I’ve written before about how my family spent summers in Varadero Beach in pre-castro Cuba.
My grandmother’s birthday was in late June so we would be out of Havana and not with her to celebrate.
So we would call….
It seems like such a simple thing, making a phone call from Varadero to Havana, but it was quite an elaborate operation because the beach house didn’t have a phone, so the parental units had to herd us kids to a nearby public phone. There were usually anywhere between 12 and 20 of us varying in ages from toddlers to teenagers.
Here we are at the beach house, Villa Obdulia, all dressed up in some get-ups that our mothers thought were adorable. What a fashion statement! Mini-striped & pleated skirts, colorful sleeveless tops, matching flip-flops and RIDICULOUS Peter Pan hats. If anyone is still thinking that yesterday’s Toga thing is weird, as you can see, I come by it honestly. =D (I’m in the 1st row, 2nd from left)
We lined up and marched over to the phone booth and got our instructions:
There were so many of us that we were only allowed to say, “Felicidades, Abuela!” followed by our name.
It was all going beautifully…
“Felicidades, Abuela! Betty.”
“Felicidades, Abuela! Miriam.”
“Felicidades, Abuela! Lupe.”
Perfect choreography. One kid in. One kid out. Next.
“Felicidades, Abuela! Yoly.”
“Felicidades, Abuela! Alina.”
Eventually, after all the big kids had said their felicidades, it was time for us four year olds…
“Felicidades, Abuela! Regina.”
“Felicidades, Abuela! Marta.”
At this point, my cousin, Fernando, who was right behind me, was so hyped up, nervous and worried about blowing his line that he breathlessly grabbed the phone and practically shouted:
“Felicidades, Abuela! MARTA!”
This is one of those family anecdotes that lives on and on. We all LOVE this story.
And of course, the line: “Felicidades, Abuela! MARTA!” has now become the stuff of familial legend.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I get an early morning text telling me that my cousin, Maria‘s daughter, Suzy, just gave birth to a beautiful 8 1/2 lb. baby boy. Suzy is a mother! Maria is a grandmother!! Doubly wonderful! I called my cousin immediately, and (Yay!) I got to legitimately deliver The Line:
“Felicidades, Abuela! MARTA!” =D
I swear. I am so easily entertained.