My Aunt, circa 1946
As my dad's older sister (she was in her 70s), she made sure to wait until the day after her little brother's birthday to make her departure out of this world. She was definitely the one in charge in the sister-brother relationship, demanding respect from her little brother.
I only met her a few times - three, to be exact. Most would say that is really sad, to only meet your aunt three times, but when your relatives live in Cuba and you live in the States, three times is really a lot.
I have always been very intrigued with my relationship with my relatives. The majority of them are in Cuba, but I have met all of them on my various trips to the island. Stories about them are etched in my brain, making me feel like I grew up with them right in my dining room, sharing Sunday dinner.
The last time I saw my aunt, in 1998, I was already a woman. The previous times I had spent time with her, I was a kid - 11 years old one time, 15 years old another. During my last visit with her, I learned more about her. She was definitely a wise one, having built her house in Cuba, providing for her daughter and granddaughter, and knowing how to make ends meet in a country where making ends meet can be extremely taxing. While she was an old-timer, she taught me to be independent and work hard for myself and my family. I carry a lot of her teachings with me as I approach my new marriage and life.
The last time I saw my Aunt, 1998
I am saddened knowing that I can't be there to bury her. It's disheartening to know that my family in Cuba, who live relatively close in proximity, are so far beyond my reach because of politics. I wish I could be with my family in Cuba right now, if only for the comfort of knowing that we have eachother. Ideally, we could celebrate and honor my aunt's life together. But because of the politics, we have to mourn in the solitude of our homes, without the comfort of our families.