Memories of Chalito Many Years After She Left
I was watching the movie “Finding Neverland” last night and it made me think of my own mother, gone now for well over a quarter century, but as is the case with most of us and our mother’s, never far from my heart. She was a sweet soul who led a very difficult life, but whose strength of character and determination made me who I am, at least with respect to the good parts. At times that formation came in unpleasant doses which she may not have meant but, although they were sometimes hurtful and psychologically negative, the results turned out positive, … I think.
The film made me focus on a part of me that is not positive but rather too self-centered so that in reflecting on her, I too often focus on how she impacted me and not on her own emotions and experiences. The one striking thing to me last night was that as I tried to recall seeing her joyful, fully unguarded and in the throes of happiness, I couldn’t.
Her sisters on occasion, especially Livia, described her, prior to her marriage, as a free spirit who loved dancing and parties and hoped to become an actress, a side I never saw. My Colombian cousins saw her as a constant benefactress who flooded their numerous family with gifts every Christmas and birthday, their own Santa Chalito despite her humble financial status. I saw an introspective woman, a talented poet and artist, a very spiritual person in love with god and wanting more than anything to return to his protection, and a person who worked constantly, saving very little for herself. Who gave herself over completely to others, and to me not least among them. I’ve said that she educated me among the rich and powerful on a penny and prayer, and it somehow worked.
Of my three sons, only the eldest recalls her, she passed away when they were all very young, but the other two have virtual memories of her through their older brother, memories of a very loving woman who always had time for them. My eldest son named his first child Rosario in her honor. Something I very much appreciate and which makes my little Rosey even more special than by nature she already is.
Like so many of us I wish I’d been a much better son, much more attentive, much less critical, even more loving than I was. But all I can do now is play with memories. Bitter sweet memories sometimes but always treasured. And try to honor her by acting in the manner that she planned for me, the person she hoped to mold. A decent person dedicated to peace and justice and equity and harmony, and to serving as a defender of the most humble among us, her special flock.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved