Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Wonder What Life Would Have Been Like.....

Do you ever ponder that?  "I wonder what my life would have been like.....if _________"?  For the most part I don't, however, every so often I do wonder.  This past weekend with the 4th of July and family get togethers, my aunt had a PBS documentary on DVD about Cuba and it's music.  (In case you all forgot my family is Cuban and my cousins and I happen to be 1st generation born outside of Cuba...which means most of my family happen to be immigrants) 

Well as we start watching this DVD, it invokes nostalgia for the older folks and of course I get drawn into the whole family culture and stories.  Even my dad was pretend dancing with Tigger (if you know our family you'll know this is funny because our particular denomination isn't fond of dancing in general) At one point my mother was wistful and stated "It's too bad that Castro ended up the way he did, can you imagine if we could have stayed and had a nice life with the music and beautiful countryside/beaches etc."? Then she went on to say what she missed about the good times before the country really got bad under Castro. 

Of course our family is happy to be here in the USA.  It gave my family freedom.....politics, religion, education, free speech, none of that is taken for granted in our family.  I love my small townhouse, I love that my parents could come from having $200 dollars in the bank when they got married til now where they own a home and we have a comfortable life.  But I also wonder what life might have been if people didn't feel the need to leave the country of our origin?  Where would we be now?  Cubans have pride in their culture and in their past....we recite poetry and we play music....and many of the older folks sometimes still talk about "the past" as if maybe we'll acheive it one day.  The reality is, we won't. But it is nice to talk about it and remember and listen to our parent's stories. 

I had a co-worker (she retired) that is also Cuban and she was one of the original kids that came into the USA after Castro....during operation Pedro Pan in the early '60s.  That was the first wave.  My parents did not come through this method, but after the freedom flights were negotiated in '65, both families (obviously my parents didn't know each other then) put in for visa's to leave under the freedom flights.  It took until '69 for both my parents to leave the country. 

My dad came by himself at 14 years of age....that was a miracle, if he would have been 15 he would have had to go to the military (mandatory) and wouldn't have been able to leave....his plane went to Spain where he was taken in by a Seventh Day Adventist family for a while before being able to come to New Jersey to live with an aunt.  Luckily for him, his dad, my grandfather was able to come out to Puerto after that happened he stayed the school years with his dad and then spent the summers with his aunt in New Jersey.

My mother's family was also very fortunate that all of their names were called to leave at the same time....many families were split during these times.  Leaving with only the clothes they had, my grandmother had a brother that resided in New Jersey and so that is where they were sent.  And that is the state where my parent's met. 

Before my mother's family left, my mom's uncle...another brother of my grandmother's came to visit and scowl at them.  He had joined the ranks of the Revolution and was a high official in Castro's regime.  His visit was mainly to flaunt his power over whether or not they could leave, and then if their minds were made up, he exclaimed that they as a family were dead to him. 

My parents have interesting stories.  Bizarre stories.  Sad stories.  Some of them like my dad and aunt (mom's sister) want to go back to Cuba to visit and to reminice....other's like my mom just can't fathom going back there...she will get nostalgic, but is apprehensive about going.  My aunt and her were going to go...after my grandmother's death in '09 my aunt really wanted to go just for closure....but my mom couldn't continue plans to go, she just wasn't sure there wouldn't be a problem and she wouldn't be able to come back....she has that fear. 

Anyways why is this on my blog?  It has nothing to do with raising Tigger nor it has anything to do with adoption....well.....does it? 

As I was thinking about Cuba this weekend and my parent's past, it dawned on me that someone may understand this line of thinking, however, when a person that was adopted starts questioning where they come from and talks of searching and going into reunion start....there are all sorts of judgements made about people.  Why are they searching....aren't they happy with the life they had?  Don't they love their [adoptive] parents? 

Why do we ask these questions of individuals?  Do you think I or my family love the USA any less just because we wonder what life would have been like if our families didn't have to leave Cuba?  Are we less patriotic on the 4th of July because we chat, play dominos, and talk about Cuba pre-Castro?  I don't think so.....and so I venture to guess that adult adoptees or younger teens that question about their origins, families have a natural curiosity and wonder about what "that life might have been like" doesn't make them think less of their current family does it?  I would argue NO.  My hope is that when Tigger is older, that these experiences with family like this past weekend remind me and make me sympathetic and have true understanding of why this is important, during times of questions and if there are searches made.

Since it is a post about my family's era I thought I'd throw in a few youtube exerpts....the first two are short and the last one is a decent report they did on 3 or 4 operation pedro pan children (now all grown up)  It's really interesting, the report is in 5 segments so longer than my first 2 exerpts.


This is the report.  It's in 5 segments....after the first segment is finished you can click on 2/5, then 3/5 etc.  I do caution that if you have little people in the room, the second segment has images of the firing squad so please advise.


cb said...

Good post Dannie, and what an interesting history you have :)

Laura said...

I would probably be picking potatoes in Ireland. One for the basket, one for my pocket. I loves me some fried taters.