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Papucho at National Library in Santiago 

It was seventy degrees in Santiago and my dad and I sat down in my sister Pauly’s living room when I began typing away.

Me: Why did they (my grandparents) name you Eduardo?

Dad: I don’t know, I guess it’s a pretty name haha {has a smirk on his face}

Me: How old were you when you first fell in love and what was her name?

Dad: Her name was Carolina Heinz, I was sixteen years old. I remember I took her violets I had cut from my mother’s garden, that did not go well, we were not allowed to date. It was more or less a platonic love.

Me: What was it that you wanted to be growing up?

Dad: I had always wanted to be a doctor- I always found medicine to be an interesting field.

Me: What was your reason for wanting to be a merchant seaman/ marine?

Dad: I wanted to leave, explore, travel. I never had issues with my parents so I was not running away from problems, I just wanted to leave.

Me: How long were you away for?

Dad: I traveled for three and a half years. I told my parents a week before I left that I was going to Belgium in a week. They were shocked and I know my mother was a little hurt but she never said anything.

Me: What was your favorite place you visited?

Dad: New Zealand. We were stationed at that port/ harbor for six months; the people were incredibly nice and reminded me of Southern Chile so I fell in love with it.

Me: Going back to your childhood, what is your most cherished childhood memory?

Dad: (smiling) No matter where we were, every Sunday we all had to be at the house and eat together as a family. It was a tradition we carried even after you kids were born and came into our lives; being there when my mom cooked for everybody, that is my most cherished memory as a child and even now.

Me: What was your best friend’s name growing up?

Dad: Well, I actually had two best friends, Jose Castillo “the monkey” and Pato (nickname for Patricio), he died in an accident in Puerto Montt when we were young.

Me: When you were young did you ever think you would have kids? Was that a prevalent thought you had?

Dad: Not really, I always knew I would have kids, to me it was amazing to have a son or a daughter, equally good.

Me: [laughing] Do you have kids in New Zealand or Belgium? (my sister Pauly and I look at each other and start laughing)

Dad: [laughing] (he looks away and blushes) [pause] No, no.

Me: What led you to Chiloe? (Island in Southern Chile where my sisters and I grew up)

Dad: It so happened that my cousin Rolo lived there so I went to visit, well that visit turned into a steady job and I stuck around.

Me: How did you end up at the famous “pension”? (Pension: a sort of hostel/ boarding house where professionals rent out a room in a huge house and communally live with other adults)

Dad: I knew someone who knew someone that told me that house was a good place to live and the landlord, Ms. Chabela was a super nice lady that took care of everyone.

Me: Is that where you met my mom?

Dad: Correction that is where she met me. I knew she hated me, she was jealous because I was the only one that had Television set in the house so I would hook it up in the living room and we would all play Atari.

Me: [laughing] So how did the two of you start dating?

Dad: Well she was actually dating someone at the time, I invited her to the disco anyways and she ended up showing up with other people. We slowly started talking.

One time I came back to the “pension” with your uncle Miguel, I was drunk, climbed up the ladder and fell off, people inside just saw me fly down the window, hahaha!, of course your grandma Ely was in town visiting your mom, needless to say I made a terrible impression.

Me: hahaha! wow!

Me: What did you think when my mom told you she had Paulina?

Dad: Nothing in specific, I’ve always thought of Paulina as my own daughter, I love her equally as you and Danya.

Me: You guys got married shortly after, why?

Dad: We wanted something simple. It was in Quitratue with her family and a week or so later we went to Quillota and spent time with your grandparents and uncles.

Me: Did my grandpa or grandma say anything for marrying my mom so soon and they did not really know her?

Dad: No, I’ve always been the solitary one in the family, always made my own decisions and been respected for them. I was thirty-three years old when I got married.

Me: What did you think when Danya was born? (secretly wishing he was annoyed when she cried)

Dad: I remember vividly that year your mom was sad because she had not bought me a birthday gift, but Danya was born two days before my birthday, it was the best gift.

Me: Of course (sarcastically)

Dad: I remember that night, it was a beautiful full moon, I was at the hospital and I remember holding Danya and thinking “here she is world!” (raising his hands up)

Me: Did she cry a lot?

Dad: Haha during the day she was quiet, at night she would go off crying like crazy, I think her internal clock was messed up hahaha

Me: Why did you name me Cinthya?

Dad: I always liked that name.

Me: Did you spell it? (story of my life: EVERYONE misspells my name)

Dad: Yes, and “Sarahi” too.

Me: Was it for a particular reason?

Dad: No, I liked how they both sounded phonetically. I had a great friend named Cinthya growing up, just a friend.

Me: What is your biggest regret in life so far?

Dad: (his eyes got watery) Mmm, I did not get to know you or Danya better when I lived with you guys in Dallas. I should have sat down more with you two even if it was to talk about silly things.

Me: Do you think of your parents a lot?

Dad: (looks down) I do, sometimes I am at the house and I don’t move certain things remembering them what they would do there or how they would use certain things. I miss my mother the most.

Me: Why didn’t you go to college?

Dad: It was a money thing. I started studying political science one semester but then my professors fled (during the 1973 coup) and I never went back to it. I always loved reading.

Me: What is your favorite song or a song you like a lot?

Dad: That song in the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun (Take My Breath Away  by Berlin)

{Fun fact: My dad LOVES Rihanna’s SOS song, even though he has no idea what she is singing about}

Dad: (randomly tells me) I actually just want to pack up my bags and visit all the places I traveled to when I was young. I want to see who is still there, visit old friends, enjoy life.

Me: Where would be the first place you would arrive at?

Dad: Belgium, to see if people still remember me.

Me: What did you do with that leather pouch full of international bills/coins/currency I would play with as a cashier from a supermarket?

Dad: It is nicely hidden away from you hahah!

Me: When did you get into Calligraphy?

Dad: I always liked it. In school I took a class on it as an elective and it stuck with me ever since.

Me: What is one advice your mom gave you that has prevailed in your life?

Dad: Be humble and generous.

Me: What about your dad?

Dad: Drink? Haha, Just kidding, my dad and I did not really talk much but he always said “take care and save money”

Me: What do you miss most about grandma?

Dad: The way she carried herself. She smiled a lot. Every time I would bring you girls around she would say happily “here are my girls” and you (cinthya) just wanted her food and soups hahaha

Me: Did she like us? Haha

Dad: She loved you guys, she would sit with you girls and teach you things and read.

That interview session with my dad is perhaps my most favorite afternoon ever. He made me laugh and cry and I got to know him. It was a recurring joke throughout my trip that the confessions would keep coming or that I would grill him with more questions, but I know deep down inside we were both happy we were there, candidly talking and creating memories. I inherited my book-buying tendencies from him, my note-taking and my small hoarding addiction to small trinkets and pieces of paper. Now I know where my vagabond heart comes from as well: Papucho.

CSV

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