My Cuban Roots

Family history fascinates me.
Maybe more so because we lost our home and family so many years ago when we left Cuba.
There's that familiar tension again of living "life on the hyphen." 
That feeling of being 100% Cuban and 100% American.

The question haunts me sometimes:
What would my life have been like if. . .

  • . . . there had been no revolution?
  • . . . we would not have left Cuba?
  • . . . it had been possible to return to Cuba?

Would I have been different?

I know. I'm just making myself crazy with the what if's, and really, my life is just as it should be, but still. . .

My uncle brought be a piece of our family history. A project he's been carefully and painstakingly working on for months.  The Perez-Puelles Family Tree.


He was asking for my help in fleshing it out and turning it into something more substantial. He already had about 400 names and it went back about eight generations. No small feat!  It still needs work. There are dates missing and that sort of thing, but it's a beauty and a work of art. I know NOTHING about genealogy. NOTHING.

And the names and dates didn't mean much, but. . .  THE STORIES!  These people had STORIES. Some were just footnotes in this family history and some were hilarious anecdotes, but many were quirky and some were even very brave mabises who fought in the Ten Years War for Cuba's Independence. My grandfather was one of these.

This was the part I wanted to connect to.  The stories. The lives lived before mine. Having lost my connection to the island of my birth so long ago, I finally had something tangible to grasp. These were my people. These were my ROOTS.

I had done my own short version of our family tree, but only going back as far as my grandparents. Of course, mine was just pretty to look at and color coded. He was asking me for so much more.


I guess this means I'll be taking up genealogy. Cuban genealogy. I don't even know what that means or what it will look like. Heck, I can hardly remember how to spell the word! =D

But this project has captivated my attention. Any (ANY AT ALL!!) resources that you think might help would be greatly appreciated.

Do I have time to do this? No. But like with anything else that is worthwhile, I will make the time. This feels like something important that I want to be a part of. Especially the part about collecting the stories of these people. I've heard the stories all my life. I think it's time I started paying attention. This is the gift of having my mom and my uncle in their 90's with their sharp memories.  My plan is to pull out the camcorder and let them just go off and tell their stories. I know that if I don't, the stories will be lost forever. And that would be a shame.

My motivation?
I will do this for my own children. My Cuban-American children. Who need to know that they are a part of something bigger that started way back before they were born. That's where my imagination goes. Out to the future. It's important for me to leave them a legacy.

I'm trying not to get overwhelmed before I even get started. It took Alex Haley ten years of research to write Roots.

I forgot even what I ate ten hours ago. (maybe I'm not the best person for this job?)

But now I know that I am the grand-daughter of one of the mambises. And that makes me stand up a little bit straighter.

If nothing else, this will definitely help my posture. =D