Archive for January, 2022

M + T

January 20, 2022

Acknowledgments

My first acknowledgment is in recognition of the contributions provided over the course of eight years by my brothers and sisters, Alberto José, Andreína Teresa, Bonnie María Teresa, and José Galdino, to whom I am grateful for their safeguarding the memories of the family. I am also grateful for the biographical summary of the Morín family from our cousin Eduardo Morín Brea, the son of our uncle Calixto Eduardo Morín Infante. I also owe to Uncle Calixto Eduardo his guidance at the beginning of my university career in the United States. Like him, I owe to my father José Galdino Morín Infante the incentives which made possible the continuation of that career in there. I also thank our mother for her example of warmth and optimism. I also acknowledge all the cousins and uncles from both the Morín and Tortolero familes. They helped me, with the genealogical research; I am especially grateful to Ala Gaidasz Salamaja de Tortolero, the wife of our mother’s late brother Federico Tortolero Rivero, and to her sister Lina Angelina Gaidasz Salamaja de Pystrak. And finally, I acknowledge the support of my most loyal friend and editor, professor emeritus, Billy Bussell Thompson, Ph.D.

Ricardo Federico Morín Tortolero , Fort Lauderdale, January 20, 2022

Dedicated to my brothers and sisters

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Chapters 1

The Inexorable Passage of Time

“How can one travel through time by the hands of our ancestors? In a way, I come to play the role of guardian of their memories.”

Ricardo F. Morín

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Genetic diversity is innate to the human condition. This is a fact throughout our evolution. The figuration that some animals are more diverse than others is an interpretation as limited as it is subjective. The most appropriate way to see our origins would be as an Andalusian friend described it: “… it’s like looking for relatives from all over the world.” Certainly, I am seeking to frame the stories of my parents through their ancestry, so as to develop their biography, which goes beyond the mere listing of dates and places: To define the possible links between customs and ways of thinking. I cannot say where this narrative will lead me.

A few years ago, I took a DNA test through Ancestry and 23andme. The results showed 40% of the markers to be of Spanish and Portuguese origin. The remaining 60% were non Iberian: from Europe, Africa, and the New World.

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Chapter 2

What Is Consciousness?

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“Technically we live in a century where we are able to change our organic evolution through genetic engineering. We are on the threshold of promoting a rapid development of transhumanism, selecting more intelligent and stronger human beings thanks to the advancement of artificial intelligence, without which we could never conceive of it. In fact we will also be about to create inorganic entities with artificial consciousness. We speak of an uncertain future, which concerns a better understanding of our organic consciousness.”

Yuval N. Harari, Ph.D. historian and philosopher. Extract from a video interview originally presented at the “Freedom Games” conference in Poland, September 2021, entitled “Frans de Waal & Yuval Noah Harari: “Empathy, Ecological Collapse and Humanity’s Future Challenges”. https://youtu.be/g8gStd80vWY My summary of transcript.

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Knowing ourselves implies a need to understand the influences that affect our consciousness: who we are and where we come from. Although we are limited in the short term– in its understanding because we do not have absolute control of our faculties—it is important, more than ever in human history, to know our origins as far as we can. The notion of self-knowledge is an intrinsic and unavoidable need. How else can we reflect on our human character, both on our imperfections and our aspirations, if we do not distinguish between our variability and changing nature?

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Chapter 3

Etymologies and Toponymies

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“Modern scientific etymological study is based on the methods and findings of historical and comparative linguistics, the basic principles of which were established by linguists during the 19th century.”

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2021.

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Understanding the etymology of proper names and their geographical locations derives from comparative linguistics, as a way to sort people into groups–by occupation, place of origin, clan, parentage, adoption, and physical characteristics.

The surname Morín derives from the Old French Moré, nickname of the ‘Moor’ or moret. The diminutive forms mean ‘black’ or ‘dark brown’, or a Muslim from Northwest Africa. The term was used by Christian Europeans to designate the Islamic inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages: The term moro was applied indiscriminately to Arabs, Berbers, and Arabized Iberians. The surname Morín was associated with the moors of Spain. In the 8th century the Arabs entered the Iberian Peninsula and remained there in some fashion until 1492, with the fall of Granada. The surname Morín was found mainly in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and to a lesser extend it is found in Madrid and Salamanca.

The surname Tortolero comes from Lombardy. The term derives from the denomination given to pigeons of the genus Columbina, “dove” or “tortolita”, which comes from the Latin turtur, probably an onomatopoeia. Since its origins in ancient times, the term Tortolero was associated with divinatory mythology for its ability to send messages, among other qualities, and was designated for those who raised turtledoves by trade. A “Tortolero” was also a mystic. In Spain the main seat of the surname is Andalusia, originally from Écija. Tortolero was formed as a compound surname with the lineage ‘De la Cerca’: Tortolero de la Cerca. The Tortoleros spread throughout the New World, especially Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

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Chapter 4

Origins

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Like many Creole families, both surnames, Morín and Tortolero, have been documented from the time of the Inquisition, and currently the government of Spain has proclaimed a conciliatory act, restoring their origin. [1]

The Morín ancestors, merchants from the Canaries took up residence in Caracas in 1745. During the colonial period, the Morín descendants worked as ranchers, and after Independence (1821), they served in the ranks of the Federalist army fighting various warlords.

In contrast to the genealogy of the Morín family, the Tortoleros, according to Maria Teresa Tortolero Rivero, go back to the Toledo of the 19th century. But the origin of the Morín surname has documentation in the National Library of Venezuela, from the ecclesiastical records of the state of Guárico, and the Capital District of Venezuela. The activities of the Tortolero before their arrival in Venezuela is unknown, but after emigration, they were cane workers and coffee farmers in Bejuma.

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Chapter 5

The Morín Family

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In 1813 the fourth paternal great-grandfather, the “bachiller” José Calixto Morín Fuentes was the parish priest of Lezama de Orituco, in the capital San Francisco Javier de Lezama (founded in 1688), today Altagracia de Orituco in Guárico [2]. His slave María de Los Santos was the fourth great-grandmother of the Morín family. She had two children by José Calixto, whom, according to bastimal documents, he emancipated. One of her children was our third great-grandfather, Críspulo Morín. From the union between Narcisa Landaeta and him was born, among others, Venancio Antonio (1843-1929), known as El Tuerto from his lazy eye. Great-grandfather Venancio Morín Landaeta was a Federalist general belonging to the regime Azul.

Venancio Antonio Morín Landaeta married his first cousin Andrea Fuentes Ramírez in 1870. From this union were born seven children: Luis Ramón, Críspulo, Jesús Antonio, Venancio, Sofía, Catalina, and José Calixto. Saved our grandfather José Calixto Morín Fuentes, all of his brothers became lawyers. José Calixto studied music; he served as the director of a band in Altagracia de Orituco, and was a composer of waltzes and other popular music genres.

Later, from the union of José Calixto Morín Fuentes (1892-1967) and Domitila Infante Hernández (1892-1985), nine children were born: Calixto Eduardo (pharmacologist and philologist), José Galdino (lawyer and Doctor of Political Science), Jesús María –nicknamed Chucho–(pedagogue and government official), Sofía del Carmen (assistant to the director of the National Library of Venezuela), Venancio Enrique (merchant), María Josefina–nicknamed Pipina–(housewife), Luis Eduardo (lawyer), María de Lourdes–nicknamed Malula–(school secretary) and Isaura Inés (housewife).

The Morín Infante family lived in Altagracia de Orituco until 1944. In that year, José Calixto Morín Fuentes was appointed to the staff of the Caracas Military Band. Two years earlier, the oldest son Calixto Eduardo (1917-2000) and José Galdino (1920-1997) were students at the Central University of Venezuela. Calixto Eduardo disciplined his brother José Galdino from an early age at the behest of his father José Calixto, who worried about how difficult it was to control him. José Galdino and Calixto Eduardo had stayed with their uncle Luis Ramón Morín Fuentes, older brother of their father José Calixto. During his stay José Galdino seduced the housekeeper, who gave birth to a boy. Our cousin Luis Morín Loreto, son of Luis Ramón, adopted the newborn and gave him the name César Morín Padrón. Everything seemed somewhat normal. José Galdino excelled in his law studies, receiving his doctorate summa cum laude in Political Science from the Central University of Venezuela, July 26, 1947. His thesis was entitled “Human Capital,” based on the principles of the French economist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), member of the French liberal school and author of La Loi. There upon José Galdino excelled as a litigator in both civil and criminal law. He never involved himself in Venezuelan politics.

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Chapter 6

The Tortolero Family

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The maternal great-grandparents were Elogio Tortolero Cabrera and Paula Ojeda. The second surname of the maternal great-grandmother is still unknown, as is unknown also the existence of brothers and sisters. It is known that the great-grand-father Elogio had four brothers and sisters: José Antonio (who died in Ezequiel Zamora’s guerrillas), Tobías, Rosa Manuela, and María José. It is believed that the brothers worked as farmers.

The Tortolero Cabreras owned a large estate in the state of Carabobo, called “el fundo (ranch) de Marta López,” near Bejuma. From the union of Elogio Tortolero Cabrera and Paula Ojeda was born, among others, Rafael Eusebio Tortolero Ojeda (1893-1938). Rafael Eusebio married Marcolina Rivero (1898-1937). They inherited the ranch. From their marriage they had five children: Lucía (housewife), Leopoldo (grocer), Rafael Eusebio (contractor), María Teresa (lawyer), and Federico (pharmaceutical representative). Grandfather Rafael Eusebio, however, had a double life supporting six illegitimate children, with whom his legitimate children never engaged.

Grandmother Marcolina Rivero died at the age of 39 from eclampsia, and a year later our grandfather Rafael Eusebio Tortolero Ojeda died at the age of 49 from pneumonia.

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Chapter 7

María Teresa Tortolero Rivero

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María Teresa was 11 years old when she became an orphan. Between 1938 and 1944 she attended the Colegio de Lourdes in Valencia. The priest Francisco Martínez, facilitated her admission where she boarded for six years. She then studied for 2 years at the Liceo Pedro Guál after which she began working as a hygienist in Valencia. Shortly thereafter she qualified as a secretary in the state capital of Miranda, Los Teques, where she met and married a Russian emigrant named Aleksander Sarayeff in 1949. A few days after their marriage, her husband Aleksander disappeared.

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Chapter 8

María Teresa and José Galdino

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In 1950, María Teresa Tortolero Rivero moved to Tacarigua where she met José Galdino Morín Infante, when he was head of employees at the Tacarigua Sugar Mill. On the advised of José Galdino, María Teresa filled for divorce. Sarayeff reappeared, threatened her, and her lawyer had an injunction issued against his contacting her. Then, in 1951, owing to a lack of medical resources and neonatal incubators, José Galdino and María Teresa lost their first born child, Carlos Alberto, born two months prematurely. The baby only lived for a few days, It was a traumatic shock to them. A year later, in March 1952, at the age of 25, María Teresa married José Galdino, 32.

José Galdino bought a house on a 12-hectar piece of land on the outskirts of Guacara in Carabobo. The land was framed between the road to Guacara and the highway to Caracas. Next to the house there was a enclosed swimming pool. There three children were born: Alberto José (lawyer), Ricardo Federico (author and visual artist), Andreína Teresa (lawyer). Their families often visited. Then the Morín Tortoleros moved to the town of Naguanagua in the same state. In 1959, the Morín Tortolero family moved, for the last time, to the urbanización Carabobo (a residential community) in the city of Valencia, There two more children were born: María Teresa, nicknamed Bonnie (playwright, director and acting teacher) and José Galdino (import/export merchant).

After fifteen years of marriage in 1967, at the request of the priest Simóm Salvatierra [3], María Teresa was elected to the State Assembly of Carabobo as a representative of El Indio: a populist party also known as the Cruzada Cívica Nacionalista (the Civic Nationalist Crusade Party), founded by followers of the former president, military dictator, Marcos Pérez Jiménez. She was especially proud to be the first female assembly-person from her state. Her husband José Galdino, however, did not agree, for the Morín family had suffered imprisonment and torture under Marcos Pérez Jiménez’s six years as president. As a result, she resigned the position. Later, María Teresa opened an imported fashions boutique in the annex to her residence and, once again, José Galdino disapproved of her being a shopkeeper.

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Capítulo 9

The Allure of Superstition

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María Teresa believed herself clairvoyant. Those referred by close friends to the circle of her friends often came to ask for spiritual advice. She, inspired by Theosophism and the Rosicrucians, delved into her metaphysical studies. She attended spiritists’ sessions seeking counsel in her own mystical enlightment. José Galdino harassed her by questioning her sanity. However, José Galdino practiced a kind of ritual that combined black and white magic with the assistance of guides, among some of his own clients and intimate acquaintances. They sometimes advised him on his fate and how to keep enemies at a distance by practicing fetish cures, such as placing open scissors on the edges of a glass of water tied in black ribbon in front of a round mirror by his night stand.

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Capítulo 10

Separation and Divorce

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If there is value in a relationship, the union remains, because there is a mutual understanding. This is possible as long as there are shared stories on which trust is manifested. But if the relationship cannot find a story to agree on, the union is destroyed.

José Galdino and María Teresa were not prepared to deal with their differences after 16 years of marriage. José Galdino was an inveterate womanizer and María Teresa, not feeling reciprocated, got tired of him, and of his innumerable extramarital affairs. In a sense, both suffered existential conflicts: They did not know how to deal with their emotions or their defects.

For José Galdino, a divorce was unthinkable, since it threatened his perceived entitlement to wealth and privileges: According to the Venezuelan laws, divorce meant the equal division of properties, which he was not willing to do. When he was notified on the divorce petition in 1975 by María Teresa’s lawyer, Ramón Padrino Príncipe, his fury was uncontrollable. He was inconsolably offended by the causes of divorce before the law, even if they were true.

Knowing the maneuvers of José Galdino in contentious divorces, María Teresa had the insight to block the possible transfer of marital property. As a result, José Galdino almost threw the lawyer Padrino Príncipe down the court stairs.

The divorce decree was barely given in 1979, a year before José Galdino married a dentistry student 25 years his junior: Piedad Urán Cardona. The final division of assets did not conclude until 1985. José Galdino accused María Teresa of ineptitude in her ability to manage herself. Although the divorce’s sentence was in her favor, María Teresa ended up abandoning her lawyer Padrino Príncipe and gave in to accepting a representation by her own son Alberto José. In the process, she effectively renounced to a large part of her conjugal rights. Exhausted and convinced that, for her, there would be no justice in the separation of properties, María Teresa preferred to concentrate on her independence and future.

For 10 years, between 1975-85, during the lethargic course of a separation of marital property, María Teresa preferred to give herself over to finish her education. While studying, María Teresa fell in love with her math teacher, José Valecillos Carrillo–nicknamed “Piri”–: a high school teacher in Valencia, fifteen years her junior. As María Teresa prepared to meet the requirements to enroll in law school at the University of Carabobo, Piri decided to apply as well. Before graduating, María Teresa ended up marrying Piri, both graduating with a law degree in 1992. María Teresa was 64 years old and her husband Piri was 49.

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Chapter 11

Irony of Ironies

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Inexplicably, María Teresa and Piri settled as lawyers in the same office as her ex-husband José Galdino and her eldest son Alberto. María Teresa thought that her sacrifices and relation to her son had given her some rights to be a part of the same office. Her main interest lied on the legal protection of minors. Her marriage to Piri, however, lasted no more than two years. For María Teresa her new marriage had been as disappointing as her previous one. Yet, by 1996, in one of her most vulnerable moments, María Teresa came to declare that the divorce from José Galdino had been a mistake on her part: Defeated, María Teresa began to reveal a kind of intellectual dissociation. Was it depression? or an early stage of Alzheimer’s?

After the first ten years of marriage with Piedad Urán, José Galdino had his own marital conflicts. Since 1993, Piedad Urán had been asking for the dissolution of the “pre” nuptial agreement, which forced her to remain in her marital relationship, unless she chose to abandon all her property rights accumulated during the period of the marriage, and in effect of every right before the law. José Galdino flatly rejected her request, even though it went against his own security. His fear was to be alone. In the short term of three years, however, destiny itself granted Piedad the emancipation that she so much longed.

Between 1994-95, Piedad Urán’s wish came true with José Galdino’s declining health, who developed symptoms of Pick’s neurological syndrome: between periods of motor and intellectual absence to total dementia. Although I had initially sought out for his treatment, I was unable to help him further while his wife Piedad interfered. One November 1996, at the request of my father, I returned to the United States to seek treatment for my own health where I resided. After some months had passed, José Galdino was finally operated on for a cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a head concussion, which had not been treated or diagnosed between December 1996 and July 1997. Once released from intensive care, his ex-wife, my mother María Teresa recounted that she perceived in his impatient gaze the search for someone who was not present: it was neither Piedad nor any of his children near him. She implicated me. José Galdino died of pneumonia on August 4, 1997.

In 1998, María Teresa lacked the energy and concentration to continue practicing as a lawyer, and her daughter Bonnie urged her to reconstruct her poetry, which, according to María Teresa, had been burned by her ex-husband José Galdino. From 2004 to 2005, María Teresa recomposed fifteen of her poems, including some dating from 1974-79, which was released among family members in a collection of poems entitled Blue Magic. These are included here following the epilogue of this story.

Chapter 12

The Last Years of María Teresa

In 1999, at the age of 72, María Teresa traveled to Europe for a month, fulfilling what had been her lifelong dream. She visited Madrid, Paris, Venice and Rome. During the trip, María Teresa remembered a moment when she stumbled on the way to court five years before: At the moment of consoling her, this seemed to her the most sincere of our shared memories. Days later, at the airport, she asked to pose in front of a mirror in the airline’s private club and said: “I hope to vouchsafe this image to my memory.”

In 2004, I invited her to celebrate her seventy-seventh birthday in New York City. On this last trip, she met David, my husband of nine years, and his mother, Eva, who was four years her senior. Maria Teresa admired her for her great vitality. The following year, María Teresa is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

In 2009, María Teresa was already suffering from one of the most advanced stages, for which we agreed on her permanent care in a specialized home for Alzheimer’s. It was no longer possible to care for her at her house, where her daughter Andreína had cared for her as her main support. Like her daughter Andreína, her son José Galdino spared no effort in caring for their mother. His leadership was exemplary: Just as José Galdino stood by her side during her two divorces, when he was just a teenager, he now showed the same loyalty.

María Teresa died on June 18, 2011, at the age of 84.

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Epilogue

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A Journey Through Time

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In writing this story, I acknowledge my limitations in trying to understand the lives of parents as well as of grandparents, whom we thought we knew intimately; but to be honest, it wasn’t so. We cannot really know who they were, any more than we can know ourselves. This understanding highlights the evanescence that defines our relationships, we can only barely touch the edges of our existence. There is much that one cannot say or refrain from saying about life or about ourselves. One’s own regret, shame, or recklessness would only censor our stories.

The recognition that all lives are imperfect rather defines our human dignity. The fact that we do not or could not know ourselves is not necessarily predetermined. But it should be noted that an emotional essay that is not objective would dishonor our existence; it would rather be an incongruous substitute to cover up our imperfections. Our lives must first and foremost be celebrated for our differences, without prejudice. Whether we have nurtured each other or caused us pain, it is a matter of forbearance: Longanimity [4]. What is most exemplary seems to be forgiving ourselves for the pain we have caused and humbly seeking compassion for our ignorance. Even if we were to hope for our legacy to be favorable, it will not be up to us to know it, because life continues beyond ourselves: Life goes on!

Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson

Footnotes:

[4] Ref: According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Longanimity describes a disposition to bear injuries patiently, same as forbearance. Longanimity is a word with a long history. It came to English in the 15th century from the Late Latin adjective longanimis, meaning “patient” or “long-suffering.” Longanimis, in turn, derives from the Latin combination of longus (“long”) and animus (“soul”). Longus is related to English’s long and is itself an ancestor to several other English words, including longevity (“long life”), elongate (“to make longer”), and prolong (“to lengthen in time”). Now used somewhat infrequently in English, longanimity stresses the character of one who, like the figure of Job in the Bible, endures prolonged suffering with extreme patience. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/longanimity

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María Teresa Tortolero Rivero through her life. From left to right: 1- In 1945 with the Pedro Guál Liceo uniform. 2- In 1954, during her third pregnancy, accompanied by her husband José Galdino Morín Infante, and followed by her brother-in-law Chucho Morín Infante. 3- In 1992 becoming a lawyer. wearing cap and gown with diploma and medal. 4- In 2004 at the age of 77 in front of her son-in-law David Lowenberger and holding to his mother’s arm, my mother-in-law, Eva Lowenberger.

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Poetry of María Teresa

Blue Magic (Magia Azul)

(Dedicated to my Children)

i

WHEN IT BLOOMS IN SPRING

(June 15 1974)

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When it blooms in spring
beautiful flowers from my garden
I offer you my whole life
because suddenly …
it is finally going away
I take care of your soil, I water your plants
and sweet fruits I would like to give to you
from my fields of gold and silver
when it blooms in spring.
Beautiful flowers from my garden
crossed the valleys, deep seas
with their cherub wings.
I leave your soil and beloved hearths
For the sap no longer gives nourishment
nor does it tille the fields of their songs
trailing with their aroma until they fade away.

In yon green valleys
in which I dreamt
and that is the goal of my stroll
towards the plants I loved so much.

ii

WINGS BLOWN AWAY

(June 15 1974)

(Poem by Bonnie Morín Tortolero)

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We were born free
like red poppies with falling wings
with an innate unease
shedding petals up and down gullies and hills.
and in the blinking of an eye
they flew away …

In what bitter nest
will they shed their yearnings
if a veil covered their sight
over the glint of their hearts
facing the world
as if it were a promised land?

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(Poem by Maria Teresa in response to her daughter’s)

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... Follow its swift flight
as time passes by
for wide and long is its course
and if at its first chance it falls.

Badly wounded sparrow
raise your eyes beyond the clouds,
fear your lot no more
lest cowardly the flight might be
for love is divine.

iii

COME TO ME

(June 30, 2004)

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My beloved, come to me
if you loved me
for I’m waiting for you.
Do not make me beg
for I love you
and I suffer not knowing of you.

Starving of light
of your gaze
so that I may live.
For you crossed
my path
to be loved
for eternity.

Life seems absurd
in some instances!
If a match cannot exist
with room for hope.
Letting things go
to nothing more than the draw of luck.

Leave everything in its place
for oblivion is imposed
and so be it.

iv

TO LIVE FOR THEM IS MY VIRTUE

(April 9, 2004)

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From the narrowness of form
the principle of virtue arises,
the virtue of my loves,
the virtue of loving.

Feeling how much I love them
I exist for them.
It’s all I have.
It’s all I am.
Without them I would be nothing,
to live for them is my virtue.

I love them, I love them …
Thanks to my maker,
Love is life.

v

I REFUSE ACCEPTANCE

(April 14, 2004)

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I don’t want to force barriers.
I don’t want to have chimeras in my dreams.
Nor to encourage the illusions of a false hope.

As fragile as a straw in the wind.
thus, I wish to erase
all ungrateful memory of its existence

So much that I wish
with the very force of love,
which I carry indelibly within,
in opposition to chance,
to that one toying with us
as if we were ignorant.

vi

DO NOT FORSAKE ME

(May 11, 2004)

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Instill in me your creative force
to praise you with rapture,
all that my soul longs for.
Eager for your compassion
I implore your presence.
Fill my soul with your divine love
and do not forsake me.

vii

I DREAMT

(May 11, 2004)

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I dreamt that I was a diva
of the Bel canto
that with devotion
I sang to my father
while daydreaming,
my companion since infancy
with a sweet melody
within myself,
which I still sing not knowing why.

viii

WHEN A DREAM BECOMES REALITY

(January 26, 2004)

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What may have been audacious for me
for others may have been presumptive.
To judge deed rather than intentions,
Man has no dominion.
He may dream
as a way to spend time
by limiting himself to dream.
No one may be hurt.
He may be just with his dreams alone.
But while dreaming as a way of life
his dreams may also be fulfilled.

ix

MOST BEAUTIFUL OF ALL

(September 11 2004)

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She was beautiful, the most beautiful among the beautiful
with an upturned and fine nose
with thin and expressive lips
with huge heavenly eyes
with a smiling gaze.
And with a sweet voice inviting to sing alone.
I sang with her
In the shadow of a picture window
And as I sang
Mocking birds joined in
and they began to sing

The song they heard.
Morning birds
that came to her window
singing at dawn
awakening the day

Mama smiled
and between songs she told me:
“You are one another sparrow
my good girl, my smart girl
an insight I shall provide
so that between flight and flight
your dreams may be realized,
so that between dream and dream
you may also learn to fly.”

x

ABSENCE

(June 13, 2005)

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How much does absence contain
distresses and troubles of the heart
for whom awaits the absent one
never to return, leaving doubts
for whom awaits in suspension,
for not hearing from her beloved one,
whatever happened to him?
One cannot be filled in quiescence,
empty without his love,
and to know best how to await
until his return
with the loving sameness of before.

xi

AN ANGEL FROM ABOVE

(June 30, 2004)

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An Angel descended from above
teeming with light
and his eyes like the splendor of two stars
reflected upon my soul,
conquering me.

Yet to be left unrequited
not knowing how to live without.
Where has my beloved angel gone?
Where did he go?
Who may reflect upon him
as much as I did?
Waiting for you.
One has to learn.
For you will return to me
to be made happy
as I always did.

xii

AFTER LOVING HIM FIRST

(March 1978)

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Why did I meet him for love?
Why did I love him
having to live with his absence?
What a cruel chance!
to have poured my love
not knowing if corresponded
to end having to endure his distance
beyond my comprehension.
Whatever happened to that love?
to his falling in love?
The one I saw shinning in his eyes?

xiii

IF ONLY I COULD SEE

(March 1978)

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I transit like a wanderer among shadows
and though stone blind I wish to see,
looking and seeking among things
where daylight does not enter;
looking between all things
until I find a kindred spirit.

I ask My Lord in his infinite mercy
to take compassion of my vexing pains
if I suffer for deluding myself God like
I also suffer from feeling desolate:
The pain that steals my soul
and all the grace of its  glory.

xiv

GREATNESS YOU BESTOWED UPON MY SPIRIT

(July 1979)

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Greatness you bestowed upon my spirit
for the whole world rests upon my bosom
though in sadness I stray
in vain attempts to redeem my heart.

As pariah in a desert
in my migrant existence
I feel the prick of painful thorns.
and the corrosive doubt of uncertainty.

My home’s encumbered by the punching of loneliness
only absence occupies it.
Why have you forsaken me?
Why so much cruelty?
If born to love
when for love’s sake
I wish to be faithful.

xv

BLUE MAGIC

(July 9, 2004)

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You shall see how
the golden eagle in swift flight
will reach to infinity.

You shall see all we love
turns Blue by magic.
It will come to you.

And you shall see how the magic of love
transforms your heart,
and empowers the joys of life,
our dream so long awaited,
to love and being loved!

“Memories of Herta”

January 7, 2022

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://observationsonthenatureofperception.com/2022/01/06/memories-of-herta/

Transcription

“Memories of Herta”

January 7, 2022

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://observationsonthenatureofperception.com/2022/01/06/memories-of-herta/

Transcription

Altercations of Pity

January 7, 2022

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://observationsonthenatureofperception.com/2008/06/01/altercations-of-pity-by-ricardo-morin/

Transcription

“Memories of Herta”

January 6, 2022

*

Photo provided by Herta’s daughter Vivien Kane

In the summer of 1975 I took a painting-studio workshop under Herta’s instruction at the University at Buffalo: from that time evolved the bonds of our friendship. Herta’s wisdom came from her own vibrancy; her curiosity seemed boundless. She would explore various new subjects, from computer art to Japanese calligraphy. All this enhanced her as an artist. As a teacher dealing with students, she had little patience, and many of them felt intimidated by her demands. Most memorably, she taught me that an artist had to evoke the meaning lurking behind every image. Art was not a progressive evolution; nothing was new: everything had already been done; the imperative was to make something of significance.

Herta identified with the stories I shared about my family, and especially about my mother. She also told me stories about her own parents, particularly about how much she admired her father. Through the years, Herta’s loyalty was constant. She was as nurturing as a mother. Being 26 years older than I, she wondered why I wanted to spent so much time with her. I responded people of my age bored me.

The last semester of my junior year, Herta invited me to lunch with her husband Ernest, a cardiologist at the Veteran Administration Hospital next to the university. That morning, some students had set a fire outside my door. I called the university police but I accused no one. Later I told Herta what had happened. She and her husband assured me every thing would be fine. That afternoon we listened to the music of Handel and Brahms, talked about the poetry of mathematics, and discussed the polemics of anthropology of art. That night I did not return to my dormitory room, but stayed with a Polish graduate student of architecture: Jurek Pystrak invited me to stay with him until things were sorted out. Little did I know how significant Herta and Jurek were to become.

While studying for finals, someone I didn’t know introduced himself to me. It seemed he had been my bodyguard since the time of the fire in the dorm. I never found out why he was surveilling me. Later Herta commented: “… the university must have taken stock of how lax its security system was.”

After I went off to Yale for graduate studies and Jurek had moved to Berlin, Herta and I stayed in touch. Sometimes we met in Manhattan and would go to museums and galleries. After having finished my studies at Yale, I worked as a stage designer in Manhattan. In 1988 I visited Herta in Buffalo. Her husband Ernest had died two years prior. Herta and I went to the opening performance of Abingdon Square by María Irene Fornés (1930-2018) at the Studio Arena Theater. That night Herta and I had the opportunity to speak with her (I had executed stage-designs for three of her plays, which had premiered in New York City). Again in 1989, I visited Herta in Buffalo; there we attended a retrospective by the painter Seymour Drumlevitch, who had been both of ours academic advisor, artistic mentor, and friend.

In 1992, Herta came to my first one-man show of paintings in Manhattan. Though I did not see her then, we kept in touch by phone. Jurek’s partner Karl in Berlin told Herta that Jurek had died of AIDS in 1984. This came to both of us as a shock; it explained why we had not heard from Jurek for eight years. Herta was instrumental in connecting us to Jurek’s past. Karl then visited my painting studio in Tribeca. Afterwards, he invited Herta to a river cruise for a night on the Rhine to commemorate his impending death (he had dismissed my optimism about antiretroviral treatments as a missionary sentimentality). I had told Herta his outlook was totally fatalistic.

When I firtst met Herta, I intuited that she was struggling with depression. I learned later much of her search for affection h
ad been uncorresponded. Her husband was also battling depression, having attempted suicide had it not been for his wife. Herta then looked after him through a long period of illness. After his death her circle of friends shrank. She thought herself unwelcome by other couples. In those years Herta was alone and riddled with guilt. Bewildered, she would knock at my door late at night, long past midnight, asking for support. Now in the 1990’s our roles were reversed: she was coming to my aid. Herta fed my optimism and helped me recover from the suicide of my partner of three years.

Then, in the spring of 2005, Herta met David, my partner of five years. As I walked to the avenue to help her catch a taxi, she told me that she only wished she had met some one like David for herself. Her statement did not surprise me, though we were touching each other’s past just on the edges. I understood that David reminded her of her desire to have met, during her lifetime, someone as sensitive as he.

In May 2008 David and I attended Herta’s 80th birthday party in Philadelphia. We met the entire family, including her grandchildren. Prior to that, Herta had often confided to me her insecurities about being a grandmother. She doubted how her grandchildren and son-in-law perceived her; whether she was accepted by them. She was self-conscious of her German accent, though she would glorify it as an appealing distinction. Although, these were significant years for Herta, the burden of a new life weighted heavily on her mind.

In 2011 my mother died from Alzheimer’s at age 84. During the preceding years I had mentioned to Herta that I used to call my mother in Venezuela to read to her “Don Quixote.” From time to time my mother would react with guttural sounds, which I took for affirmations of laughter. During these conversations, I began to become aware of Herta’s own difficulties in her perception of reality. She became easily agitated. She often felt misunderstood. She repeated past events, as if they were taking place now. I listened quietly, hoping she could regain her calm. I tried to interest her in other matters. Was this why she told me that it was important for us to be in contact? Thereafter I tried to call her until it was no longer feasible. After what seemed to be a long period of silence, her daughter Vivien called to let me know that Herta needed 24-hour a day care. David and I drove from Manhattan to visit her in Pennsylvania. In 2016 she was still able to talk. I thought she remembered me until our parting, when she said how nice it had been to meet me.

During our visit, Herta appeared alert. After we had shown her pictures of our place in Fort Lauderdale, she had made several whimsical remarks. Brashly, she criticized cushions that looked like doughnuts, and were completely out of place. Her wit was as sharp as ever. She even recounted her recommendations for graduate school, in which—to my horror—she had called me of the caliber of Leonardo da Vinci. The point is she relished being controversial.

The summer before her death, Herta was much more limited in movement and speech; she seemed listless, though she smiled often in what appeared to be simple resignation. In our banter with each other, she scowled and rolled her eyes mischievously glancing at everyone. We grinned at each other and she gasped with glee. Following this, Herta gestured, her hands around her mouth, as if asking why did I need a moustache. Then I showed her one of my geometric paintings. She looked at it, raised her brows, opening her eyes wide, and said “GOOD!" I was moved by her approval. She looked to be in command. As she continued savoring vanilla ice cream, she played aimlessly with her spoon, but she refused to let anyone help. When we said good-bye, we mentioned we would return in the spring, and she vouchsafed with the same facial expression, “GOOD!"

Memories about the loss of a loved one are painful, precisely because we have loved them. Accepting their past with humility is the one and only choice for their loss. It is an absolute; we embrace our existence through their memories. Grief is the time to endure suffering with forbearance.
1998

Written by Ricardo Morin and edited by Billy Bussell Thompson


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