October 4, 1926 – June 22, 2015
“Vale,” Dad’s voice came through a little shaky over the phone. “Are you very busy today? Your Mom is driving me crazy and I need some help.”
Mom had been having serious bouts of dementia and Dad himself wasn’t feeling all that great. “I’m not that busy today, Papi. I’ll swing by around lunch time.”
His voice perked up a bit. “Gracias, mijo.”
It would be my very last telephone conversation with my father.
I finished up some paperwork, replied to a couple of emails and rescheduled my afternoon appointment. Now, in retrospect, I realize I should have been happy that Id get to spend an afternoon with Mom and Dad, but the truth is, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Dad was in a lot of pain. His back and hips were causing him all kinds of hurt and he was very frail. It was difficult to see Dad, the big, strong ox, so weak, so thin, so helpless. Mom wasn’t doing so well either and adding to that was the dementia, which had gotten progressively worse in recent months.
I called Dad back as I left the office. “Did you two already have lunch?”
Dad said he’d had a little something but Mom hadn’t eaten. “Your Mom says she is going to cook. Chicharos.”
It had been months if not years since mom had taken to the kitchen and while I welcomed a steaming bowl of Mom’s chicharos, you never know how the food a person with dementia cooks will turn out. “I’ll swing by the Latin Cafe,” I told him. “pick up a couple media noches and for you a Latin 2000. It’s like a Cuban sandwich but with chorizo.”
“Ok,”he replied. “Sounds good.” You could never have too much food, according to Dad.
When I got to Mom and Dad’s, sandwiches in hand, Mom was in the front the front porch, staring out the window. “I thought you were your Dad,” she said. “he still isnt back from work.”
Mom thought Dad, who was sitting in his recliner watching tv, was Dad’s Dad. “Your father left me with the old man,” she told me. “And he looks ill.”
Dad and I laughed through the sadness about it. “She’s been like that since yesterday,” he said. “Driving me nuts.”
I broke out the sandwiches even though Dad said he wasnt all that hungry. I knew once he saw the chorizo, he’d eat. And he did. “Este sandwich esta empigau,” he said. “Dont eat the other half. I want it for later.”
Mom was tinkering around in the kitchen, searching in all the wrong places for everything she’d need to make the chicharos. She’s lived in this house over thirty years, cooked 2 or 3 squares a day, every day and couldnt even remember where she her pots or pans, her spices, spoons or anything else.
For the very first time in my life, at the age of 49, I helped Mom cook chicharos. The very same chicharos she’d pour over my head when Id refuse to eat them as a kid.
Dad napped most of the day while I chased after Mom. She kept pacing back and forth, going out to the front porch, bitching and moaning that Dad was late from work and he wasnt answering his phone and he was supposed to be home already and what if something happened and maybe I should go look for him. To say that witnessing this, living this, is heartbreaking is an overwhelming understatement.
I could not imagine what it must have felt for my Dad to live through this. To see his wife of 60 years mentally deteriorate to such an extent and he not be able to do anything for her. Dad could barely stand, he could hardly walk and for a man like my father, who spent his life protecting and providing and caring for his family, it must have been relentlessly devastating. The weight of the world on his shoulders.
Mom returned from one of her forays to the porch and suddenly recognized Dad. “When did you get home,” she asked. “we’ve all been waiting for you.”
Luckily or as I like to think by design, the dementia had given mom a short reprieve in the late afternoon and she went and sat next to Dad. She cupped his face in her hands, combed his white whisps back behind his ears and kissed his big hands. I could tell Dad was fighting back the tears but for those fleeting moments, they were so happy to see each other again.
“Coso,” Mom whispered to Dad. “I made you chicharos. Do you want a bowl?”
Dad said he thought she’d never asked. “the aroma was making me hungry.”
I helped Mom find his tray, set it up and serve him a bowl of chicharos that Mom and I made. Dad savored every bite and asked for a little more. “Este potaje esta de competencia.”
A couple hours later, Dad would have a pulmonary embolism, we would call 911 and Fire Rescue would take him to the ER.
He would never see his home again.
All major news outlets are reporting that Alan Gross has been released from prison with few details, except for that bastion of communist propaganda that is CNN:
Washington (CNN) — U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.
President Obama is expected to announce Gross’ release at noon.
Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.
So the Obama administration traded 3 spies implicated in the murder of US citizens for a humanitarian worker and an “unknown” intelligence source. Because bowing to communists and terrorists is what Obama and his cohorts do best.
This is a major setback for the opposition and dissident movements in Cuba. The Obama administration, by making this “deal”, has confirmed that they are OK with the repression, brutality, incarceration, and murder the castro regime foists upon the opposition. And I will once again say what I have been saying since day one of this farce of a presidential administration, for the record: faced with the fact that he is, by far, the worst President this nation has ever seen, and with no true positive legacy, Obama is relying on the low hanging fruit of the Cuban embargo to placate the left. Look for President Executive Action to undermine codified US Cuba policy.
Obama is set to speak on this at noon today. Listen as the president tramples upon the rule of law, justice, the Cuban-American community and freedom loving Cubans on the island.
Update: Statement from Capital Hill Cubans:
For over five years, the Castro dictatorship has held American development worker, Alan Gross, as its hostage for helping the Cuban people connect to the Internet.
This shows the cruel extent to which the Castro dictatorship is willing to go in order to try to silence its own people.
With Gross’ hostage-taking, the Castro dictatorship has sought to coerce the Obama Administration into releasing Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States and to unilaterally ease sanctions.
Today, this innocent American, who should have never been imprisoned in the first place, is returning home to his wife and daughters.
But sadly, rather than being released unconditionally, the Obama Administration has acquiesced to the Castro regime’s coercion.
While we are relieved at the release of this American hostage today, there are 11 million Cubans that remain hostages of Castro’s brutal regime. Moreover, repression in Cuba today is at a historic high.
In exchange for Gross’ release, the Obama Administration will announce the release of three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States for crimes, including a conspiracy to kill Americans.
Today, our hearts go out to the families of those young Americans, the pilots of the Brothers to the Rescue planes disintegrated in international waters by Cuban MIGs, who were murdered by the Castro regime with the help of these Cuban spies.
The Obama Administration will additionally announce that it will use its executive authority to ease a set of U.S. sanctions — also in exchange for Gross’ release.
As a result of these actions, the world today will be less safe.
Rogue regimes throughout the world will take note that you can take American hostages and will be rewarded with policy concessions.
Moreover, that rogue regimes can murder Americans, have U.S. courts and juries duly convict those involved — and see justice aborted by a stroke of the President’s pen.
UPDATE: Just as a stark reminder, here is the audio of the downing of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots, which the 3 Cuban spies being released are complicit in.
Update: DatechGuy is succinct:
Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights be damned.
UPDATE:During Obama’s remarks – which I confess I could barely stomach – he had the audacity of quoting Jose Marti. Yet with one glaring omission:
Obama stated “Liberty if the right of every man to be honest”
He left out the most important part:
“Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, TO THINK AND SPEAK WITHOUT HYPOCRISY.”
Sometimes, what’s not said is what rings loudest.
JOIN US TONIGHT!
What: Come out tonight to show solidarity with members of the Cuban opposition visiting Miami!
Where: FIU Law School, 11200 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199
John O’Donnell Rosales, Piki as we all affectionately called him, my cousin, passed away yesterday afternoon following a heart attack. It is an immeasurable loss for our family.
He was the most energetic person I’ve ever met with an incredible love of life and family and who always faced the world with eyes wide open. He was smart as a whip, would be the first one there fighting against any injustice, and wasn’t just a steadfast Patriot and son of America, but a believer and fighter for the freedom of Cuba and her people.
He not only traced our family back for generations and generations but always kept his thumb on our family’s pulse and was always the first with a kind word or gesture, a congratulation or a sincere condolence. Piki was, truly, the absolute best our family had to offer.
Rest in peace, Primo. You’re in good company now.
From our friend Michael J. Totten, at World Affairs:
Vietnam’s communists are a hell of a lot smarter than Cuba’s.
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, thunders with economic productivity and bristles with new construction while most of Cuba’s capital Havana resembles a post-apocalyptic ruinscape.
While civilized countries have a minimum wage, Cuba has a maximum wage of twenty dollars per month for almost every job in the country. A beer costs an entire week’s salary and a meal out in a restaurants costs a month’s, so drinking and dining establishments are almost strictly for foreigners. In Hanoi, though, you can’t walk a block without passing restaurants, bars, cafes, and food stalls packed from one wall to its opposite with local patrons.
Vietnam’s middle class travels on motorbikes for the most part rather than in cars, but in the 1970s almost everyone got around on a bicycle. Cuba hasn’t even reached the bicycle stage yet. Its streets and highways are more bereft of traffic than anywhere in the world except North Korea.
We had some major discussions here some years ago when the Bush Administration tightened the Cuba travel rules to once every three years. One guy in particular made great arguments, tugged at our heart strings by telling us how he was the only relative who could help his old, sick and frail grandmother in Cuba by traveling to the island to see her, take her meds and other necessities, and so on and so forth. I felt bad for the guy and reiterated what Ive said all along vis a vis Cuba travel: I am no one to tell anyone not to visit their family in Cuba.
“Coño,” we all thought. “El pobre.”
The “Oh poor guy” didnt last very long, tho, as a little Googling found pictures of him frolicking with jineteras – Cuban prostitutes – in Havana. It wasn’t just grandma he was comforting it seems.
Cuba travel is back in the news this week – as it always is during elections – with Ear Wax Joe Garcia advocating even more loosening of travel restrictions. The argument, of course, is those poor, poor family members:
“No one should have to choose between visiting a sick parent or going to their funeral because their own government denies them the right to travel…
The above is, of course, an outright falsehood. There are myriad humanitarian visas that allow for the visiting of sick relatives or the attending of funerals.
Truth be told, most travel to Cuba isnt humanitarian nowadays although you wont find any mention of this reality in the media as it doesnt fit the narrative. Today, most Cubans living here go back to the island to vacilar, have a good time. Vacation in Varadero or an all inclusive resort. Pa’ templar. To throw a fifteens party for their niece and show off just how rich they are in La Yuma. Go to the Miami to Havana terminal at MIA and youll see what I’m talking about.
It’s shameful. It’s a disgrace. Es un relajo.
Being allowed to stay in this country is a privilege, not an “advantage” as Joe Garcia puts it. And exploiting this privilege is dishonest and opprobrious.
The Young American’s Foundation is exposing the truth about che guevara at University campuses nationwide:
Che Guevara was an international terrorist and mass murderer. During his vicious campaigns to impose Communism on countries throughout Latin America, Che Guevara trained and motivated the Castro regime’s firing squads that executed thousands of men, women, and children.
For decades, the Left tried to glorify murderers and thugs like Lenin, Mao, and even Stalin. They are discredited today because people know about their evil deeds. Che is more obscure. He is one notorious figure who is idolized by the Left and hailed as a “hero,” yet most students never learn the truth about his cult of violence.
Use the anniversary of Che’s death on October 9 to educate the campus community about Che’s atrocities.
Young America’s Foundation can provide you with free copies of our “Victims of Che Guevara” poster and the downloadable fliers below.
Read more right here.
In honor of Fathers’ Day and in loving memory of Jesus Prieto, this post will remain on top all day today. Please scroll down for newer posts.
Today is my first Father’s Day without my old man being with us and I was going to write about and share my last moments with Dad but I decided against it. I want to be selfish with those moments for just a while longer and prefer to offer you all the following:
Spend as much time with your dad as you can. Listen to his stories. Let him complain about anything he wants to complain about. Watch a ballgame with him. Let him beat you at dominoes. Revel in his boasting about his grandchildren. Bring him his favorite dessert and let him eat as much as he wants. Tell him about your day. Listen to him bitch and moan about the government. Take him fishing. See your own hands in his. Understand the lifelong sacrifices hidden in his eyes. Thank him for everything. Appreciate him in his entirety. Square away any arguments.
Tell your old man everything you ever wanted to tell him. Dad, I love you. Dad, thank you for your hard work and sacrifices. Dad, thank you for believing in me. Dad, thanks for setting me straight when I was so wrong. Dad, thank you for your support. Dad, thank you for teaching me how to ride a bike. I promise, Dad, to strive to be the person you worked so hard and so long to shape. Dad, you’re my hero.
Happy Father’s Day to all!
Hilda Caballero Diaz-Balart passed away the afternoon of September 11, 2013 in Miami. She was born in the Stewart Sugar Mill in the province of Camaguey, Cuba on November 18, 1924.
Hilda was the mother of Rafael, Lincoln, Jose and Mario Diaz-Balart and the grandmother of Anna Maria, Rafael Jr., Lincoln Gabriel, Daniel, Katrina, Cristian and Sabrina Diaz-Balart.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be held in her memory on Friday, September 13 at 2:00PM at St. Peter & Paul Church, located at 900 SW 26 Road in Miami, Florida.
Our heartfelt condolences to the Diaz-Balart family.
This post will remain on top all day. Please scroll down for other stories.
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