Just a few weeks ago my mother went to Puerto Rico to be reunited with family. It was surprising to learn that not much was left in Puerto Rico. Most of the people we knew had either passed away or moved away since the “barrio” took a turn for the worst. My mother hadn’t visited Puerto Rico in 28 long years. About 3 years ago, I had the opportunity to visit but only went for a short stay (3 days). I did not have the opportunity to visit the places that once had deep meaning to me because the stay was so short. I was happy that my mom would see “home” again. However, “home” was not what it was anymore. It was unrecognizable.
I was at Party City purchasing birthday decor for my niece, Mia, who was turning one when I received these daunting images (see below). My heart had completely sunken to the pit of my stomach. Tears flowed down my cheeks. I could not believe the images before my eyes. It wasn’t what I had imagined the house would look like. The balcony was completely gone. The driveway is non-existent. Doors, windows, the fence, just gone. The only thing left was the bones that kept the house together, the ones that somehow witnessed part of my childhood.
I stared at the photos and instantly remembered my life as a child. I remembered my mom, my dad, my cat, my aunt Pilar, my titi Aida, Doña Ana (may she Rest in Peace). She sold the best Limbel in the neighborhood. I remember my school uniform and the awful shoes I was forced to wear. We had very limited resources but somehow we managed to live the best life.
Then, a few moments passed and I began walking into another isle at Party City. I stopped, stared at the images again and I gave thanks because my mom was able to visit. Her biggest fear was flying after the 9/11 attacks. I gave thanks because we left home with a purpose. We wanted a better life. It’s taken me a long time to realize that home is where family lies and the remainder of my family is here, with me, not on an island but in the States. We’re all so close and technology brings us all closer. This year, this Thanksgiving will probably be the best Thanksgiving I’ve had in a while. I will be spending it with my family. I’m really looking forward to giving thanks for everything we’ve accomplished after leaving “home”. I’m looking forward to the sharing of childhood memories and to making new ones, this time with my husband beside me.
Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.