Assignment: Discuss an event in your life using some research
This past 5th of November marked the second anniversary of my Papa’s death. During my phone conversation with Mama on that day, she reminded me of it. I was at work at the time and the date and its meaning hadn’t yet occurred to me. November is going by so fast and it’s been hard to keep up with the days. Anyway, it got me thinking about the night Papa passed away. I remember it clearly – I had booked a flight to Florida as soon as my mom had told me it was time. I left the following morning. Luckily, I was able to see him the day I arrived. He died that night. I was the one who answered the phone as the nursing home he was being taken of in called to tell us the news. It was kind of weird. It was around 11 p.m. and as soon as the phone rang, Mama just instantly knew who was calling and began crying. I immediately began dry heaving over the toilet and couldn’t stop. I was literally sick to my stomach.
Papa passed away sadly over a long period of time. Though he died Nov. 5th, it felt as if my family and I had lost him a long time before that. Papa had diabetes, but had also suffered a stroke, which is really what changed him drastically. He was no longer the active, happy, upbeat man I had known my whole life after that. A stroke is the rapidly developing loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. As a result, the affected area of the brain is unable to function, which might result in an inability to move one or more limbs on one sides of the body, inability to understand or formulate speech, or an inability to see one side of the visual field, according to Wikipedia.
I miss Papa so much, and I know my Mama misses him every day. It’s amazing to think about them as a couple and how much love they shared. It’s crazy to think what if they had never met. Then, my mom wouldn’t have been born, she would have never met my dad, and I wouldn’t be here. Just like that, life would be so different. Or really, I’d have no life. And the fact that it almost happened is the scariest part of all. This brings me to Mama’s journey to America.
Mama grew up in the Dominican Republic (D.R.). She was extremely close to her parents (Mama Felicia and Papa Jacinto) and was very family oriented. With 19 brothers and sisters, it would almost be impossible not to be. She was brought up catholic and was very invested in its values and traditions.
Growing up in D.R. was difficult at best. Mama had it a little easier then most because she lived on a farm and survived off of the animals they had and plants they cultivated. Mama worked extremely hard throughout her childhood and early adult years.
“Cleaning, washing, shopping, cooking. It was a lot of work. A lot of work,” Mama said. She was a very good daughter. Her father absolutely adored her.
Politics was a different story. For her entire life, Rafael L. Trujillo dictated D.R. His 30 years in power, to Dominicans known as the Trujillo Era, is considered one of the bloodiest ever in the Americas, as well as a time of a classic personality cults, when monuments to Trujillo were in abundance. It has been estimated that Trujillo’s rule was responsible for the death of more than 50,000 people, including 20,000 to 30,000 in the infamous Parsley Massacre, according to Wikipedia. However, politics was never something Mama got involved with and fortunately, did not directly affect her.
Three years before Mama would enter The U.S., Trujillo was finally assassinated. The story of why Mama came to America is an incredible one I never get tired of being told.
Mama had had a boyfriend for eight years in D.R. When it came time for them to get married, he refused to marry her in the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter. This was unacceptable to Mama, but mostly to her mother who was extremely religious. The two broke up. After this happened, Mama’s father heard a story in which another young woman had killed herself as a result of her own breakup. He grew terrified that his daughter, who he loved so much, would befall the same fate.
“My papa thought I was going to die of a broken heart. He was so afraid I would kill myself. And for that reason I came to New York,” Mama said.
Despite what her father thought, according to Mama, she took the breakup well. And even though she was sent to N.Y., she wanted to come, she said. On June, 6, 1963 she turned 22. On September 22, 1963, she left for the U.S. She remembers the exact date as if it were yesterday.
“I remember my mother bringing me to the airport with my brothers and sisters too. I remember Papa’s eyes being swollen shut from crying so much. He couldn’t bring me to the airport because of his eyes. He couldn’t stop crying. He really loved me and was sad to see me go even though he wanted me too,” Mama said.
Upon entering N.Y., she stayed with her aunt – her mother’s sister. The same aunt who would later hide letters Mama’s ex-boyfriend would send to her from D.R. She did it because she thought she was protecting her. She didn’t want to show them to her in fear it would make her upset. The letters said that he wouldn’t marry Mama in just one church, but in 1,000 churches if that is what it took. Mama never saw a single one.
This was also the same aunt who introduced Mama to Papa. And the rest is history. They fell in love and a year later got married.
I had thought for the majority of my life that Mama and Papa had met in D.R. and got married there. I was very wrong. The first time my mom told me this story, I fell in love with it. It’s almost like a movie. In fact, it’s very similar to The Notebook, except Mama’s ending is a bit different. Hearing Mama tell it makes it real.
Though I feel sorry for Mama’s ex because he realized what he had much too late and now must spend the rest of his life missing my Mama, I am glad she never got the letters. Who knows what would have happened then. She might have forgiven him, flown back to D.R. and then married him. It would appear had she gotten the letters that that would be the assumed, normal course of action. Luckily though, God and fate intervened. Despite eight years of a relationship, she found everything she needed and ever wanted and more from Papa in just one year’s time. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. It just goes to show you that everything happens for a reason!