Monday, February 15, 2010

I know what it feels like to be me.

I blog a lot. I blog all over the place, especially on political matters. I also tend to cut and paste this blog address when I blog, and it must be working since I have over 60 profile views, so someone must be reading my posts, which is fine with me. I really have nothing to hide. I love the freedom that the Internet affords people to express oneself. Having said this, I am sure someone who may have read my last post may have said... yeah, right, she does not know what it feels like to be poor. Actually, I do.

You see, I am an immigrant from Cuba. When my parents left Cuban when I was 5, they left with nothing more than the clothes on their back. We left Havana and flew into Mexico in 1965; 3 months later, we moved to California. My father was educated in the University of Havana, but was a jeweler by profession, and he often traveled to the US for business; my mom was a housewife. My father's success is a story on its own, and I will touch upon it very little here.

My Dad was born in Havana in 1914, shortly after my grandparents left Spain during WWI, so my grandparents were immigrants to Cuba. Like all immigrants anywhere in the world to a new country, struggle is inevitable, and my father and his family struggled, which struggle eventually gave them a comfortable life in Cuba. Nothing in life is easy. Anyone that tells you otherwise, is lying. So when my family fled Castro's Cuba in 1965, my father knew it would be a struggle to begin a new life in a different country, especially with a different language. But he accepted the challenge because it would mean that his children would live in freedom, although he was already a man of 51. I am grateful to my father for that decision. Unfortunately, my father died eight years after arriving in the US, leaving behind my mother, my brother (14) and me (13). We were essentially left with nothing. The life insurance basically covered my father's burial. With the little that was left over, my mom bought my brother and me, each, a bike. My mom did not drive, so bikes were now our only mode of transportation, at least, until my brother turned 16.

After my father died, my mother obtained a job at a factory that produced battery products for the military. I believe the name of the company was Mallory, now Duracell, but by the time I was 15, my mom was diagnosed with debilitating lung problems due to cleaning acids she used to wipe down finished battery products. Support for the family now rested on the little income that my brother and I could make, and a little social security widow's retirement my mom received from my father's earlier work history. My brother and I did everything we could to make a dollar. My brother was a busboy. I babysat. There was no food stamp, to Medicaid, no welfare. It was struggle, stuggle, struggle. When I turned 16, we packed the little we could carry in my car, a rusty 1969 Buick Skylark, and my mom, brother, our black lab, Sharky, and I, with my brother's old orange VW Hatchback in tow, headed for California, where most of my mom's family had settled ealier. We had very little, but what we had was love, and an incredible desire to succeed, and live the American Dream.

To make a long, long story short, today both my brother and I are educated, we both have families and good jobs, and are homeowners (my brother owns a home in Arizona and California, and I own a home near Malibu, California). Thankfully, my mom, now 83, is still alive, and is very proud of her children's accomplishments. What I am trying to say here is's ok to be poor, but it's not ok to resolve oneself to staying poor. Struggle never hurt anyone, and if two Hispanic immigrants can live the American Dream, then so can anyone else. Generations of welfare and poverty is not acceptable, and should never be acceptable. I don't believe in poverty begets poverty. One must seek opportunities. Opportunity normally does not come knocking at one's door on it's own. One must will it. So, yes, I know what it is like to be poor, but I also know what it like to have a burning desire to succeed. I made it. What's your excuse?

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