Being a Cuban emigrant has given me the opportunity to see life in a different perspective, and to appreciate this country and the opportunities it has given my family.
My paternal grandparents came to the U.S. in the 1980’s. I will never forget how much pleasure they took out of small insignificant things.
After living in a communist country for so many years and getting by without the conveniences we take for granted.
It was difficult for my grandparents to understand that they wouldn’t run out of soap, shampoo or food, and that whenever they needed anything all they had to do was buy it at the grocery store.
My paternal grandmother loved sardines, but it had been so long since she’d eaten any that she couldn’t remember what they tasted like. For months after her arrival all she wanted to do was eat sardines.
One afternoon when I visited my grandparent’s I noticed they had empty plastic containers and glass jars under the sink. When I asked my grandmother about them, she told me she couldn’t throw them away because she always thought about her friends back in Havana, and how much they could use them.
A glass jar or plastic container in a communist country is a treasured possession. In Cuba people will pay to obtain a container they can use to store food or water.
I will never forget how much my grandfather enjoyed wearing the watch my father gave him when he arrived from Cuba. He never took it off. When the watch he had owned in Cuba broke he spent years without one. It’s hard to believe that a watch could give a person so much pleasure.
After many years without my maternal grandmother, my mother and her sisters spoiled her when she arrived from Cuba, and how she loved it. On Mother’s Day or on her birthday we would all go to her house.
My grandmother would sit in the middle of the room and take delight in all the attention. Everyone would bring her gifts, and she would always want to take a picture surrounded by all her presents.
She would open her gifts as if she were savoring a delicious meal. She would pick up one at a time and look at the paper it was wrapped in. Then very slowly without tearing the paper or the bow she would open her present stacking paper, ribbons and bows neatly to one side. She would never throw anything away.
Don’t take your life for granted. Make time to appreciate the pretty wrapping paper.
All of us will deal with hardships. Happiness requires an ability to tolerate uncertainty, and stressful moments, and to focus on solutions.
Open your eyes and count your blessings, and stop taking this country and all the opportunities it provides for granted.
We are blessed beyond measure.