62 years in exile: A bittersweet anniversary

My American parents, Louis and Norma Chait, their sons Philip and Eric, their dog Victor, at 7901 SW 20th Street, Miami, in late April 1962

From our Bureau of Deaths and Rebirths

Today is my second birthday. It was exactly sixty-two years ago that I left Cuba, which is the same thing as leaving Hell. During that 45-minute flight from Havana to Miami, I died and was reborn. So, this day means as much to me as the day my mom gave birth to me. No photos were taken during my second birthday, so all the images are in my head, invisible to others. Below is my meditation on this day.

Every day, several times a day, I thank God and my parents for sending me to the U.S. Naturally, they didn’t expect my stint in exile to be permanent, but that’s what happened.

It’s a bittersweet anniversary. My family was torn apart, permanently. But I gained a new life.

Tres Fotutos dressed as a clown in 1953, with mom, dad, brother, at 2708 Calle 22, Miramar, Havana, Cuba

This year’s anniversary has a peculiar sting to it. It’s been 62 years since 1962. In my mind, it’s only 62 seconds. I have constant flashbacks to my life in Cuba, in my waking hours as well as in my dreams.

My mom and dad showed up in a dream a few nights ago. They were young. It was 1962 in my dream. And their presence in my dream seemed so real, so natural. Nothing weird about it. We were together again. My brother Tony was also in the dream, but dreams being what they are, his presence was nebulous. I knew he was there, but I didn’t see him. In the same weird way, I knew I was a child and an adult simultaneously.

April 6, 1962 was the last time I saw my father. Castro, Inc. made sure that he could never leave.

To say I died when I left Cuba is no exaggeration, not even by Cuban standards of exaggeration, which are epic. I gained freedom, along with a new language, new culture, and even new parents.

My American foster parents, Louis and Norma Chait, were wonderful people, exemplary souls. Every day I thank them too, in my mind and soul, for they are no longer on this earth. My uncle Amado and his wife Alejandra were also wonderful people and exemplary souls, and I owe them two of the happiest years of my life.

As for Cuba, that Hell on earth, it’s still there, but it might as well be another dimension, or a planet in another galaxy. I suspect I will never set foot there again, given my age and given the diabolical way in which Castro, Inc. manages to stay in power.

Sixty-two years that seem like sixty-two seconds. Lord have mercy. Thanks be to God.

Tres Fotutos, brother Tony, cousin Alejandra, uncle Amado, cousin Marisol, Funks Grove, Illinois, October 1963

3 thoughts on “62 years in exile: A bittersweet anniversary”

  1. Carlos, “Charles”
    Your brother Ricardo, “Richard” from another Cuban mother. Quite the anniversary, I understand. Mine and my brother’s is on the 21st, yep 62 years just like you. We were fortunate we left that day with our parents. Yes we were re-born.
    Ricardo, Richard y Rich

  2. I am now reading the third of Victor Triay’s trilogy about the life of the fictitious Leon family, whose two children are sent to Miami but end up in a not at all loving foster home in New York City.
    The three books are well worth reading..

Leave a Comment