November 1, 2014 19:28:24 CDT
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
One day, Carmen began to lose her memories. Those were difficult times for the family and even more so for the son who was missing from her lap. Being so far away, he couldn’t do what he wanted most: to take her to the doctor, look for her medication, be by her side, watch over her sleep, I don't know. Even worse, this new circumstance had already denied him for some years the visits of his mom. She could no longer close the doors of her home in Arroyo Naranjo, Havana, cross the ocean and take to the highway to reach the maximum security prison in Victorville, California.
How tormenting can the pain of a mother be? How heavy is the suffering of a son?
It’s been five years since Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo received the fatal news in prison. His “mamucha” had not made it. He could not even say goodbye; and to this day Carmen Nordelo's gravestill has no flowers from her son, and misses the words he would have said had he been where he should have been on that November 2nd.
One can only guess the silent struggle of a woman, a mother, not to lose the battle and not let her boy down. Now Mirta, the mother of Antonio Guerrero, gives us all a lesson on what only they can do.Carmen surely clung to that vital force to preserve what was most precious to her: her sons; and Gerardo who needed her the most.
In the book Portrait of an Absence, Adriana said that when his mother did not recognize anyone, her boy's voice was always a balm. He spoke to her very tenderly, perhaps even told her a joke and he surely repeated a thousand times that he was okay, not to worry. The only sign that she knew whose voice was coming over the phone was a small tear running down her cheek. No longer able to speak, it was her way of saying "My son, I know it's you."
What would Carmen not have given to see Gerardo free, together with the woman he loves, surrounded by his nephews, with his family! What would Gerardo not have given to embrace his mother one last time...!
Above and beyond all legal arguments, anyone can understand that kind of pain burning in the chest.Perhaps, anyone might even be awed by the courage of Carmen's son. When all he was getting inprison were bad news about his mother's deteriorating health, he worried about the moment when itbecame final and he could not give her a final embrace. "He wanted to have Adriana or someone in his family to be the ones to bring him the news, not the prison guards', recalled Alicia Jrapko recently speaking to JR. I did not want to give his captors the pleasure of seeing him sad or depressed. That day, five years ago, was a seemingly normal day in Victorville, but mutiny loomed inside a prisoner's chest.
With a shattered soul, Gerardo observed the jail's kept routine without letting anyone know that the world was shaking under his feet. In Havana, Carmen was being laid to rest and his presence was needed in the Alcazar neighborhood to cry together.
How much did his sister Chabela miss his arms! And Adriana, how anguished must she have been, knowing all the feelings her husband was experiencing on the day his mother died...!
Five years have passed and memories surely swell each new November. Anxiety comes back.Gerardo has a debt. Among the many things that he will have pending, is the silent and intimatedialogue with his mom and those flowers that bloomed in his hands and are still missing on Carmen's grave. But for Gerardo to keep his promise, for him to live what he must live, for his family and his wife not to miss him any longer, he must be brought home. The struggle for the return of those men whohave spent more than 16 years behind undeserved bars must go on.
Once we have Gerardo here with his flowers for Carmen, perhaps with his face streaked with moisture, all of Cuba will know that there will be no happier mothers, in heaven or in earth, than the mothers ofthe Five, while the leaves of the mighty trees in the cemetery will whisper back, "I know it's you, my son."