Elliott Jaques coined this term in the 1960s to identify a period of time when adults come to realize their own mortality and how much time may be left in their life.
Around my eight years of age, there was this lady who lived in-house and took care of the children (my brother, sister and little ol’ me) while doing some light housekeeping work… I guess taking care of us was considered heavy enough work… Her name was Calixta and she also had what was -unbeknownst to me– a “special gift”… she would at times go into a trance and while in this state, was able to “see things”. I am not sure about these bouts but the fact is she did say many things which would eventually turn out to be true.
One morning, in the midst of one of these, she looked at me through somewhat glazed eyes and said: “you are going to travel far… you are going to go many places in the world and will stay away from here for many, many years…” To someone who was then around nine years of age and whose travels to that moment could be –at best- called “regionally focused” within Cuba, these mutterings seemed to be crazy… but then, at that time Castro’s coming was somewhere in the distant future yet.
Well into the late 50’s we had a relatively normal life. Yes, there was this revolution thing going on but to us children, this was a far away story happening somewhere else, not “here”… This state of affairs changed abruptly on the night of January 1st, 1959, when the “Era of the Castro Bros.” began. This would be (still is) characterized by total loss of private property, lack of basic needs, mental and literate poverty, and by fear… a polarizing fear that pits members of a family against each other and neighbor against neighbor.
This event marked a pivotal change in my life as I knew it until then… After several ups and downs during the initial years of the People’s Revolution (Caribbean version) a decision was made and I left the country. It was about this moment in my life that the first blog entry was written some years ago…
Sometimes when we look at years that have gone by, there is an undefined feeling of (un)accomplishment that comes about. Then, I began to actually take a look back (in preparation for the future, of course!!) into these 50 or so years that have passed since my coming to this great land… This is when one actually realizes that it has been -so far, for I expect this to continue on- a voyage which is nothing if not fantastic…
I left my country without many expectations but with much trepidation… New life, new everything… The initial adapting shock was made easier by many people who became special in their relationship with me. Friends, classmates, that special girlfriend… Then, I traveled on to Puerto Rico, where for the first time I met my father and his new family, to include a grand step-mom and brother. College to be followed by US Army “volunteer” service during one of our more controversial interventions… Vietnam.
First marriage, a beautiful girl-child (still beautiful, though not a child anymore…) first real job(s), mingled with radio “personality” work in NYC and Connecticut… A dream come true... Then my dive into the world of insurance, where I would spend my next 35 professional years… Then… a second marriage, which brought 3 wonderful children into being… Travel around the world (literally) in the mid 80’s, followed by the experience of almost 5 years of living in South America. Then, the end of the second marriage and eventually, the beginning of the third… which engendered continued travel, now no longer in the insurance world, but looking for a bright financial light which seemed to get away just when we thought it was there at our fingertips to be held and enjoyed…
In the midst of all this, we lived through social upheavals to rival the early civil war era, saw the first man walk on the moon and the first space station… became fans of Star Trek and witnessed the birth of several ST inspired gadgets… the most ubiquitous being the (in)famous cell phone… remember “Beam me up, Scotty”?... Saw the birth of the computer and eventually the internet and its spawned social networks, electric cars and many more… survived the end of the world in both 2000 and 2012… and hope to survive a few more endings. On the very negative side, let’s not forget to mention folks who have taken over their own countries while trying to forcibly emulate the Cuban model… to the sorrow of those who live within… And, yes… infomercials… Ugh!!
It has been an exciting trip full of emotions… joy, despair, illness, recovery, deep sorrow –with the tragic loss of a very special son- the happiness of a new and beautiful granddaughter –hope for the continuum- and an endless supply of optimism and hope for the future yet to come…
Be Well … Be Back!!!
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