M + T

Acknowledgments

I recognize 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 most grateful for their safeguarding these memories. I am also indebted to my cousin Eduardo Morín Brea, son of Calixto Eduardo Morín Infante for the biographical Morín family’s summaries. I also thank my Uncle Calixto Eduardo for his guidance at the beginning of my education in the United States. Likewise, I am grateful to my father José Galdino Morín Infante for the incentives he made possible there. I also express my gratitude and affection to our mother for her warmth and optimism. Also I acknowledge cousins and uncles from both the Morín and Tortolero familes for their genealogical research; I am especially indebted to my aunt Ala Gaidasz Salamaja de Tortolero, widow of our mother’s brother Federico Tortolero Rivero, and to her late sister Lina Angelina Gaidasz Salamaja de Pystrak. And finally, I pay my highest respects for 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

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Dedicated to my brothers and sisters

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Chapter 1

The Inexorable Passage of Time

“How can one travel through time on the hands of ancestors? En quelque sorte, one plays the role of their guardian.”

Ricardo F. Morín

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Genetic diversity is innate to the human condition. The figuration that some animals are more diverse than others is both limited and subjective. A more appropriate way would be, as an Andalusian friend described it: “. . .looking for relatives from all over the world.” Certainly, I seek to frame the stories of my parents through their ancestors, so as to develop a biography, which goes beyond a mere listing of dates and places. I want to define links to customs and thinking. Where this narrative leads I know not.

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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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 spirit, both on our imperfections and our aspirations, if we do not distinguish between 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, sobriquet of the ‘Moor’ or moret. In diminutive forms it means ‘black’ or ‘dark brown’, or a Bereber 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 Arabs entered the Iberian Peninsula and remained a political force 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 extent in Madrid and Salamanca.

The surname Tortolero comes from Lombardy. The term derives from the name 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 name Tortolero was associated with divinatory mythology, because of 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 locus of the surname is Andalusia; it originated from Écija. 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, find documentation from the Inquisition onward. In 2015 the Spanish government offered to restore citizenship to families who had lost it through mandatory expulsion. [1]

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

In contrast, the Tortoleros, according to María Teresa Tortolero Rivero, go back to 19th-century Toledo. The Morín surname can be traced through documentation in the National Library of Venezuela and from ecclesiastical records in both the state of Guárico and the Capital District of Venezuela. Before their arrival in Venezuela, the occupation of the Tortolero family is unknown, but afterwards, they worked as cane growers and coffee farmers in Altos de Reyes.

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Chapter 5

The Morín Family

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In 1813 the fourth paternal great-grandfather, bachiller José Calixto Morín Fuentes was the parish priest in Lezama de Orituco (founded in 1688), today known as Altagracia de Orituco [2]. His slave María de Los Santos was the fourth great-grandmother of our family. She gave José Calixto two children, whom, according to baptismal records, were emancipated by him. One of her children was our third great-grandfather, Críspulo Morín. From the union between Narcisa Landaeta and him was born Venancio Antonio (1843-1929), known as El Tuerto. Great-grandfather Venancio Morín Landaeta became a Federalist general in the Azul regime.

Venancio Antonio Morín Landaeta married his first cousin Andrea Fuentes Ramírez in 1870. This union bore seven children: Luis Ramón, Críspulo, Jesús Antonio, Venancio, Sofía, Catalina, and José Calixto. Save our grandfather José Calixto Morín Fuentes, all of his brothers were lawyers. José Calixto studied music. served as the director of a band in Altagracia de Orituco, and was a composer of waltzes and other popular 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–(educator 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 became responsible for his brother at the request of José Calixto, who worried about how difficult it was to discipline him. José Galdino and Calixto Eduardo stayed with their uncle Luis Ramón Morín Fuentes, the older brother of their father José Calixto. During this time José Galdino seduced the housekeeper, who gave birth to a child of his. Our cousin Luis Morín Loreto, son of Luis Ramón, adopted the boy and named him César Morín Padrón. José Galdino studied law graduating summa cum laude in the Central University of Venezuela, July 26, 1947. His doctoral thesis, entitled “Human Capital,” studied the basic principles of human rights first elucidated by Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850). Thereafter, José Galdino excelled as a trial lawyer in both civil and criminal cases. He never became involved 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 the existence of her 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 they were farmers.

The Tortolero Cabreras owned a plantation in the state of Carabobo, called “el fundo de Marta López,” in Altos de Reyes. From the union of Elogio Tortolero Cabrera and Paula Ojeda was born Rafael Eusebio Tortolero Ojeda (1893-1938). Rafael Eusebio married Marcolina Rivero (1898-1937). They inherited the ranch. They had five children: Lucía (housewife), Leopoldo (grocer), Rafael Eusebio (contractor), María Teresa (lawyer), and Federico (pharmaceutical representative). Grandfather Rafael Eusebio, however, led a double life supporting six illegitimate children, who were never involved with his legitimate ones.

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 (1927-2011) at the age of 11 years was orphaned. From 1938 to 1944 she attended the Colegio de Lourdes in Valencia. The priest Francisco Martínez made possible her admission, and she boarded there for six years. She then studied for 2 years at the Liceo Pedro Gual and, then, she began working as a hygienist in Valencia. Subsequently she qualified as a secretary in Los Teques, state of Miranda. Here she met and married a Russian emigrant Aleksander Sarayeff in 1949. A few days after their marriage, he 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, the head of employees at the Tacarigua Sugar Mill. On his advice, María Teresa filed for divorce. Sarayeff reappears with threats against her, and José Galdino, as her lawyer, has an injunction preventing his contacting her. Then, in 1951, owing to a lack of medical resources and neonatal incubators, José Galdino and María Teresa lose their first born child, two months prematurely (Carlos Alberto). The boy lived only a few days. A year later, in 1952, María Teresa, at the age of 25, marries José Galdino, 32.

José Galdino bought a house on a 30-acre piece of land in the outskirts of Guacara. The land, framed between the road to Guacara and the highway to Caracas, had a house with an enclosed swimming pool. There three children were born: Alberto José (lawyer), Ricardo Federico (author and visual artist), and Andreína Teresa (lawyer). The parents’ families often visited them. Then the Morín Tortoleros moved to the town of Naguanagua. In 1959, the Morín Tortolero family moved, for the last time, to the urbanización Carabobo in Valencia. In Valencia two more children were born: María Teresa, called Bonnie by the family (playwright, director, and teacher) and José Galdino (import/export merchant).

After fifteen years of marriage, María Teresa, at the urgency of the reverend Dr. Simón Salvatierra [3], became a candidate for the State Assembly of Carabobo and subsequently was elected thereto. Her husband José Galdino forced her to resign the post because of the history of the party leader Marcos Pérez Jiménez’ persecution of the Morin family. Then she opened a boutique and, once again, her husband disapproves of her status as a shopkeeper.

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Chapter 9

The Allure of Superstition

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María Teresa held herself to be clairvoyant. People referred by close friends often came to her for spiritual advice. Inspired by Theosophism and the Rosicrucian order, she delved into metaphysical studies. Seeking council for her own enlightenment she frequented séances. José Galdino questioned her sanity. He, on the other hand, practiced his own rituals of magic. His clients and friends gave him advice on how to keep enemies at bay, the roots of his own fate, and the principles of casting spells.

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Chapter 10

Separation and Divorce

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Marriages remain intact out of mutual understanding. Such a union is possible as long as there are shared stories. But without trust relationships fall apart.

José Galdino and María Teresa were unable to deal with their differences. After 16 years of marriage, José Galdino remained an inveterate womanizer, and María Teresa, feeling unreciprocated, grew tired of him and his affairs. In a sense, they knew not their own emotions and deficiencies.

For José Galdino, divorce was out of the question: a threat to his status and finances. By Venezuelan law, divorce meant divided property, something which he was unwilling to do. When notified in 1975 of his wife’s petition for divorce, his fury became uncontrollable.

Knowing how he maneuvered in divorce cases, María Teresa blocked any possible transfer of marital property. As a result he attempted to throw his wife’s lawyer (Padrino Príncipe) down the stairs of the courthouse.

The divorce decree was issued in 1979, just a year before José Galdino remarried (Piedad Urán Cardona: a dentistry student, who was 25 years his junior). The division of assets between José Galdino and María Teresa did not conclude until 1985. Despite the court’s ruling in her favor, María Teresa fired her lawyer and took on representation by her son Alberto José! In so doing, she had to renounce large parts of her own rights. She now felt exhausted and lacking any sense of justice. From there on she concentrated only on her own future.

Between 1975-85, María Teresa dedicated herself to becoming a lawyer (perhaps to revenge her feelings of having been treated unfairly by the legal system). In preparation for law school, she fell in love with her tutor of mathematics, José Espirilión Valecillos Carrillo (Piri). He was a high school teacher in Valencia and fifteen years her junior. As she prepared for admission at the law school of the University of Carabobo, he too decided to apply as well. Before finishing their legal studies, they married and took their degree in 1992: She was 64 and he was 49.

.

.

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Chapter 11

Irony of Ironies

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Inexplicably, María Teresa and Piri worked in the same office as that of her ex-husband José Galdino and her son. María Teresa believed her previous sacrifices had given her the privilege of becoming part of that firm. Her practice focused on protecting the legal rights of minors. Her second marriage, however, was as disappointing to her as the first and was dissolved after only two years. Then in 1996, she announced that her divorce from Jose Galdino had been a mistake. She was now mentally and emotionally defeated and began to manifest a kind of cognitive disassociation (was this simply depression or the beginnings of Alzheimer’s?).

At the same time José Galdino’s marriage to Piedad Urán was in turmoil. Since 1993, she had been asking for the abrogation of their prenuptial agreement–thus forcing her to relinquish any property rights accumulated during the marriage. José Galdino denied the request. Within three years, however, fortune handed Piedad freedom.

Between 1994 and 1995, José Galdino developed symptoms of Pick’s Neurological Syndrome, leaving him unable to walk, talk, and reason. Although, I sought treatment for him, his wife’s interference was a major obstacle. On November 1996, following the suggestion of my father, I returned to the United States to treat my own health problems. A few months later, José Galdino was operated on a cerebral hemorrhage. José Galdino died from pneumonia August 4, 1997.

By 1998, María Teresa could no longer continue practicing law. To fill her time her daughter Bonnie urged her to return to writing poetry. María Teresa alleged José Galdino had burned what she had written before. Between 2004-05 she reconstructed some 15 poems, which were later distributed to members of the family under the title Magia Azul.

Chapter 12

The Last Years of María Teresa

In 1999 at the age of 72, María Terersa, fulfilling a life long dream, and I traveled to Europe. We visited Madrid, Paris, Venice, and Rome. On the trip, María Teresa remembered when five years before she had stumbled on her way to court: For her it was my consolation of her that amounted to the sharing of memories. At the airport days later, she watched our reflection in a mirror in the airline’s private club and said: “I hope to keep this moment forever in 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. María Teresa admired Eva’s vitality. The following year, María Teresa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

In 2009, she languished in the advanced stages of the disease, and we knew that her treatment had to be continued in a clinic. It was no longer possible for her daughter Andreina to assume sole responsibility for her care. Likewise her son José Galdino spared no effort in the care of his mother. His dedication and conduct were exemplary.

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

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Epilogue

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A Journey Through Time

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In writing this story, I acknowledge my own limitations in trying to understand lives I thought I knew intimately. My family and I do not know who they were, any more than we can really know ourselves. This highlights an evanescence that seeks to define our relationships, which barely touch the edges of our existence. There’s so much we can’t say. Our own regrets, feelings of shame, or recklessness can only be censors to our understanding.

The recognition that life is imperfect is the definition of dignity. It should be noted that a sentimental essay is not the goal dishonoring our existence; it is rather an incongruity covering up our imperfections. Our lives are celebrated for their differences. Whether we nurture each other or inflict pain on each other, it’s a matter of tolerance. What would be most remarkable would be forgiveness.

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Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson

Footnotes:

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María Teresa Tortolero Rivero through her life. From left to right: 1. In 1945 with the Pedro Gual 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)

*

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 till the fields of their songs.
trailing 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)

(Bonnie Morín Tortolero’s poem, added to our mother’s collection)

*

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?

*

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

*

... 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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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!

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