Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Family

Elsa went to Miami to interview her family for the book she is writing about her life in Cuba and the U.S.  She timed the visit so she could see her father who was visiting from Cuba.  Elsa's family is divided between the two countries.

The book is going to be about her stormy roots and how she emerged into the successful artist, wife and mother she is today.  I knew a little about some of those early days.  Elsa's family story includes mental illness, abuse, infidelity, divorce, and jail.  All this happening --- as I bet you suspected --  in severe poverty.

"Elsa," I asked, "were they reluctant to reveal themselves to you?"  (I was thinking of my family who manage to keep some pretty dark stuff to themselves.)  "No," she said.  "They were just happy that someone was interested."

As we talked more,  I began to realize that Elsa's parents lived their lives as a series of unchallenged events they never attempted to explain.  Elsa helped me understand that shame and pride (which keep my secrets safe) come when there is education and status. Something "valuable" to protect.   The Moras were too poor to know of any of this.

Elsa said goodbye with: "You know Joan, the one thing they all told me that I took to heart is that they are happy."

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