On a day like today

Eighty-two years ago today, a baby girl with jet-black hair and crystalline green eyes was born to a young couple in the province of Pinar del Rio in a small farming town called Herradura. Little did these proud parents know that thirty-five years later their little girl would be embarking with her own two children on a dangerous and onerous voyage to escape the tyranny that had gripped their homeland.
Landing in Kingston, Jamaica, without a penny, it took the generosity of a stranger who approached her at the airport—a Good Samaritan and a Cuban whom she had never met before—to give her enough cab fare to get her and her two young children to the YMCA for shelter. The next morning, she called her anxious husband in Miami who awaited news of their escape. Days later, this young woman with the jet-black hair and the crystalline green eyes was on a plane to Miami to reunite with her husband and to reunite a family that had been apart for more than a year.
When I think of what this woman did, of how she mustered the courage to embark on her own with two small children and leave all she knew behind so that they could grow up in freedom, I cannot help but to feel awe. She was not the only one in Cuba who showed the valor and determination to protect their family; there were tens of thousands just like her that exhibited the same and even more courage. But this woman in particular, the one with the jet-black hair and the crystalline green eyes, was special. She was special because this woman is my mother.
Feliz cumpleaños, mami. No hay palabras que pudieran describir lo tanto que te quiero, y lo tanto que agradezco todo lo que has hecho por nosotros. Hoy es un día especial porque significa el día que nació para mi nada menos que una heroína.

12 thoughts on “On a day like today”

  1. Health & happiness to your mother, Alberto! What a blessing … 82 yrs. old!
    I wish you well 🙂 Melek
    “To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.” ~ T. B. Aldrich

  2. I find it particularly moving this woman’s son is so aware of and grateful for her courage and heroism.
    Felicidades to your amazing mother, Alberto!

  3. We lived in Kingston, Jamaica from March 1961 ’til Oct. 1963, we found our way there by pure chance, after having arrived in Miami on Oct. 1960.
    My father, a textile engineer and (ex)President of Fabrica Cubana de Tejidos, “FACUTE”, bumped into the owner of Ariguanabo Company of Jamaica, a subsidiary of Ariguanabo in Cuba, Mr. James Hedges, at the Miami Int. Airport.
    Ariguanabo in Jamaica was going through very hard times since the confiscation of it’s parent company in Cuba, my father was offered a job to assist in running the mill in Jamaica and since we were at the end of our rope financially he took it.
    Once there and after finding out that Jamaica had become a back door for Cubans to escape, either via regular commercial flights or by boat, he made it a point to visit Father Rupper and the refugee center at the YMCA, offering assistance to the (our) people there.
    We had a large house at 34 Grosvenor Terrace, just outside of Kingston where we many times had as many as 10 Cubans from the Y having dinner, and even staying at our house with us, my father many times also took our fellow country men and women out for sightseeing drives on Saturdays and Sundays.
    Cubans were sleeping on the floor and atop tables at Y, food was not all that good, this might not seem a big deal now, but we saw grown men and women cry for days on end, Jamaica was not the most friendly place for Cubans fleeing Castro, it was like having landed in Kenya or Zambia, a cultural shock in many ways.
    My father Jesus Mesegue, passed away last March at age 86, a contemporary of you mother, perhaps they crossed paths almost 47 years ago.
    People like them are not easy to find nowadays.

  4. Best wishes to your Mother on her Birthday. She is a woman
    of valor and great courage. God Bless Her today and this
    coming Mother’s Day.

  5. My own mother recently turned 82, and she was also instrumental in getting my family out of the Castro hellhole. She did it for her kids, nothing else. I never forget what it cost my parents to save their children, and I’m not even talking about material losses. That’s one reason it makes me much more than upset when some A-hole like Ana Menendez (sic) dares to say one word against my parents’ generation, when she herself is not good enough to lick ther dirt off their shoes.

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