By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Somebody once said we are oblivion. I don’t exactly know where I heard it, but it’s true, we are oblivion.
Death will take us one day and we will cross the threshold of the greatest mystery in human existence. From that moment onwards, we will live in the memories of our children and grandchildren that we have left behind (if we leave them behind) and maybe in some or many of our contemporaries, whether they are friends, enemies or acquaintances.
Then, years will pass by at a dizzying pace, the time will come when three generations of our descendants will have also passed. That’s when we may just be an epitaph on an unknown grave. Nobody will have any memory of us ordinary mortals anymore.
However, only a minority will manage to transcend death and beat oblivion. Some people will sadly do this because they will leave a wake of hate, crimes and lies and a legacy of completely destroying a population.
Others will be remembered for their glorious contributions to human wellbeing, because the important thing is to do good. There’s no point in transcending death and being condemned by History.
Consolacion del Sur’s history will be kind to Palmiro Gutierrez, who would have celebrated his 104th birthday nowadays if he were still with us. A cheerful man, self-educated with significant culture and a joyful demeanor that won him the affection and respect of everyone who knew him, the many of us who knew him over his long life.
Palmiro is known as the natural historian of this municipality. For years, he was a source of knowledge for history students and professionals, as his research in this field was a treasure chest of authentic and abundant information about the origins of Consolacion, which almost every book and work about the town was based upon.
His life is an example of personal growth, because even though he wasn’t able to go to primary school, having to work in a wide array of jobs ever since he was a teenager, he was an experienced journalist in the 1950s, thanks to his own sheer determination.
His articles ranged from satire to the most critical about the problems in Cuban society during that period. He worked for many newspapers in the province, until he founded his own newspaper called “Consolacion grafico”.
I had the pleasure of meeting him in 2004, and he honored me with his friendship. Always full of energy and smiling in spite of his nearly 90 years, weighed down with documents and errands for friends who he would process sworn declarations and other matters at the ONAT (Tax Office) for, because he wasn’t a man to sit still.
“Why didn’t you carry on being a journalist?” I asked him once.
“Because I didn’t want to keep on working for those Communists,” he responded.
But one thing was for sure, he was a man without any hate in his heart, he would get on with everyone.
I also remember him in those afternoons he would write, sitting in front of his old Underwood typewriter, because Palmiro was also a kind of literary minstrel. He would write his work in a tongue-in-cheek way, which has transcended to these times as “Palmiradas”. Some of his titles were: Special lawyer, the bugler didn’t work, ridiculous fight or, the theft of the steering wheel.
Palmiro was such a peculiar man that he began writing his mourning speech in 1988. He passed away at 95 years old on January 13th 2021, from a bout of pneumonia. Lots of people went to his funeral and in keeping with his wishes, the municipal band played a song for him, and bread with guava jam was handed out at midnight, also in keeping with his wishes.
Here is the last paragraph of his self-farewell speech:
…Thank you everyone and I’m really sad that I can’t be with you when you also leave this world, nevertheless, know that if there is something on the other side (which I doubt), I’ll be waiting to help you as best I can.
When you finish reading or hearing these bland lines, you’ll say: “This is the greatest piece of s*** ever written by Man”. But don’t forget it’s my last Palmirada!
Thank you everyone.
-Palmiro Gutierrez Perez
Great Palmiro, you will always be remembered for your kindness, joy and the mark you left on Consolacion del Sur’s culture.