12: Effects of the Separation
I Am a Patsy! by George de Mohrenschildt
Several interviewers and even good friends asked me constantly the same question: “you belong to a different sphere of society — why did you get mixed up with these ‘low class’ people, the Oswalds?”
Most of the reasons were explained in previous chapters but there was another important explanation. In 1960 I lost my only son a congenital disease — Cystic Fibrosis — CF in short. although the fatal issue was expected, when it happened it affected me so strongly that I knew that I had to get “away from it all”. I asked my wife Jeanne to give up her successful designing profession and join me on an expedition on foot by the trails of Mexico and all of Central America. This effort helped me immensely and then we met the Oswalds very shortly after our return.
Lee understood the nature of my ordeal — and so did Marina — which was a Russian way of going back to nature, to be alone in the wilderness with the image of the lost person in our minds. And so we experienced a communication with a departed child. But walking among the poor and dispossessed opened our eyes to the realities of life. Before that, like most people in this country, we were hustling after our business, quite successfully most of the time, and dismissed poverty and inequality from our mind.
I became receptive to some of Lee’s ideas, listened to them, discussed them freely and came to look at his as a friend, almost a son.
Our experience of living with the poor people of Mexico and of Central America interested Lee immensely and he kept asking intelligent questions. Because of his childhood in New Orleans and his early contact with Latin Americans, he understood complex, semi–feudal problems and was searching for solutions. Marina was not involved in these discussions. Thus, possibly I identified Lee with my lost son, unconsciously, of course, and as far as age is concerned he could be my son. Maybe this is the reason why Lee accepted our paternalistic [sic] in his private life.
Lee trusted Jeanne and I implicitly and felt that whatever we tried to do would be beneficial to him.
I can think of another element of our closeness. At one period in my life, I was an officer in the Polish cavalry where I always prided myself on excellent relations with the soldiers. Maybe I treated Lee also like a soldier firmly but fairly. And on Jeanne’s part there was the same element vis–à–vis Marina, who was about her daughter’s age. And so the Oswalds might have considered us our foster parents.
After the forced separation, Lee came to our house every day. Once he brought some visiting cards he printed for me at Taggert’s. A touching gesture and I still keep these cards. Lee obviously liked my impossibly long name and spelled it correctly, but he printed the cards on shiny bristol paper with fancy letters and black borders, as if they were made for a funeral.
The evening he brought my cards he appeared completely despondent from lonesomeness. “Give me Marina’s telephone,” he begged me, “I want to talk to her and the child.”
We consulted each other. By consensus we gave Lee Marina’s telephone and address, against Marina’s will. We just did not believe that she would be afraid of Lee. Whether our decision was a right one, we don’t know but starting that evening Lee began calling his wife at all times of day and night, disturbing everybody until this charming couple, the Mellers, asked Marina to move out. This time we had nothing to do with the move and it seems that Marina refused to be with Lee and moved first to Mrs. Katia Ford’s place — a Russian refugee married to an American geologist — and later she moved to another family named Rays (she was also a Russian refugee and he an American advertising executive). Eventually she returned back to Lee. But before that she gave Lee each time her telephone and address. Marina returned to her domicile after a tearful scene — which we did not see. Supposedly Lee swore her his love, stood on his knees and promised to make some money.
Later on we were told that Marina had moved away from Lee for a few days in Fort Worth, and then went back to him ….
The separation we were involved in so painfully was too short to have a positive effect, I told Lee. He should have been more patient and we were angry with ourselves for this intervention in their lives.
And life was catching up with us — time became very valuable for both of us. Jeanne had to finish some urgent designing jobs and my long awaited project of a geological survey of Haiti was coming to fruition. At the same time I was chosen chairman of the local Cystic Fibrosis campaign, which meant writing letters, seeing lots of people, participating in various meetings and above all — raising money. Jeanne was most useful spending her energy most usefully, raising large amounts of money from our rich neighbours and from the executives of the clothing industry. The campaign was a great success.
And here is another coincidence: my ex–wife and I had started this Cystic Fibrosis foundation on a small scale in Dallas and eventually it became a national organization with headquarters in Atlanta. At the time of our friendship with the Oswalds, Jacqueline Kennedy became an honorary chairman of our Foundation for which, we all, afflicted parents were profoundly grateful to her. Lee Oswald was aware of this fact and out of friendship to me, he expressed several times how much he admired our President’s wife.