste alquilar un doble cuarto en una antigua casa cerca del Consulado español.

De aquellas, aun menor de edad, ya trabajabas en el laboratorio Ponds—al cargo de una
Máquina de empacado de productos de belleza. Ganabas buen dinero, y vivieron en el
Centro de Buenos aires en esa casa hasta que te casaste con papa muchos años después.
Aun te perseguía la mala costumbre de decir lo que penabas y de no dar el brazo a torcer.

El sindicato de la Ponds trató de obligarte a registrarte como Peronista.
A gato escaldado hasta el agua fría le hace daño, y reusaste registrarte al partido.
Le dijiste al sindicato que no le habías escapado a un dictador para aliarte a otro.
Te amenazaron con perder el trabajo. Y con repatriarte a ti y a tu madre y hermanos.

Tu respuesta no la puedo escribir aquí. Te llevaron frente al gerente general demandando
Que te despidiera de inmediato. Contestaste que te demostraran razones para hacerlo.
El gerente—indudablemente a propio riesgo—contestó que no había mejor trabajadora
En la fábrica y que no tenía el sindicato razones para pedir que te despidiera.

Después de un noviazgo de varios años, se casaron tú y papa. Tenían el mundo en sus
Manos. Buen trabajo con buenos ahorros que les permitirían vivir muy bien en el futuro.
No podías tener hijos—los cuales siempre anhelaste tener. Tres años de tratamientos
Lograron que me dieras vida. Vivimos por años en un hermoso apartamento en la ciudad.

Tengo uso de razón y recuerdos gratos desde antes de los dos años. Recuerdo muy bien ese Apartamento. Pero las cosas cambiaron cuando decidieron emprender un negocio
Que no fue sostenible en el caos de la Argentina en los años 60. Recuerdo demasiado bien el Sacrificio tuyo y el de papa—es eso un tema para otro día, pero no para hoy.

Fuiste la persona más trabajadora que conocí en mi vida. No le temías a ningún trabajo
Honesto por fuerte que fuese y tu inquietud y espíritu competitivo siempre te hicieron
Una empleada estelar en todos tus trabajos, la mayoría de ellos sumamente esclavos.
Hasta en casa no sabias parar a no ser que tuvieras con quien charlar un rato largo.

Eras una gran cocinera gracias en parte al chef del hotel en cual trabajaste en Argentina
Que era también un compatriota español (vasco) y te enseno a cocinar muchos de sus
Platos españoles e italianos favoritos. Fuiste siempre muy mal comedora. Pero te
Encantaba cocinar para amigos, familia y—cuantos mas mejor—y para las fiestas.

Papá también era buen cocinero aunque con un repertorio mas limitado. Y yo aprendí
De los dos con mucho afán también a cocinar desde joven. Ni en la cocina ni en ninguna
Fase de mi vida me puedo comparar contigo ni con papa, pero también me encanta
Cocinar y en especial para compartir con seres queridos.

Te daba gran placer introducir a mis amigos a tus platos favoritos como la cazuela de mariscos,
Paella, caldo gallego, tus incomparables canelones, ñoquis, orejas, filloas, buñuelos, flan,
Y todo el resto de tu largo repertorio de música culinaria. Papa me iba a buscar al colegio
Cuando en la escuela secundaria (JHS #10) todos los días antes del trabajo.

Los dos trabajaban el segundo turno y no partían hasta después de las 2:00 p.m.
Muchos días traía el coche lleno de mis compañeros. Recuerdo igual que si fuera ayer
Las caras de mis amigos judíos, chinos, japoneses, italianos, ingleses e irlandeses
Cuando primero probaron el pulpo, caldo gallego, la tortilla, las orejas o el flan.

Mediante el bachiller, la universidad y los estudios de derecho fue igual. A veces parecía
Una reunión de Las Naciones Unidas, pero siempre con comida. Siempre trataste a mis
Amigos íntimos como si fueran hijos tuyos también. Y algunos aun hoy día te quieren
Como una segunda madre y sienten tu ausencia aunque no te vieran por muchos años.

Tuviste una pasión por ser madre (una gran pena que solo tuvieras un hijo).
Que te hizo ser demasiado protectora de tu hijo.  Me vestías con ropa exclusiva de
Les Bebes—Fui un muñeco para quien no los tuvo de niña. No me dejabas fuera de tu vista.
El mantenerme en un ambiente libre de gérmenes produjeron algunos problemas de salud.

Mi pediatra te decía “Quiero verlo con las rodillas raspadas y las uñas sucias.”
Tú lo tomabas como un chiste. Me llevabas a menudo a un parque y a la calesita.
Lo recuerdo como si fuera ayer. Pero no recuerdo tener ningún amigo hasta los siete u ocho
Años. Y solo uno entonces. No recuerdo tener una pandilla de amigos hasta los 13 años. Triste.

Cuando comencé a hablar como una cotorra con un año, y a caminar al mismo tiempo,
Me llevaste al médico. El medico pensó que era solo idea tuya. Me mostro unas llaves y me
Pregunto “Sabes lo que es esto, Danielito?” “Si. Son las llaves de tu tutú,” le contesté.
Después de unas pruebas, le recomendaron a mi madre que alimentara mi curiosidad.

Según ella era yo insoportable (algunas cosas nunca cambian). Si le preguntaba a
Papá por que el sol quema, a que distancia esta, que son las estrellas, por qué una
Linterna enfocada al cielo en una noche oscura no se ve, por qué los aviones no tienen
Ruedas debajo de pontones para poder aterrizar y despegar en el agua? Etc., etc., etc.

Me contestaba con paciencia. Recuerdo viajes en tren o autobús sentado en las piernas de mi Padre haciéndole mil preguntas. Desafortunadamente, si le preguntaba algo a mama que No supiera contestar, inventaba cualquier respuesta con tal de hacerme callar en vez de decirme “No se” o “pregúntaselo a papá” o “vete al infierno de una ver por todas y dejame en paz.”

Cuando me contaba algún cuento y no me gustaba como terminaba, “Caperucita Roja” por Ejemplo, mi madre tenía que inventar un fin que me gustara mejor o aguantar un llanto
Interminable. Pobre madre. Inventar lo que a Danielito no le gustaba podía ser peligroso.
Recuerdo un día en el teatro viendo dibujos animados que me encantaban (y aun encantan).

El Pato Donald salió en una escena comiéndose un tremendo sándwich. Le dije a mamá que
Quería un sándwich igual. En vez de contestarme que no era un sándwich de verdad, o que me Llevarían a comer después del teatro (como de costumbre) se le ocurrió decirme que me
Lo iba a traer el Pato Donald al asiento. Cambio la escena y el Pato Donald salió sin el sándwich.


Se acabo el mundo. Empecé a chillar y llorar que el Pato Donald se comió mi sándwich.
Me había mentido y no me trajo el prometido sándwich. Eso era algo insoportable.
No hubo forma de consolarme o hacerme entender—ya tarde—que el Pato Donald también
Tenía hambre, que el sándwich era suyo y no mío, o que lo de la pantalla no era realidad.

Ardió Cristo. Se había comido el sándwich del nene el Pato Donald quien era (y es) mi favorito.
La traición de un ser querido así era inconcebible e insoportable. Me tuvieron que quitar del
Cine a grito pelado. No se me fue la pataleta por largo rato. Pero todo paso cuando mi querida Tía Nieves (una prima) me dio unas galletas marineras con mermelada más tarde en su casa.

Cuánta agua debajo del puente. Tus recuerdos como el humo en una placentera brisa ya se han Esparcido, son moléculas insubstanciales como estrellas en el cielo, que no pintan cuadros Coherentes. Una vida de conversaciones vitales vueltas a susurros de niños en una tormenta Tropical, impermisibles, insustanciales, solo un sueño que interrumpe una pesadilla eterna.

Así es tu vida hoy. Tu memoria fue siempre prodigiosa. Recordabas el nombre de todas las Personas que conociste en toda tu vida—y conversaciones enteras palabra por palabra.
Con solo tres años de escuela, te fuiste por el mundo rompiendo paso y aprendiste a leer y
Escribir ya después de os 16 años en una ciudad adoptiva. Te fue más que suficiente tu estudio.

Siempre dije que eras mucho mejor escritora que yo. Cuantas excelentes novelas u obras de Teatro y poesía hubieras escribido tú con la mitad de mi educación y el triple de trabajo?  
No ay justicia en este mundo. Por qué le da Dios pan a quien no tiene dientes? Tú prodigiosa Memoria no te permite ya que me reconozcas. Fui la última persona que olvidaste.

Pero aun ahora que ya no puedes tener una conversación normal en ningún idioma,
Alguna vez te brillan los ojos y me llamas “neniño” y sé que por un instante no estás ya sola.
Pero pronto se apaga esa luz y vuelve la oscuridad. Solo te puedo ver unas horas un día a la Semana. Las circunstancias de mi vida no me dejan otra mejor opción.

Algún día no tendré ni siquiera la oportunidad de compartir unas horas contigo. No tendrás
Monumento alguno salvo en mis recuerdos mientras me quede uso de razón. Toda una
Vida de incalculable sacrificio de la cual solo dejarás el más pobre rasgo viviente del amor
De tu único hijo quien no tiene palabras para honrarte adecuadamente ni nunca las tendrá.


*          *          *

Ya llegó ese día, demasiado pronto. Octubre 11, 2018. Llegó la llamada a las 03:30 horas,
Una o dos horas después de haber quedado yo dormido. Te trataron de resucitar en vano.
No habría ya mas oportunidades de decirte te quiero, de acariciar tus manos y cara,
De cantarte al oído, de poner crema en tus manos, de anhelar que esta semana me recordaras.

De contarte acontecimientos de seres queridos, a quien vi, que me dijeron, quien pregunto
Por ti, ni de rezar por ti o de pedirte si me dabas un besito poniendo mi mejilla cerca de tus Labios y del placer cuando respondías dándome muchos besitos. Cuando no me respondías,
Lo mas probable estos últimos muchos meses, te decía, “Bueno la próxima vez.”

Siempre al despedirme te daba un besito por Alice y un abrazo que siempre te mandaba,
Y tres besitos en tu frente de parte de papa (siempre te daba tres juntos), y uno mío. Te
Dejaba la tele prendida en un canal sin volumen que mostrara movimiento. Y en lo posible
Esperaba que quedaras con los ojos cerrados antes de marchar.

Se acabó el tiempo. No hay mas prorroga. Mis oraciones cambian de pedir que Dios te proteja
Y que por Su Gracia puedas sanar un poquito día a día a que Dios guarde tu alma y la de papá y
Permita que descansen en paz en Su reino. Te hecho mucho de menos ya, como a papá, y lo
Haré mientras viva y Dios me permita uso de razón. No sabia lo que es estar solo. Ahora si lo se.

Cuatro años viendo tu deslumbrante luz reducirse a una vela temblando en a oscuridad.
Cuatro años temiendo que te dieras cuenta de tu situación.
Cuatro años rogando que no tuvieras dolor, tristeza o soledad.
Cuatro años y sin aprender como decirte adiós. El resto de mi vida esperando verte otra vez.

Te quiero con todo mi corazón siempre y para siempre, mamá. Descansa en Paz.
You can hear all six of my Unsung Heroes poems read by me in my podcasts at https://open.spotify.com/show/1zgnkuAIVJaQ0Gb6pOfQOH. (plus much more of my fiction, non-fiction and poetry in English and Spanish)
Dara Brown Dec 2014
i want to sit in
Buenos Aires
drink coffee
till i am as wired
as the skyline
at midnight

i never sleep anyway

i want to kiss strangers
fake-ly
like they were my friends
i lost somewhere
but recently found

i need new friends

i want to tango
with a white Patagonia
rose
clenched in my teeth
while my clenched *******
rise and fall
to the beat of the waves
in my water bra

i never had lessons anyway

i want Argentina
full of faux marble
dance hall floors,
scuffed shoes, burned beans
and fish markets full of thorny
roses

i need to feel full
Birds have their homes.
This bird made this world,
Its own home.

When other birds struggled
To make friends beyond their homes,
This bird made followers and comrades,
Transformed them
The perseverent leaders of a challenging mission

It put its foot on Argentina and
Set its victorious fight in Cuba.
Availed losses in Congo
Voiced and breathed every millisecond
Struggled recklessly for a mission,
Freedom, peace & prosperity of all its fellow birds
Beyond borders.

The most superior of the superior birds
With an infinite and complex strings of cunningness
Put an end to this bird in Bolivia.

At the end, the bird failed
Fell a prey for other selfish birds.
As a root that fell and
Buried itself in the soil with an infinite power.
To give hope and shelter,
To all those who come under it,
For the near future and coming generations

The bird died!
But its mission ignited the phoenix flames
In its bird comrades.
Got them to fight for
Every drop of Injustice, Imperialism and hatred
That came racing towards them
As an inescapable bullet

Their hearts raised in spirit
When every drop of its thought
Hit them more fierce than
The world’s most powerful atomic bomb.

The bird died.
But its ideals for the mission
Rekindled the fires in their heart.

Being born an ordinary bird,
Fighting for the most demanded & toughest mission,
Its thought and principles
Set new leaders to fight the unattainable mission
Now, looking the most possible
Within an attaining distance

The bird lived its life,
An ordinary and the most challenging one.
But transformed a phoenix,
When it left the world.
And created more of
Daring Phoenix warriors;
Attain a world filled with peace and happiness.
This poem is about Che Guevara. The man who set the mission to fight for a world unexploited with petty self-interests and cunning human-killing business deals. In this poem, the birds are humans. The superior birds are the modern imperialist nations. The unique phoenix bird mentioned is Che Guevara. His mission was a happy, peaceful, prosperous and human life throughout the world.

— The End —