The other day, Val at Babalu linked to an interview with one of the grand ladies of Cuban song, Olga Guillot. Listening was a bittersweet experience for me, as the people who introduced me to Olga in the form of a "longplain," my parents, are no longer around. Olga's very Cuban speech evoked my very real sense of loss.
I've lost much in the past few years, whether the last vestiges of youth, or the daughter who followed her dream out to the West Coast. The loss of my mother, painful as it still is, signalled yet another loss. My house, which for decades rang with the sounds of family- the loudest, Cuban- is strangely silent. And if you can be said to rattle around in four rooms, I do so. There is no one to cook for, no one to take care of, no one with whom to speak Spanish in a natural, spontaneous way. There is no one to bathe my kitchen within a three foot radius of the stove in oil from cooking masitas de puerco.
You see, I not only lost my mother, but I lost a part of myself. As a child, growing up in a world which judged me and mine, I hated being different. I thought there would be nothing better in the world than to be named Holly or something equally Anglo, to have parents with freckles who didn't think the Girl Scouts were a potentially life-threatening organization (something about lakes) and who didn't roll their r's. And now, here I am in white bread Sarasota, just about the entire older generation gone, my contemporaries like me, more comfortable in English, and terribly diminished. I have no more immediate Cuban ties, other than those to the relatives left behind. In a weird irony, I have realized a childhood dream only to find it is more of a pesadilla* from which I will not wake up and be comforted by Mami.
*bad dream, not quite as dramatic as a nightmare.