My parents never saw Fidel up close. That unsatisfied desire was mitigated by sincere love for his work. My mom, a housewife, made her home her sanctuary; my father, a musician shaped between empirical chords and bars by my grandfather’s cane, almost never had fixed work before 1959.
My parents knew nothing of socialism, much less of communism. The shrine to Our Lady of El Cobre, in their living room, was a space for prayers and candles lit in hope of a better life. “Cachita”, as they affectionately referred to the venerated image, was refuge and hope during the tough years in which the “old man” wandered nightspots in the capital with his saxophone.
Clinging to their Christian faith, a few months following Fidel’s January triumph, their reality took an unusual turn, when they very happily received the title deed to their home under the Urban Reform Law, awarding them sole and genuine ownership of a house built at the beginning of the 20th century, back in 1910.
My mother continued to be a tireless housewife, however, life rewarded her with the joy of living to the age of 94 and witnessing the many works of the Revolution. My father, who died aged almost 80, found a secure job in the Cuban radio and television orchestra, until the very moment of his retirement.
They had no greater aspiration than to lead a modest life, grateful to the man who offered them tranquility and allowed their son — born in a peripheral and bustling district of the city — to ascend the grand staircase of the University of Havana, who granted them the satisfaction of watching him become a professional.
My parents also suffered, deeply, the sabotage of the La Coubre ship; the Barbados crime; and I know not how many more sorrows that shook their very souls. They never saw Fidel up close, they didn’t address him, they could not grasp his thin hands, but always, especially in the face of adversity, I heard them mention those five symbolic letters, with hope.
My parents never saw Fidel up close, but they died convinced of just how much kindness rested in his heart.