Thursday, October 04, 2007

Goodbye Gerardo!


When I came to Spain as a student some 29 years ago, I lived with a marvellous Spanish family called González Gálvez in a lovely flat in Madrid. I loved them then and I still love them now even though we haven’t kept up much over the years.

They are part of my past but also a part of my life in many ways.

There was Gerardo the Father, always cheerful smiling, very handsome and someone who lived life to the absolute full. There is Pili, his wife who is indescribable. The only adjective that comes to mind is “endearing”. She is the heart of the family. Pili taught Chemistry at the same school as José Antonio and Dolores and it was thanks to Dolores that I went to live with them.

Gerardo and Pili, a successful good looking couple had 4 children, Gerardo, Irene, Julieta and Toti (Alberto) when I went to live with them. Part of the deal was teaching Gerardo and Irene English every day. It turned out to be mission impossible as the kids enjoyed their time hiding from me or locking me up in the bathroom. However we got on famously and I became very close to them all; so much so that they have been in my heart and mind always even if we don’t see each other so often.

When I first fell in love with Eladio who was a priest at the time, they accepted us with open arms. In fact they were probably the main guests at our wedding after my family and the 2 daughters, Irene and Julieta, were my bridesmaids. They also put up some of my guests, including my dearest friend Amanda who they also knew from her visit to their house when I was living with them. Amanda got on famously with them all too. It was their car which, driven by dear Gerardo, was used to take me the church on my wedding day. And Gerardo, a cookie monster when he was 13, is now the proud Father of 5 children!

Then when I was pregnant with Susana, Pili became pregnant too, very late in life and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lucía, just a few months after me. Very, very unfortunately darling Pili became blind afterwards. It must have been a nightmare for her and a great difficulty in life still. I will never forget when I went to see her at the time. She opened the door, looked at me and asked me who I was? I said, “Pili, I’m Masha can’t you see me?” to which she replied, “No, I can’t but you just tell me who you are and I will hug you”. That brought a few tears to my eyes and still does, even as I am writing this.

And I am writing this post today because yesterday they rang me to tell me that Gerardo had passed away on Tuesday night after fighting an aggressive lung cancer. He was only 69 and too young to die and leave his wonderful wife a widow. I cannot get them out of my thoughts and so many memories come back.

As I wrote to Pili in a text message yesterday I have only good memories of Gerardo. He was a great enthusiast of life and his family. He was successful, he was generous, he was witty and he was handsome. He had a smile constantly on his face and above all he had a knack of making people feel welcome. My parents came to visit me when I lived with them and not only did they invite them for dinner, but Gerardo took my Father out on a couple of occasions. He took him to a Real Madrid match and to his golf club, both of which my Father will never forget.

He was a true gentleman and will be much missed by his family and friends but he will never be forgotten.

Goodbye Gerardo. Enjoy your beer and “marisco” up there, smile down at us and why not light up a cigarette and enjoy it now you can.

It was a pleasure to have known you.

Forever Masha

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