My Mother’s Kisses and My Father’s Blows

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Una madre. Foto:Sergio Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — This morning my mother got up early, made some coffee and knocked on my door to tell me that it was already 7:00. I came out, we exchanged good mornings (in French, as usual), and then I splashed some water on my face, brushed my teeth and gave her a kiss.

As I washed up and dressed before starting the day, she began recalling how my late father used to love coffee. Then she continued on that topic and started talking about some of his well-known exploits. I continued listening, without giving it too much weight.

But when she paused, I interrupted her by saying:

“Mom, I love you, because you brought me into this world and breastfed me; you taught me to say ‘mama’ and ‘daddy’ and you guided my first steps. You would kiss me and hug me (and you still do), you fought for my education inside and outside of school, you taught me to correct what’s wrong and you taught me right from wrong. You’ve given me many tools for me to make my way in life. That and everything else you know full well. You make it so that my love for you is unmatched.”

My father, on the other hand, rarely kissed me. When he came home, pounding on the door, that banging would startle me. That was about as unpleasant as his overbearing lectures and his old stories about all his exploits. He would say: “Here, I’m in charge,” and even when he was wrong, no one could say a word.

He achieved everything in his life by brute force. Yet, his constant imposing was such that he harmed himself because his feelings became confused. In the end, I wound up not listening to him and doing whatever I wanted.

The contrast between my mother and my father has been my main school of life.

Thanks to them I learned how to treat people, because I know how I don’t want to be treated. They taught me that love isn’t imposed, and that mere time spent together isn’t enough to inspire love in the people closest to you.


One thought on “My Mother’s Kisses and My Father’s Blows

  • Thanks for sharing your very poignant reminiscence, Jorge. I wonder what deamons bedeviled your father? From how you describe him, he reminds me of the character Zampano in Felini’s early film, “La Strada.” In any event, the dynamic tension provided by such a union should inevitably provide the psychic tension needed to create art.

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