Roots and Remembrances

Editor’s note: My mother and aunt left Cuba in 1957 when they were 14 and 11. The guerrillas were in the hills in Oriente Province when my family left. My mom and aunt returned to their hometown on the eastern side of the island last month for the first time. This is my mom’s recount.

My mom and Tia, Banes, Cuba

My father, God bless him, did the best thing for all his children when he took us out of Banes in 1957. I was 14-years-old, but all these years Banes was always in my mind and heart.

I don’t have another 53 years to wait to go back.

As the plane was flying over Holguin I had tears rolling down. This is the country where my soul became a being, where family I never saw again are resting in peace. When we drove to Banes, all my childhood memories came back. I so enjoyed walking the street, going to my old school, to the little church.

I walked into the church on Sunday morning and told a few people there who I am and about my family and what that church meant to me as a child. Abuelo Santiago and Tita Elina used to take me there and Tio Luis would ring the bells to let everyone know services were ready to start. I don’t have to tell you how much I cried.

The few friends I have left there were loving. It was like one of your own coming back. To my surprise old neighbors remember us.

Now, I am trying to tell my mind to keep those all memories of long ago. The Banes I saw a few days ago is not the Banes of my childhood. Nothing stays the same, that I know. But due to circumstance the Banes of my heart is gone.

I thank God for giving me the chance to go back at this time in my life. I am blessed with good health, I am Home and at peace. This  great Country gave me a blessed life. I will always remember this trip with nostalgia and with sadness but also glad I made it.

Maybe some day, when my nietas get older, I will tell them a story of Once Upon a Time there was a town called Banes where their abuela and their ancestors were born —  a beautiful place with palm trees, blue sky, where stars shine brighter than any other place, where the sea is as blue as the sky. Maybe some day when abuela is long gone, and things change,  they will be able to walk the same streets, and find their roots and create their own memories.

And a final editor’s note. When I visited Cuba in 1996, I went to my mother’s hometown and to the beautiful Guardalavaca beach. My husband took the picture of me, below. When my mom was there last month, she had my aunt shoot her in the same pose….and now, the two will be framed side by side. Maybe one day, we’ll take the photo there together.

Me, Guardlavaca, Cuba, 1996

My mom, Guardalavaca, Cuba, 2010

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By Carrie on June 1, 2010 · Posted in featured, the habla habla

10 Comments | Post Comment

Boni says:

Carrie,

What an amazing journey for your mom. I can feel her love through her words. I especially love your two pictures and hope one day you both can do that pose together perhaps with her grandchildren as well. This was a very special and personal post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Boni

Posted on June 1st, 2010

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tiki Tiki Blog, Yolanda. Yolanda said: RT @carriefweir: My mom returned to her hometown in Cuba for the first time in 53 years. Her recount on my blog. http://ow.ly/1Ss4k [...]

Posted on June 1st, 2010

Raul Ramos y Sanchez says:

Only exiles ever taste the bittersweet joy of return.

Saludos to your familia,
Raul

Posted on June 1st, 2010

Unknown Mami says:

This post really tugged on my heartstrings. I’m glad your mother got to go back.
.-= Unknown Mami´s last blog ..Cruisin’ for Daddies =-.

Posted on June 1st, 2010

Mama Contemporanea says:

Beautiful post, really touch my heart. As a venezuelan I know how she feels and how sad is leaving your country when you don’t like the government and their ideas.

Posted on June 2nd, 2010

Sra. López says:

This brought tears to me eyes. Thank you for sharing it. I hope that things will change long before “abuela is long gone”, and that you, your daughter and your nietas can someday visit together.

Posted on June 2nd, 2010

Marta says:

I got choked up reading your mom’s account, but it was the matching celebratory pictures that opened the floodgates.

Que memoria mas linda.
.-= Marta´s last blog ..MY Que Rica Vida – or Orange is the New Black =-.

Posted on June 2nd, 2010

Marcela says:

I have tears. So beautiful. I feel her words.
The pictures are perfect. Hope you guys can do it together one day.

Posted on June 3rd, 2010

Carrie says:

Thank you all for reading Mami’s essay. I know it means a lot to her.

Viva Cuba, Libre!

Posted on June 4th, 2010

Miriam says:

Gracias a todos, thank you so much.

Posted on June 4th, 2010