As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we turn to the stories of our own friends and family who have stories and legacies of rich Hispanic and Latino cultures that impacted their own home lives.
Today, we’re lucky to have Barbara Dombrowski’s family Hispanic Heritage story to share her grandparent’s legacy of faith, freedom, and love when her Abuela and Abuelo fled Cuba for a better life in the United States.
These stories are treasured, and we’re so grateful to Barbara for sharing her family’s legacy with us as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
East Valley Moms
The best way I know how to pass down Abuela’s rich heritage to my boys is by sharing her story and the lessons it has taught me. By visiting her, my boys will hopefully remember the importance of her accomplishments and her struggles.
Abuela loves seeing her twelve great-grandchildren. Some of our most cherished memories are her singing Spanish lullabies like Duérmete mi niño, playing Spanish games that she used to play with us when we were little, and now simply sitting with her because the gift of time is all we have left.
Since Abuelo has passed away and Abuela’s memory is starting to fade, it has become the responsibility of the next generation to keep this rich family story alive. We will continue to tell their story as our way of passing down their beautiful legacy.
Where it all began
On July 4, 1954, my grandparents were married in Havana, Cuba. It was no coincidence that this happened on the Fourth of July because almost seven years later they would make the difficult decision to leave their home country for America in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their two young daughters.
Be strong in your convictions
After Castro’s takeover, my grandparents felt Cuba was heading in the wrong direction. Their faith was something very important to them and their church was in danger of closing. They were unable to speak their minds freely. They worried about Abuelo’s job and having enough food to feed their family. It especially bothered Abuela when she couldn’t find oranges to help my aunt when she was sick. This was not how they wanted to raise their daughters.
Our treasure is in each other, not in our possessions
After receiving visas from the US government and presenting them to the Cuban officials, my grandparents took inventory of their entire house. If something was found missing from the list they would not be allowed to leave. Forty four pounds of clothing each was all they could take with them.
Freedom is a gift
Our family celebrates our freedom every year on February 2 because on this day, in 1961, Abuelo and Abuela boarded an airplane bound for Miami with their two little girls on their laps so more people could leave.
They said goodbye to their family and friends knowing very well that they might never see them again. They left their home with everything in it, their jobs, their first language, and the familiar place they called home.
When they landed in Miami my grandmother kissed the ground with joy.
On this day they closed a huge chapter in their lives. They began building their legacy of freedom for their family with lots of sacrifice.
Believe in your work ethic
Starting over in a new country was not easy. Their strong faith in God is what got them through so many difficult challenges. Knowing that they could not survive on the $100 a month the US Government was providing, Abuelo set out to find a job. It was difficult because he did not speak English but he never gave up. He had holes in his shoes from walking so much looking for work. Eventually, with help from their church, they ended up in Los Angeles and would make their home there.
Looking into the future
Through our words and our actions, we appreciate living in this country and even more grateful for the strong faith foundation and courage of Abuelo and Abuela, a young couple with eyes fixed on a better future, who were married on the Fourth of July, who dreamed of a life of freedom for their two little girls. I wonder if they knew someday they would have twelve great-grandchildren who are now reaping the benefits of their courage and hard work.Abuela may not be able to tell us stories like she used to, but we are grateful for the ones we have written down and the ones forever ingrained in our hearts. This story lives on.