You have your Lebanon and its dilemma, I have my Lebanon and its beauty, wrote the poet and thinker Gibran Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931). It is there, in his bled, his little village, in the land of his ancestors, where the family history is cultivated and bears fruit, where the voice of his forefathers speaks, embracing generations. A Phoenician land of thousand-year-old cedars, which from its coasts spread trade and culture to every corner of the Mediterranean. Lebanon is also the voice of its children and its children’s children. Of those who, from within and from without, call on memory to tell or sing its story, like Patricia Jacobs Barquet.
Daughter, sister, mother, friend, teacher. Her little corner in Chimalistac, with its inlaid furniture and multicolored flasks, evokes this woman with her eyeglasses, embroidered vests, and windblown hair, wrapped in cigarette smoke and telling the strangest, most memorable tales. From San Ángel as well, but in a cubicle full of photographs of her loved ones, comes the image of a patient researcher who documented the lives of hundreds of immigrants, from Lebanon and elsewhere, who settled in Mexico and left their mark on its politics, economics, social anthropology, and many other disciplines.
“La Pati,” as we all called her, was responsible for bringing the largest and most complete collection of Gibran Kahlil Gibran material to Mexico. Making contact with Gibran’s nephew Kahlil and his wife Jean, Patricia worked liked an archaeologist amongst the paintings, drawings, sculptures, letters, manuscripts, first editions, and personal objects of the artist. In her own words: In August 2007 I had the honor of traveling to Boston to draw up an inventory of the archive and, two months later, of receiving in Mexico the complete collection. All those of us who had the privilege to know the sculptor Kahlil Gibran, the poet’s nephew and godson, are grateful for his praiseworthy efforts as a collector.
Now Patricia has bidden us farewell, along with this year’s spring. The prophet said: Do not speak of my parting with tears in your voice; rather close your eyes and you shall see me among you, today and forever. Forgive us, Gibran: there are tears in our voice today…. Now and forever, Patricia Jacobs Barquet.