Orlando del Greco

Doña Berta Gardés, Carlos Gardel’s mother

arie Berthe Gardés was born on July 14, 1865 to a family of humble merchants of Toulouse (on the Garonne, region of the Pyrenees, SW France). Her childhood was surrounded by poverty because she lost her father when she most needed him.

Cornered by the lack of the elementary things necessary to live, around 1880, her mother decided to migrate with her to the promising America. They settled in Venezuela where, either in La Guayra or in Caracas, misery blunted their self-restrained spirits and, after a few years, they came back to their French fatherland.

Berta, a young pretty woman was closely watched by her mother, as far as nature and love affairs were concerned. But one day she became pregnant but the one responsible for her "fault” was married and with several children. Then, when she gave birth to a natural son she had to stand the intolerance of her relatives who continuously complained about that and, specially, her mother herself.

Probably her mood was influenced by that uncomfortable situation, so the young mother in search of new horizons for her little child, boarded a ship towards Buenos Aires with her son. In this city were based some French friends who advised her to come to settle. She arrived with her little Charles on March 9, 1893.

Even though the early times she spent were hard for her in the Reina del Plata, little by little the years rewarded her abnegation in an environment that was not completely benign for her.

Much effort Berta Gardés needed for upbringing his son who turned out a sort of "scoundrel". Since he was a kid he used to run away from home, but in spite of that his marks were always above standard at the grammar and handicraft schools where he studied.

She proudly returned to Toulouse several times; her son’s career allowed it. Precisely she was there when he died in Colombia with the well-deserved fame of an unsurpassable interpreter of Argentine singing. She painfully wept the death of her beloved Carlitos! She remembered him permanently, without consolation.

In 1941 she sent a letter to a cousin living in France at a locality 80 km far from Toulouse, when it still was not a zone occupied by German troops. This letter evidences that painful memory six years after the death of her son, the well-known Carlos Gardel. In its essential part it says as follows:

«Once a week I go to the movies and to the cemetery to see my son. Here they project three motion pictures in each section. That is the way I find some consolation. Besides this, I neither want to go anywhere nor having a walk. When I’m at home I listen to my poor son’s songs on radio. That’s all I want. If you knew... nobody forgets him. Everyday, all radio stations broadcast his songs and they say how nice he was for those who came to know him. If only were you able to see his mausoleum... There are always flowers at the foot of his bust. Every person that goes to visit his grave leaves a flower and the day of the anniversary of his demise is crowded by people. When a film of his is projected the theater is full.
«People is never tired of going to see him. Children clap their hands when he appears on the screen. It’s something incredible. His portrait is everywhere.»

When Armando Defino, Gardel’s proxy, went to Toulouse to bring her back to Buenos Aires, Doña Berta told her relatives and friends down there: «The day I die I want to be buried by my son’s side.»

And there she is.
She passed away on July 7, 1943.