“Where am I going? What am I going to do with my life?” Did you ever catch yourself mumbling these words, or hear someone else? Indeed, life is very strange as our destination is unknown because of change–our constant companion.
***Note: For a truly enjoyable experience, listen to the video while reading the post. Enjoy! 🙂
About 50 years ago, my family’s destination was quickly shoved off its trajectory just after the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro and his Communist Regime swiftly took over Cuba, destroying the dreams of many, including my father’s. At the time, he was an Accountant for the Coca-Cola company. My father had instilled the fact that I should pursue the same profession upon me early in my life as it was the chosen career for most of my family. However, change happened. As the communists began to confiscate private property, not to redistribute to the poor, but to keep for themselves, my father realized it was time to get his family out of Cuba. All Cubans seeking exile in America were the first to lose all their assets, and most had to do time at the Sugar Cane Farms.
Before we left the island, each month, military trucks poured into Santiago to pick up what they called the “gusanos” or “worms.” That is what the about-to-be-exiled Cubans became–mere worms. My father disappeared for weeks as he was taken to the sugar cane farms, allowed to return home for a week and then returning to the cane plantations. Eventually, we all made it out, became U.S.A. citizens never to know about or return to Cuba again.
English: Coat of arms of Cuba. Español: Escudo de Cuba. Русский: Герб Кубы. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Life is so strange as the consequences eventually revealed themselves. One was that my father’s trauma due to abandoning his country coupled with culture shock led him to a depression. While my mother worked two jobs, sometimes three, he sulked and cried. Until those first years in America, my father appeared as a god to me. Never had I seen him in this way. Those first years in America were the most depressing for me–I’ve never rid myself of the “yucky” feeling in my gut, unexplainable feeling that makes one want to vomit. My father laid in bed for many months, only waking to stroll to the toilet. As time passed, he eventually began to attend to my sister and me, taking us to the park across the street, always in silence, letting a chuckle out here and there as he watched us ride bike and do the sorts of things little girls do in a park.
Time passed. Instead of returning to school to enhance his poor English speaking and writing abilities as well as to gain re-certification in Accounting, he became a steel worker, which although very lucrative financially, the hours and dangerous labor took a toll on my father’s health–aging him quickly. He was only 27 at that time, yet he looked like 57.
More years passed, we settled. Now, he wanted to relive his dream to be an accountant through me, always reminding me how important it was to continue the family’s choice of career and tradition. I hated numbers and accounting; I couldn’t see myself toiling with that crap for the rest of my life. But, he insisted that the only way he would pay for my college was if I majored in Accounting. Nursing was my calling, but I decided to listen to my father.
Life is so strange, indeed. Initially, I did attempt Accounting but ended up dropping out one semester short of graduating with a 2.7 average–I could not get through Accounting II; I could not get through Business Law. I could not get through a lot of stuff. It was not meant for me. To avoid his wrath, which at times was insane, I married, focusing on motherhood. In addition, I became a debt collector–close to Accounting. It made my father happy as he thought I was preparing to jump back on that bandwagon. That thought was far from my mind. My destination, to me, was unknown.
Today, I hold two bachelors and two masters–none in business or accounting. I’m more of an artist–something I did not discover until, well, now. All I can say is that I should have listened to my heart and soul. Yet, at that time I could not since I love my father dearly and had watched his crash from a jolly, robust man into a bitter, dessicated one. In an attempt to make him happy, I thwarted my progress. If you want to call it that. If I had to do it again, I would not change a thing. By taking the detour, enriching experiences I did have–so many things I have witnessed.
English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Below is a family gathering picture during my father’s favorite holiday–4th of July. That’s me with the nerdy, flowery shirt–that’s him, my father, with the American T-shirt–his favorite. My sister is in the background, in the sun–the rest: What my father calls his American grandchildren!
What is the point of my tale? For some of us, change bleeds into our life, destroying old patterns and confirming that although all may seem fixed and unmovable, all is in flux. Destination is unknown.