The link to the YouTube video below shows the island of my forefathers, Puerto Rico as it was in the 1940’s. This is the land they loved, and yet abandoned to find a place where they could work; so, they might live.
My mom and dad insisted they were ordinary people, who traveled to a new land, learned a new language and strange new ways. It was a frightening, difficult journey that they each undertook alone, because they had not yet met.
My father was an army man, who had lied about his age to enlist during the First World War. Afterward, he travelled to New York for medical treatment for injuries incurred during the war years.
As for my mother, there were additional dangers. She was nineteen-years-old when to escape the poverty of home, mom smuggled herself aboard a ship and hid in a life boat. The ship’s crew did not discover the stowaway until they had entered New York Harbor. She had made it, but mom still had to pay the penalty for stowing away—indentured servitude as a maid in a New York apartment.
The voyage north was definitely not for the faint of heart, but they were both young and strong; they persevered. Eventually, my parents met and married. They made a new home they learned to love as deeply as the one they had left behind because, in this new place their children were born.
Although the future beckoned, once in a while they looked back, and measured how far they had come. It was then that they carefully unwrapped their fragile memories of their island childhood home and shared them with my brother and me. The very first time they did this I discovered just how truly extraordinary my parents were.
Although I was not born on the island of Puerto Rico, that was where my story began: