Friday, August 21, 2009

Meanderings: Losses of All Kinds

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.

6 comments:

Val Prieto said...

Cono, Ruth, aqui nos tienes pa'hablar to'el espanol que quieras.

Dimelo cantando y de medio la'o.

rsnlk said...

Gracias, compay.

Melek said...

Great post Ruth!

I'm sure your mother (RIP) is very much alive in your heart and proud of you!

My parents fled Castro's Cuba when I was only 4 yrs. old. Unlike that which's preached on behalf of Cuba's regime ... we were not wealthy, we were part of a thriving and strong middle class ... my father, a son of immigrants in Cuba, and my mother had the courage to leave everything familiar (including family & friends) for the foreign in this great USA ... but with the certainty that their daughters would be able to live and grow in freedom! My father died when I was only 16 yrs old ... but I know he has been there with me every step and not a day goes by in which I don't say, do or think about something I learned from him ... as we become older some of that nostalgia kicks in ... and thanks to this wonderful technology ... we find ways to remind us and stay in touch with the important things, places & people that have shaped and made us who we are today!

Thanks for bringing some of these great memories to mind! And like Val stated ... tambien cuenta conmigo ...

I wish you well :) Melek


"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place ... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." ~ Emerson

tagskie said...

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Sharpshooter said...

Ruth,
You brought a tear to my eye with this posting. I left Cuba when I was 16 in October of 1960 and settled in N.Y, in Brooklyn Heights to be exact. Lived there for over 18 years and then moved to OK where I lived for 28 years. MArried an Amercan woman and had 2 children who do not speak any Spanish because their mother never wanted to learn. At the time I moved to OK there was almost no one with whom I could speak Spanish except when my mother made her twice a year visits or during the phone calls with her. I understand your nostalgia for that special Cuban sound around the kitchen. Now late in life, I am happily married to a Cuban lady who speaks Spanish to me all day long. And luckily for me, she got me in touch again with my Cuban roots. I thank God for that everyday. God bless you and keep up the good work.
BTW, try to give up smoking, it is not good for you and is now very expensive!.I did after 45 years of smoking. LOL.

rsnlk said...

Workin' on it, Sharpshooter. Thanks for all the beautiful comments.