My mother, uncles and grandparents emigrated from Cuba in August of 1962… They never returned. My grandmother would talk about life in Cuba in the 1950’s with such descriptive detail. She would talk about where she lived, where she went, what she did. She always did… Even when the dementia took her mind, she would remember the street she lived in, which was Gonzalo de Quesada in Jaguey Grande, in the Province of Matanzas in Cuba.
Once a year in Miami, there’s a cultural exhibition called Cuba Nostalgia, it brings back a sense of the old Cuba my Yaya would talk about so fondly. The Cuba I would never see, but in the scant pictures she was able to salvage and through her vivid descriptions.
My Grandparents, Mom & Uncles… Circa 1958
This year, thanks to my friends at Santayana Jewelers http://santayana.com/, I got to bask in Cuban Bling!!! They designed some amazing pieces that are very true to the Cubanity that a lot of us that are children of exiles have. I tried on the ‘Cafetera Ring’ and the ‘Caja China Ring’. Let me explain the 2… Lets take the ‘Cafetera Ring’, one thing that brings people together is a cafecito, which littlerally translates into little coffee. It may look like the italian espresso, but it’s not. The sugar is integrated into it right after brewing and if made by hand (like I do it) you have an amazing foam made by sugar. Friends get together over cafecito to catch up. When a single girl makes good cafecito, it is said that she’s ready to get married, for Cubans that’s the marriage litmus test. Now for the ‘Caja China Ring’, in every Cuban celebration, there’s one thing that you serve – PORK. And where do you cook the pork??? In a caja china of course (http://www.lacajachina.com/). Both the Cafetera and the Caja China were perfectly done in silver.
As an American of Cuban decent, I feel that I belong to two cultures… I can make great burgers that are followed up by a mean cafecito, trust me that my cafecito has a cult-like following. It’s nice to feel that I can relate to a place that I’ve never been to, but feel like it is also home.
This morning I participated in the March of Dimes March for Babies, it was a gloomy day, the rain threatened, but held out to ensure the walk took place. This walk took a new meaning two years ago, when one of my best friends lost her baby girl, Alessandra due to premature birth.
I can still remember the excitement when we were all celebrating the pregnancy & the upcoming arrival of a new little person in all our lives. I need to explain that some of my childhood friends have stopped being my friends, and have become family. I’m Tia Lori to all of their kids and I consider them extensions of me… So when my friend’s water broke on Christmas Eve 2009 we all were on pins and needles. I remember I even took a cake to the hospital on December 28th to Celebrate my friend’s birthday… Then on December 29th, Alessandra was born, way too early… She was with us for a brief time but somehow she will always be with us. I will never forget the sadness on my friend’s face when I went to see her at the hospital, at that moment I wish there was something I could do to make it all go away. But it was way beyond what I could control. So now I walk…
Every day a baby is born to early… Some thrive, others don’t… Please help me help the March of Dimes
My heart broke on October 3, 2011… It broke in a way I thought it would never break, even thought I knew one day it would. My heart broke. On October 3rd, my beloved grandmother who I lovingly called Yaya left this earth. My heart broke.
We had a bond beyond that of a grandmother and grandchild, she became my mother when my mother, her daughter passed away in January 1980. It was always us. The two of us. Everywhere, for everything. We were so close. She enabled me to have such a wonderful life growing up, I had so much LOVE. Yes I had a lot of material things, but most importantly I had LOVE.
With my birthday approaching… I’ve been off for the past couple of weeks… Couldn’t figure out why… Yes I’m a year older, so what? Then it hit me, this is the first time that Yaya won’t be here for my birthday. ***(Will post later about Yaya’s dementia and how she wasn’t always mentally here for the past 10 years or so).
My heart is broken… But someday it will mend… Until then, when it comes back together, it’s still broken…