When I was born, my dad was 44 years old. I am the youngest of his six children. (Still today and forever, I am the baby of the family, but that's not important right now.)
On February 13th, 1961, he celebrated the first of many birthdays in the U.S. He was 50 years old.
My dad was an extremely quiet person. He was not, as I recall, particularly brave. Except for having the common, everyday-type courage that it takes to start your life over again in a new country, speaking a new language and providing for a wife and six children.
That always amazes me. And yet, he managed to, not just survive in this new land, but to thrive.
In 1962, he bought a house in Southwest Miami. 25th Terrace.
We were excited to be a part of the new adventure of moving into a new house and we explored every bedroom, every closet, every cabinet of the house, and every inch of the fabulously huge backyard.
This was back in the day when you needed a huge TV antenna to get reception for one of the 3 major channels. My dad, the engineer, got a brand new antenna that needed to be installed. This required climbing up on the roof.
He must have borrowed the ladder from a neighbor. "Come up here with me. You can see Cuba from up here."
He might just as well have said, "We're going on a magic treasure hunt."
My sister, Alina, and I eagerly climbed up onto the roof with him.
No, of course, we couldn't see Cuba. He patiently explained that obviously, the avocado tree behind us was blocking our view.
My brother snapped the polaroid and captured this moment forever.
And such was the power of my dad's ability to tell stories, that I never questioned that we could probably see Cuba from the roof of our little home in Southwest Miami (La Saguesera), but for that silly, overgrown avocado tree.
My dad would have been 100 years old today. The older I get, the more I miss him.
Felicidades, viejo. Te quiero.