Those Fine Argentine O’Reillys
Two weeks ago Rosemary, my youngest granddaughter Lauren,14 and I visited my Buenos Aires where I was born in 1942. I wanted to see my city through the eyes of Lauren who had never been abroad except a couple of times to El Cabo, Mexico and San Diego. I wanted her to experience a real big city. I made up my mind that I would not bore her with museum visits. We all live in Vancouver BC.
And yet I found myself telling her how I loved the subte (the Buenos Aires underground) or how I was always in awe when arriving at the huge, English style, train station of Retiro.
Lauren is generally monosyllabic but I can now use a brand new word in my vocabulary that I spotted only yesterday while reading from Julio Cortázar’s Octaedro in his story Cuello del gatito negro:
…se olían en la sombre murmurando una dicha de monosílabos y diástoles.
Diástoles or diastoles in English is that period of relaxation in the heart between pumping. But using it in a literary form it is the lengthening of a short syllable!
Lauren talks in monosyllables and diastoles!
I believe it was all almost for naught. I have no idea how much of what I said bored her to death. Sort of a war veteran talking about his exploits in a long forgotten war.
But Lauren did experience the Irish side of my family. My nephew Georgito O’Reilly’s mother was my first cousin and godmother. Her mother Inez Hayward was my mother’s eldest sister. She loved my mother and was the first in the family to hold me in her arms (after my mother, of course). Since she was divorced in the conservative Roman Catholic Argentina of the 1940s she could not be my godmothet. Her new husband, Alejandro Ariosa was my godfather as he also was Georgito’s. He was not a divorced man. So Inez’s daughter Inesita (18 years older than I) became my surrogate but excellent godmother. She was the second person from her family to hold me in her arms (she was 18) when I was baptized. As a young woman she married an Irish/Argentine called Jorge O’Reilly. That explains the Irish side of my family. She became a widow and married a wonderful widower, Dolfi Kuker. Two of his daughters are in the picture below with Inesita and her daughter Marinés ( I carried a torch for her!).
It was then in Georgito’s son Jorge’s home in El Tigre, that Lauren spent two days surrounded by five sisters and a brother, with a many boyfriends and husbands and one dog. Unfortunately Jorge and his wife Lola were in San Francisco. Jorge’s son Jorgito became the pater familias and he cooked up a wonderful asado on a Sunday. He introduced me to the latest rage in Buenos Aires, Fernet Branca with Coke. The first sip was questionable. The second was tolerable and the third wonderful.
It is my hope that a lot of those two days will sink in with Lauren and that after returning to an orderly, super-efficient but small city in comparison to the Buenos Aires sprawl of orderly-chaos she might have a broader idea of what the world is all about.
The O’Reilly family (there are tons of them) opened their doors to us and invited us to restaurants and family gatherings full of guitar and song. It is a family with no divorces, all devout Roman Catholics who are all, in mass, courteous, generous and kind.
But even such a family is subject to the tribulations of life. Inesita died just two weeks before we arrived in Buenos Aires. Lauren was never to meet the woman who talked like the Queen of England. But in the last few years around I said that was not true and that the Queen sounded like Inesita as Inesita was two years older. Only today I received an email from Georgito that his youngest son, Johnny was killed on Sunday in an automobile accident. He was a diabetic and it seems he fainted before losing control of his car.
Rummaging through my oficina desk today I found these three slided which I took sometime in 1966. They are delightful particularly since I see them in the rosier times of my past youth.
I tip off my hat to the O’Reillys and wish them few tribulations and much joy.
Lauren Stewart,14, Agustina O’Reilly, 14, - El Tigre, Buenos Aires, March 2017
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.