A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Tossing & Turning - Veracruz 1968
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

As I toss and turn in bed this early morning of December 31, 2009 I can but only think of a much more memorable one of December 31, 1968. Our oldest daughter Alexandra Elizabeth had been born in August of that year and weeks later we had visited my mother in the port city of Veracruz in our VW Beetle. We had driven at night on a Friday and almost there I took a hairpin curve much too fast. I lost control of the car and we turned over. Only a few weeks ago I had purchased a new pair of Firestone tires that came with a pair of free seat belts. At the time they were not obligatory in cars. The seat belts saved our lives. Little Ale in the back seat was in a wicker crib that had a little hood over it. That saved her. Some motorists helped us right the car and the lopsided mess somehow took us to my mother’s home on Calle Navegantes. I do not remember too well but I suspect that one of the helping motorists took Rosemary and Ale in their car while I manhandled our vehicle to keep it on the road.

The car was fixed eventually and my mother met her first granddaughter.

We returned that Christmas in the repaired car (it's behind Rosemary and Ale in the second picture) and spent a very hot and muggy holiday complete with several nortes that brought even more heat and high winds with sand that got into everything.

For New Year’s eve Rosemary and I walked on the Malecón (the broad avenue that hugged the port and the Gulf of Mexico. Later that evening we got into bed waiting for the moment when all the ships docked at the port would sound their wailing horns in a happy and very loud introduction into 1969. We got out of bed and with my mother we all hurriedly ate 12 grapes each, before the horns stopped, for good luck.

As I toss and turn on the eve of 2010 I miss that humid heat of Veracruz and my mother’s smile. I miss the sense of opportunity and that unfettered excitement that a whole life was in front of us. Who was to guess then, that we would be here in Vancouver so far from all that? As my Argentine friend Juan Manuel Sanchez would have said, “We are penguins in the arctic.” We are at home yet so far from it.

As I toss and turn I feel comfort that Rosemary is right there beside me. I feel comfort that little Ale is happy in her home in Lillooet. I feel comfort that Hilary and Bruce are giving their two daughters, Rebecca and Lauren a good home and instilling in them a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. As I toss and turn I feel the comfort of our two cats Toby and Plata who happily sleep nearby with no worries in the world. After all someone has to toss and turn. And that’s me.


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