Today is my niece Rebeca’s birthday. Thinking back I just realized that she is the only niece I got to see as a newborn. What a beautiful and happy event that was and how I treasure the early years in Milwaukee when we were so near. Today there is a great geographical distance since I live in Miami and she lives in Chicago. But she is always and forever in my heart. I love you Rebeca – Happy Birthday!!!
Aixa is the youngest of the Fantastic Five (Hernandez Fernandez cousins). This beautiful blue eyed blonde cherub was born on February 28 – the year does not matter, what matters is that today we celebrate that very happy occasion. My wishes for a Happy Birthday to my dear cousin and hoping she enjoys another yummy cake this year!
Itabo – Aixa is the adorable little girl to the right
Also in this picture: Adria is the cutie to the left, Esther and her husband Fabian (Tia Adela’s brother), Tia Adela, Tio Antonio, my mother and my father. Not sure who is the boy behind Adria or the one peeking between my mother and father.
Varadero – me in a fabulous outfit*, Aixa, Layda (Esther and Fabian’s daughter) and her husband
(*I think the designer was spared the firing squad, but is still serving time in Cuba)
Just found out that Nicole (Weisflog) Winchester, Tía Milagros’ granddaughter, gave birth on Wednesday, February 22 to the third of three absolutely gorgeous daughters.
Here are Quinn’s two adorable sisters:
I must add that they have three equally adorable cousins – Amanda (Weisflog) Paprocki’s children.
I hope I spelled the names right – but no matter how I spelled them, the beauty of these children can cast a spell on you.
As I have already mentioned, all my aunts were wonderful. But my relationship with Tia Milagros went from childhood to adulthood without a lengthy period of separation. This is the aunt that I had contact with as a child in Cuba and in Milwaukee through my teenage years and young adulthood. She also happened to be married to a very wonderful guy, the one and only Tio Pepe Lino.
In Cuba they lived in Andorra, Tio Pepe Lino’s family farm. It was so beautiful! I loved their house. Tia Cary used to tease her saying that she had so much stuff that she had Tio Pepe Lino walking sideways like a parrot. She did have a lot of pretty things and her house was impeccable even out in the country surrounded by red, red soil.
One day we stopped unannounced on our way to Pica Pica. It was close to lunch time. She put together one of the most memorable meals of my life – white rice, fresh eggs from the farm, pork chunks and fried plantains. She wasn’t one to invite a lot of people for a dinner party, but any time you stopped by, in Cuba as well as in Milwaukee, she would welcome you with open arms and would whip up a feast in no time.
They had one daughter, Clara, who stayed with us in Milwaukee for about two years before her parents were able to join her. My relationship with Clara is very special and deserves an entry of its own. I have the honor of being her daughter Nicole’s godmother.
My memories of Tia Milagros are so many, from her telling me stories when I was a little girl in Cuba, my stopping by their apartment in Milwaukee between classes when I was going to night school, coming with them to Miami on vacation, her taking care of my daughter Elvie during my doctor’s appointments when I was pregnant with my second daughter Veronica. I would talk to her on the phone every day when we lived in Milwaukee and we both ended up moving to Miami.
She actually saved her little sister’s life. Here is the story as I heard it from my mother. Tia Cary had just given my mother and their younger brother (Pepe) a bath. She put them on the bed and told them not to walk barefoot on the floor because they had just had a warm bath. In the meantime Tia Milagros was outside and planned to play a trick on them by throwing some banana peels through the window. She stepped up a ladder to look in and what she saw horrified her. She quickly ran into the house nearly knocking down my grandfather who turned to my grandmother and said – “what’s wrong with that girl?!” She tried to get in the bedroom, but the door would not open – she knocked and knocked asking my mother to help her get the door open. My mother answered – “I can’t because I just took a warm bath” (she would be teased about this later on). Tia Milagros finally was able to get the door open. What she had seen was Tia Berta with her little neck stuck in the footboard of the iron bed and barely breathing. She had tried to climb up and join her siblings on the bed. Her head got stuck and the little stool she was stepping on had gotten away from her feet. Tia Milagros rescued her in the nick of time.
It was so sweet to see her and Tio Pepe holding hands as they grew older. Sadly they had a terrible experience with Hurricane Andrew, having to move from one house to another in the middle of the storm. After it was over and she went back to her home, her house and all her pretty things were destroyed. Her mind was never the same. Perhaps there is a consolation. Although she was very religious she did not like to speak about death, it frightened her so. It may be a blessing she was not aware of her husband’s passing and that she did not have to fear her own.
I truly believe that now her light shines bright in Heaven.
* Tia Milagros was actually born in 1912, but when she and Tia Cary were in their teens they discovered that, in error, their births had not been recorded. On an impulse they decided to take off a year when they registered their respective births. I found this out when we were living in Milwaukee. I thought it was funny and teased her about it. She told “Please don’t let your uncle hear you.” Obviously he didn’t know about it and would be upset – not that he would care about her being a year older, but he would definitely care that it would take her an extra year to collect Social Security.
Today is the beginning of Lent. I am a practicing Catholic and, as I always say, I will keep on practicing until I get it right. Each year this season gives me the opportunity to look into my soul and reflect on where I am in my spiritual journey.
There is the usual giving up something. For years I have given up chocolate, but then that became too easy when Reese’s Pieces came into the picture. Now I give up sweets. There could be an ulterior motive in this since losing weight could be seen as the goal. But rest assured that I have yet to lose weight from this practice. As a matter of fact, one year I gained 6 pounds during Lent. So for me it is truly sacrificial.
But what I try to do this time of the year is to open my mind and my heart to God’s plan in my life and try to become a better person. There is a lot of work to be done and the problems and responsibilities of daily life distract me from my purpose. The Season of Lent brings things back into focus.
O Lord and Master of my life,
give me not the spirit of laziness,
despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of sobriety,
humility, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King,
grant me to see my own transgressions
and not to judge my brother,
for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen
St. Ephraim the Syrian (AD 305-373)
Well maybe not quite leap tall buildings, but he is a bundle of energy and a very good looking birthday boy. And today on his 2nd birthday this old aunt wishes him joy, happiness and a bright future.
Today is my niece Aida Elena’s birthday. Time goes by so quickly. She is the mother of three beautiful girls. Her oldest will be having her First Communion soon. Incredible! It wasn’t that long ago when she had hers!
Aida – Wishing you much happiness and success in life. May you always be surrounded by love and may God bless you and your beautiful family today and always
Love you mucho!!!
Love is in the air! In the spirit or Valentine’s Day, some favorite quotes:
“Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Franklin P. Jones
“A life with love will have some thorns, but a life without love will have no roses.” –Unknown Author
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. – Helen Keller
Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep. The only way to retain love is to give it away. – Elbert Hubbard
To laugh often and love much… to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one’s self… this is to have succeeded. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor… Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” ~Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.” ~ St. Francis de Sales
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails…But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,13
Find out more about St. Valentine here
Technically that’s not right, but I couldn’t resist. I did get a new one. It was no easy task since the user friendly website is anything but friendly. It goes around in circles. After you go from here to there, get phone numbers, talk to people whose first language is not English, just when you think you finally have the answer, they refer you back to your starting point.
I was very frustrated, any options online I would have to sign a new contract, my cell phone was already under contract and I was not up for an upgrade. So after communicating via e-mail with a real agent (the virtual agent was no help), she told me I could order one over the phone and gave me a phone number, but she didn’t think I would be able to get any deals and that it was a better choice to go to an AT&T store.
I kept putting it off (something I do quite often), but yesterday I decided was the day I would get the phone. Before going to the store I went to the website again – I had not kept the number they had given me, but I wanted to have it as a Plan B. I tried to reach an agent via e-mail, but they were very busy assisting other customers – I waited and waited and got restless and started doing other things, when I came back, they had disconnected me. I tried it again and when I didn’t answer in two seconds, they disconnected me again. While looking for customer service I saw a series of e-mails from someone who had bought a phone at the store and they had majorly messed up their billing and months later they had not been able to get it resolved – not a good sign!
I looked for the phone number for sales and gave that a shot – and armed with that number and a lot of prayers I was able to replace my phone with a special early upgrade and I only need to pay the connection charge which they will add to my bill – I did pay for fast delivery, but that was my choice – and my new phone is charging as I write.
So… Hey-la-day-la my cell phone’s back
It’s not too big, but I hope it’s strong!
What I remember the most about Tío Miguel is his sweetness and his smile. He was one of the two brothers who remained in Pica Pica. His house once he was married was a few yards from the big family home.
I remember his wedding. There was a long, long table covered with a white tablecloth and what I thought was a spread of different cakes in addition to the wedding cake in the center, but in the picture I only see one additional cake, maybe multiplied in the eyes of a child who was fascinated by the round silver sprinkles. I was thrilled with my dress. My cousin Lourdes and I discovered that if we bent down we could run back and forth under the table. Then suddenly some grown up stopped our fun, thus my unhappy look in the picture.
Tia Ineida came to Matanzas when their first son, Lazaro, was born. She spent a few days at our house after she left the hospital. It was the first time I saw a mother nursing her baby – it was so sweet!
I remember visiting them for a few days in December of 1957. It was a very cold winter for Cuba, but their home was warm and welcoming just like the two of them.
Mima would use the expression “la mas bella entre las co” (the most beautiful among the co). This inside joke originated from Tio Miguel reading a newspaper article out loud. It was about a beauty contest and he read “la mas bella entre las co.” The article actually said: “La mas bella entre las 60.” He mistook the “6” for a “c.”
His son Lazaro and his family have resided in Miami for the last few years, but I have yet to connect with them. Their youngest son, Pedro Luis, was tragically killed a little over a year ago as he tried to flee Cuba. As it was reported, the boat he was on crashed against a large rock while they were being pursued and everyone aboard was killed. His body was never recovered.
I pray that as his soul ascended to Heaven Tio Miguel was there to greet him with his beautiful, sweet smile.