Life Lessons from the Wisest Woman I Knew

My parents came to America from Cuba in the early nineteen seventies. My grandmother on my mother’s side was a very wise woman. She was probably the wisest person I have known, yet she only went to second grade. But she had her daughter’s become teachers and asked her to tell them everything they were learning in school.

She got along with everyone. She used to say: “if you do right to people, most of them will do right to you.”

She advised us to stay away from gossip and bad tone. She taught us to treat people with good manners. She was the essence of living in harmony with other people. She was always ready to help a neighbor. If a woman had just had a baby, she would move into the house and cook soup. My grandmother was everybody’s mother and grandmother.

She lived 99 years. She died during a nap. She had gone to take a nap in a rocking chair. She told her daughter that she was tired and needed a nap.

The next thing my hand heard: “mama!”

They say that you see the person you love just before you die, so she probably saw her mother!

Over the years I stayed in touch with cousins in Cuba, and little by little most of them moved to the United States. I’ve lost touch with one cousin, but we were never very close to begin with.

I’ve never been back to Cuba. The last time I was there was 1959. I do miss the people and the beaches. But the people are not there anymore. My friends and family are not there.

I miss things like carnival which was great fun with singing and dancing in the streets.

I even went to a nightclub or two when I was very young. One of my uncle’s was the director of an orchestra that played in one of the casinos in Havana. I think the name of his orchestra was casino de la Playa. He used to take us down there on special occasions.