Blogtember: Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.
Those who know me know a lot about me. I am an open book. Everyone knows that I was raised in a strict Cuban household, and that my parents have a very interesting past. Some people know that my dad escaped from Cuba in the ’70s – but not everyone. So this is
what who I am choosing to write about.
My parents are hard workers. They’ve always been hardworking – and this is no exaggeration. As children they had to earn their keep. My mom talks about going to “camp” every summer in Cuba to work in the fields because it was law. Everyone in their family contributed to their income: sewing, knitting, etc. My dad seldom speaks of his childhood, but I’m pretty sure he had it rough, too. They had to figure things out when all was taken from them, including their freedom.
They met in their late teens/early 20s. My dad was persistent, won my mom over, and they were married. You’ve probably seen a few of their wedding photos because I love publicizing them on Instagram. They are beautiful.
My parents agreed that my dad would escape, make a life for them in America, and await my mother’s release. The first time my dad tried escaping was with a few friends. One of them had trouble swimming, and to keep him from drowning, they treaded water until dawn, when they were caught and thrown into “political prison” – basically a work camp.
The second time my dad planned his escape he was still in prison, and he went alone. He bought a pair of black market flippers, took a bus to visit my mom, and never returned. He left in the wee hours of the night. To dodge the patrol ships he had to stay underwater for long periods of time, and then there was the threat of sharks.
Five hours later, a U.S. naval ship picked him up. I’m not sure of the details, but the quick version is they gave him a change of clothing, $20, and sent him to America.
My dad worked several jobs, including being a custodian, until he was able to pay for schooling. He and my mom were apart for several years, their only communication was via the letters they wrote back and forth.
When my mom’s family was finally released from Cuba, 8 years later, they migrated to Spain. Eventually my parents were reunited and my mom immediately got to work. She enrolled in English classes, as well as some medical assistant classes later on. I remember being very little, waiting for my mom to get out of class. Sandy, my dad, and I would wait in his car, music playing, hanging out the sunroof, and being so excited to see her finally walk up.
Because of their hard work, I have been able to see the world. Some of my fondest memories are from our lives in Saudi Arabia, my childhood trips to Europe, road trips to Florida, and growing up between. [This may explain my constant wanderlust!]
I am an incredibly grateful and appreciative person. My parents have raised me well, and they’ve raised me to be thankful: thankful I was born in America, thankful to have my family nearby, and appreciative of the chance to earn a higher education.
My family has made me strong. My family has made me intelligent. My family has made me
stubborn persistent. My family has given me the opportunity to be anything I want to be. And for that I am eternally grateful. Happy birthday, dad. 🙂
p.s. Sorry if I got some of the details mixed up!