Love Letters

Love Letters

to Vladimir

As part of the assignment of writing the autobiography, we were asked by the professors to get letters from our closest relatives, where they would express what our birth meant to them. Here are the letters from my mother, Luchi, and my two sisters, Sandra and Marcia.

Santiago, Chile, May 2, 1996

Dear Vlady: When I was a little girl, I used to play with dolls, with my friends. It was fun to dress them, to feed them, to take them for a walk. Then, they told us that you were coming, that our mother was pregnant. I was so happy that I would have my own doll, at home, alive, and that I could play with it (you) as I played with my dolls. When I went to the clinic to meet you, I was really nervous. I had forgotten about the dolls, and I started to realize that this was for real, that you were a boy and not a toy. I was excited, really happy to have a brother, even though I also felt like a mother. Remember that I was nine years old when you were born. One night I was feeding you with the bottle, and you started to stare at the light, then you became rigid, and you had a lot of temperature. I called the doctor, because our parents were not at home. He told me to prepare the bathtub with cold water and the sink with hot water. A few minutes later, when the doctor arrived he put you in the cold one and then in the hot one, back and forth. It worked. You gradually started to move. I was so relieved, and somehow proud that I had, as a child, done what I was supposed to do. The doctor said that the fever had given you convulsions.

When I was seventeen, dad told us that he was broke, and that he had three alternatives: to go to jail, to kill himself, or to leave the country, work abroad, and send us money so we could survive. He left. We didn’t tell you because you were only eight years old, but you knew. The next day you came downstairs to have breakfast and then go to school. All the furniture was gone. You went to the fridge to get something to eat, it was also gone. You didn’t even say good-bye and left running to school. That night I went to see you in your bedroom, and you were crying alone. I hugged you, explained you what had happened, and that you didn’t have to be ashamed of what dad was going through. He hadn’t taken any money, he only had bad luck with the stock exchange and had lost everything.

Later, you lived with different people. It must have been painful for you. You even lived with my former husband and me. You didn’t show your pain, you kept it in. Then, you started to drink with your friends when you were about sixteen, and also smoke who knows what. I felt bad about that, but I didn’t know it was your way of asking for help. Later, you left the country, had a rough time abroad, but you succeeded in going to school, yet what hurt me was that you said that the family was just an accident. I guess those were your defense mechanisms. It hurt me that you denied us as your family. Then you met Christine and gained some stability. Now I feel closer to you, even though you live far away. Kisses for you and Christine.

Viña del Mar, Chile, April 30, 1996

Dear Pepo: I was so happy when I was told that I would receive such a wonderful gift, a little brother. I was then six years old, when I would listen to your movements in mom’s belly. I couldn’t wait for you to come out and play with me, as well as show you to all of my friends. In a way, you were not much like a child, a bit more like an adult, especially, since dad went broke, an unusual situation in any family. It had to affect you, just as it made me more introverted, which gave me ulcers, irritable colon, gastritis, etc.

Due to our seven-year age difference, we were not friends as children, since I felt more like a mother to you, which was a role that didn’t belong to me. I was never jealous of you as a child, just the opposite, I felt admiration for you since you always did what you wanted to do, and I wasn’t like that. What did bother me was that you used to try to force your ideas on me, and I can’t stand it when somebody tries to do that. Now that you are older you are more tolerant of the ones who don’t agree with you. This has made it easier to talk with you. I feel as a good friend of yours, and I hope that you feel the same way. I hope that our friendship will grow and grow.

I love you very much,

Viña del Mar, Chile, April 28, 1996

Dear Vlady: In the middle of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo’s presidential campaign, I was fixing the Christmas tree in 1951 when I almost fainted. The doctor said that I was pregnant. Totally unexpected, but I was very, very happy with the news. Eight days before you were born, the candidate came to our house for a party, since your father was in charge of the campaign. My belly was enormous. He asked me when was the baby going to be born, and I told him it would be when he would be elected Chilean president. He said that in that case he and his wife would like to be your godparents. You were born at 16:50 hours, August 18, 1952. The next day your future godparents came to see you at the clinic. He asked the nurse who brought you how did you behave at night time. She said that you were a leader: «When he cries, all of the babies cry. And when he stops crying, they all stop crying.»

Your baptism was a big event. Even the trains stopped because your godparents were in the church, and he had already been elected president, so the crowds were filling all of the streets. There was no traffic, everything stood still, until the ceremony was over. You went to the same school that your father and my father went to, and after you graduated in 1969, you went to the US. You were only seventeen years old, and we didn’t want you to go, but you told us, «I’ll never disappoint you.» I’ll never forget that, because you kept your word. You had a hard time because you didn’t have a penny. You have had a beautiful life.

Congratulations, my son!!!