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Edel Rodriguez
My Grandmother
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My grandmother on the left and her sister Panchita. ca. 1927
Today is my Grandmother's 94th birthday, her name is Agustina Alvarez, born in Havana in 1912.  I can't count how many coups and revolutions, etc. she's lived through.  Here she is on the left with her sister Panchita on the right, probably around 1927.  This is one of my favorite pictures of her.  Very stylish. 

My grandmother still lives in our little town in the countryside of the province of Havana.  I miss her dearly, and I have missed her since I left the island when I was a kid.  I called her "Mamá", and I still do, we were very close.  Sometimes we had birthday parties together since they're only a few days apart.

The last time I saw her was several years ago on my last visit to Cuba.  It's very difficult to take a trip down there so I can't go often.  Everytime I say goodbye I feel like it's the last time I'll see her.  She had always wanted to leave the island and come to the U.S., but my grandfather didn't want to leave.  He used to say he wanted to die on the land he was born, no dictator would make him leave his soil.  My grandfather, "Papá", as I call him, passed away years ago, but my grandmother is still there, hoping to come here and be with us.

The American government does not want her here because she could become a drain on the system.  We have filled out paperwork saying we will take care of her, but they still won't allow her to come.  I love spending time with people that have been around for a long time.  I'm really into history and like hearing their stories.  I spend a lot of time talking about the old days with my wife's grandmothers, they're kind of my own grandmothers now.

When we were in Cuba, my grandmother was the one that tried to keep everyone from saying the wrong things, talking too loudly against the government, etc.  "The walls have ears, shh......" she would always say.  She is now somewhat senile, and has taken to standing on our porch and railing against communism.  She yells out, "what are they going to do to me now!, they've taken everything I had already!, my son, my grandkids, I'm old and senile, come get me you bastards!"

I love my grandmother.  I miss her every day of my life, and I hope to see her again one more time.  Feliz Cumpleaños Abuela!
Another favorite picture of mine. My grandmother is on the right. My family lived on a farm in this thatched roof hut with dirt floors. I like how everyone dressed up in suits and dresses when the photographer showed up. There's a dog and a few chickens walking around them.
This is a drawing I did of my grandmother on one of my trips back to Cuba
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