A Ring of Gold
A Look Back at the Beginning
by Jennifer Gutierrez
A strand of light hits my grandmother’s wrinkled hands, and for a second I see the small band of faded gold shine on her fourth finger. She looks at it warmly, for it symbolizes what we all have come to Miami to celebrate, her fifty years of marriage. Yet despite her happiness now, she reveals to me that not all of her fifty years since her marriage have been kind.
“Only a few years after we were married, Castro took over,” she begins to explain in broken English, “And it was after that when everything changed.”
Cuba had been my grandmother’s home since she was born, and she had expected it to be so until she died, but with the rise of such a dangerous dictator she soon found out how hopeless this dream was.
“When Castro took over, everyone was afraid,” she pauses, searching for the right words, before continuing, “The government say you do what we want or we kill you. They break into my house and write down everything I own saying it is theirs and they need to keep records of their belongings so that I don’t try and steal it. But it is they who are the thieves; they take everything we own, even my wedding ring.”
My eyes dart back to her finger, the gold band sits there as though it always had since the moment the vows had been made, but my grandmother then explains to me that this is not the case.
“They took my ring away from me, just like they did everything else. Your grandfather gave me this ring a few years after we come to America with your father, but when we come we had nothing but each other,” she pauses once again, reaches over, and takes my hand in hers. “Jenny, we came not knowing the language, the culture, or any people. Some people resent that and they try to pull you down, but you don’t let them. Other people come to America because they couldn’t find work or food, but you know why I come here? I come here for freedom. No one is going to control my life; no one has that right. So I come here and I work hard; I worked and made a life for myself.”
She then smiles, revealing every line in her face, and the light in her eyes. She is happy with her life, and with who she is, but she has never forgotten where she came from.
Around us, the party is just beginning, and there must be at least two hundred people there. Many of them are from the same town she used to belong to in Cuba, and many are people like her that she has met while living in America, but all are her family. There’s a bond of loss and struggle that they all share together and have shared for over fifty years. Sitting here I am reminded of how cruel the world can be, but also of how strong the roots of love can grow, and how much they can flourish even with sacrifice. With this experience, I then realize that the seeds of hard work and faith are planted within me and because of it, I can go on knowing that I am able to face any obstacle that awaits me on life’s journey. And although all dreams may not last forever, family does, and their love will remain with me no matter where I may go.