MUM I´M PROUD OF YOU
By Hugo Garcia Fernandez (from:www.tribuna.islagrande.cu)
At first sight, the compact vegetation in front of the house, leaves no doubt that the inhabitants are nature lovers. Ferns and other ornamental plants recreate the beauty of a landscape that, though beautiful, can not heal the deep wound caused by the absence of a son, brother, husband, uncle, neighbor: Gerar as they friendly call him.
And the fact of sitting on the red-leader sofa where Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo used to lay in shorts, without shirt, to play with any of his five nephews, brings me closer to the family environment of one of our Five Heroes Prisoners of the Empire.
"He was always very tender, healthy, though he was allergic to aspirin", Carmen Nordelo Tejera tells us with very low voice, every detail of the story of her only boy, while she balances in one of the two rocking chairs where he balanced someday too.
As we talk about her younger child , I notice her more willing to revise periods of life that usually pass unnoticed and one doesn’t give them importance till one day, when they come to mind for a special situation.
Gerardo’s eye is malicious. Did he give you headaches when he was a child?
Not at all. He was quite responsible, he liked to study. Furthermore, when he was born, I already had a ten year daughter and an eight year one. People used to say that the boy was going to be spoiled, because after raising two girls it wouldn’t be easy at all to raise a boy.
"For example, my husband worked in the garden and Gerard took the grass to a near place in a wagon. Then a neighbor commented me: Carmen, this is abusive because the boy is too little; and I told her, it is his will, nobody forces him or asks him to do so.
"When fell, he used to get up and say: ‘Men don’t cry’. He practiced Karate, he played baseball, domino and billiard. He was always active, he draw caricatures and took part in contests, and when he won a prize once, his drawings began to be published in magazines and newspapers."
Kind, humble, Carmen was born on July 15th, 1933. Casually Gerardo married Adriana on the same month and day. From that moment on 15 became his favorite number.
-People say that boys are always more attached to their mothers?
He is very tender to everybody. And with me, imagine. Now he is far and he is telling me all the time mum take care, the worst thing that can happen to me is to know that something bad happened to you.
"When we saw each other in the United States, I don’t know where I got strength from. He said: ‘Mum, I’m proud of you because I see you on first line’. That encouraged him , because in these conditions, if he sees me crying he will get more afflicted. In all his letters he is concerned about my health, as he was with his father when he lived."
He has a reputation as a baseball player...
(Smiling) There were two old teachers who lived close to our hose and one day one of them told me: There is no boy like yours in this neighborhood, because all of them were playing and said hello to me and went on playing, but Gerardo came, took my bag and accompanied me to my house. Later he told me as a joke: Mum, my friends say that I’m bad at baseball because instead of playing I carry people’s bags.
"Few days ago Adriana (Gerardo’s wife) told him on telephone that the Girón and Juventud Rebelde journals had published an interview with a friend of his, from Cienaga de Zapata, and he didn’t let her finish. He answered immediately that it was his brother Urbano Bouza Suriz, just like that, with last name and everything, even though they haven’t seen each other since 1990. He was happy to know about his friend and to be able to communicate with him. I think that proves how much he cares for friendship."
What happened in this house, any day, when Gerardo was here?
He draw, he gave his caricatures a lot of time. He watched a lot of TV. In the afternoons he practiced karate or went for a walk. He went to sleep late and he slept few hours. He devoted a lot of time to take care of his plants and animals. He had everything from a turtle to a dog.
What can you say about his spirit in the difficult conditions of the unfair confinement?
I saw him better now than the first time I traveled to the United States. He works as a computer operator and he is allowed to take a little sun; fortunately because he was so pale before... I think he is quite recovered.
In what circumstances could you see him now?
The visits are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. We arrived a little late on Friday and we had to see him on Saturday. We met in a big salon, where there are tables and chairs. We sat one in front of the other. When he entered the room, dressed with the beige-colored uniform, I stood up and hug him very strong. I took his hands on the table, I caressed them when the guards made signals to indicate me to let them go. We talked about everything. He asked for everybody.
When was the last visit?
On April 19. We were ten days there. The first week we saw him once and on the next we could see him Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was five visits.
" The place is more ancient than the one where he was before. He manifested me that he feels better, that he likes his work with the computer and that he is keeping the statistics in a factory of electronic connectors."
How long does a visit last?
The hours for each day are divided according to the points they accumulate. The last time he had three ours left and they gave us an extra hour. He also has the choice to make phone calls.
This Sunday millions of Cubans will have you and the other mothers in their hearts. What do you remember from the last time you spent Mothers Day together?
He was always concerned with me. On my birthday, on Mothers day, he always brought me some present. I saw him many times writing congratulation cards for that date. I couldn’t precise what happened the last time, but he normally spent that day here. He congratulated the mothers of the neighborhood, his mother in law, maybe he went out. I will miss him of course but he will be very present in my heart that day.
If you had a real chance to publish a message for the North American mothers in the American Media, what would you tell them?
First I would congratulate them for such a beautiful day, as I would congratulate all Cuban mothers. I would ask them to cooperate to have justice done. When I went to Miami I wondered about the reaction of people there on considering them spies, and nevertheless, we found solidarity everywhere, the members of the Antonio Maceo Brigade visited us in the Hotel.
"I have to admit that there was no one who didn’t behave that way with us. That time I told Gerar: ‘In Cuba everybody thinks about you and they send you their regards’, and he said: Mum, it is not only there, I had a card from San Francisco, California, with 40 firms of solidarity with us’.
"And his lawyer commented that he felt admired with the attitude of these five young men, because despite the conditions in which they are confined, they stand firm, they don’t surrender and they make caricatures, poems and keep their dignity".
Despite your sorrow, are you proud of your son as a mother?
Of course I am, and Fidel with us. Every time we meet he kisses us and says: "They will return!". Every body is pendent to that. Few days ago Melba Hernandez asked me to send them a kiss, and I imagine it was on behalf of all Cuban mothers.