Letter: Article about Cuba brought back Dad’s stories of home

To the Editor:

Thanks to Lisa Bull DiLullo for sharing her trip to Cuba with the Milford community.

My father was born in Cuba to an American father and Cuban mother. My grandfather wanted his son educated in the states, where he came from, so my father was sent to boarding school at the age of seven to Concord, Mass.

He came home to the "farm" (40 acres of land) for the summer and shared stories of riding horses, raising cattle and growing everything they ate. Dad and his sisters were already attending school in the Boston area when the Castro revolution took place. My grandmother smuggled her wedding ring in a sanitary pad. She lived without her husband for over 10 years in a country where she knew neither the language nor culture.

In later years, she was reunited with her sisters and brothers who found a life in America. My grandfather missed graduations, weddings and the birth of grandchildren and his children grew up without him. Finally, he gave up trying to wait out the revolution and was smuggled out of Cuba in 1965.

He held on to the deed to "his land" thinking he would return to their home. When my son was in elementary school, he'd have the assignment of what's your heritage? Lisa captured many of the things I imagined of the people and culture. As kids, we all wanted to go back to Cuba with Dad so we could see it through his eyes, but he never had that desire. Too much had changed, and I don't know if that brought sadness to him. He'd point to the map of the island and say "this is where I was born,” but it’s not called that anymore.

As Dad got older, he did become more "Cuban" and ate more black beans, chicken and yellow rice. Stories of the farm would start to flow over the meal.

I've met lots of Cubans in Connecticut who have similar stories of leaving all behind, burying their jewels/silver by a tree thinking they would be back to resume life there again. Until you have walked this "new life" America offers, do we really know what, where or how someone has lived.

I am reminded of the story my father tells landing at Logan Airport. The temperature is 55 degrees and he thinks his ears are going to freeze off.  As Lisa says, Cuba is a "place of rich community relationships, and complex history, and a determined people that has faced generations of economic scarcity.”

How different from any of the other countries we read about in today's "revolutions"? Again, my thanks for sharing the "color" of Cuba to this community and reuniting me with Dad's stories of "home.”

Sylvia Allen Hazard