Santiago Justo Hernandez Borragero
Born August 6, 1906
Died April 29, 1962
Nothing I could write would do justice to what my father meant to me. He loved me unconditionally and yet he expected the best of me. To this day whenever I weaken and I want to give up, his memory gives me the strength to keep going.
Medical School Days at University of Havana
He was firm and serious, but had a wonderful sense of humor and a childlike quality that was so dear. He loved my mother very much and we, his children, were his life. He always had time for us. He’d take us swimming to El Mamey and Buey Vaquita (Varadero was for Sundays). Once he took us on a fishing expedition (within walking distance) which included some of the girls that worked at Mima’s beauty shop. Somehow I got hit by a fish on my forehead. In the excitement of the catch Omaida had pulled a little too fast and I was right behind her. He was horrified at the thought that it could have happened with just the hook. That was the first and the last fishing outing.
He was overprotective. For years he tried to teach me how to swim, but it is required to let go of the person so they can actually swim – something he could never bring himself to do. Perhaps he was traumatized by an incident at El Mamey when I was very little and he was walking carrying me on his shoulders where the water was too deep for me. He stumbled upon a large rock and I fell in. I remember going under, but before I could even panic, feeling his arms around me as he pulled me out, his legs thoroughly scratched by the rock.
The family in Varadero – Lazara in the background and some people I don’t know (or don’t remember)
He was Chago to his siblings, Tío Chago to his nieces and nephews and even Tío Tatayo to Lazarito, one of Tío Miguel’s children. Family was very important to him. There is something I took for granted, but that as an adult I realize is not so common. Growing up there was no distinction between the Hernandez and the Corzos, each of my parents was very much a part of the other’s family. It is to Mima’s credit that this continued even after his death.
Looking through Mima’s pictures and papers to prepare for this blog, I came across some letters, beautiful love letters that are best kept private. I found one that he wrote to her after they were married when she was visiting Pica Pica with Santiaguito, telling her how much he missed them and letting her know when he was coming to pick them up. In the news from home he mentions that her Goddaughter had gotten a hold of her perfume bottle and used it to her heart’s content. That Goddaughter was 3-1/2 year old Adria.
There are days I feel cheated that I only had him for 13 years, but then I realize what a blessing those 13 years were. I close this blog with the following quote:
“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
This quote has mistakenly been attributed to romantic love, but it is actually from a poem by Alfred Tennyson (In Memoriam) written upon the sudden death of his dear friend Arthur Hallam who was engaged to his sister. Here is the complete verse:
I hold it true, what’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
Note: I chose the quote above because of its meaning. My daughter Veronica pointed out to me that Alfred Tennyson’s birthday was also on August 6. That is quite a coincidence.