THE STORIES PATTY SHARED WITH ME reminded me of how much family has to do with your personal life. Nationalities, political views, religious beliefs, or cultural allegiances, in her account all come to be in the background, active, yet not as present. The family is the single-most powerful social unit over the course of a life time, the one whose influence has the most impact and importance on the life of the individual. In her account of her family migration, Patty mentioned several times how her parents decided for her what needed to be done and where to move, without asking her if that’s what she wanted. In a sense, this can be said to most children: parents are trained to guide their kids to what they think is in their best interest, even if sometimes it hurts.
As painful as it can be, the act of moving, in especial of migrating from one country to another, it is also a learning experience, one that forms how a person is and what that person will become. It shuffles beliefs and transforms basically their position within a cultural, linguistic, economic, social, and political spectrum. Migration involves severing, building, and strengthening ties to the homeland and the new home, whatever they might be. Although, Patty was very young when she was taken on the flight of her life from La Habana to Toronto, she remembers what that felt like, and is able to reflect on the repercussions migrating out of the island had for everyone in her family.
Her story is very similar to other migration accounts that we analyzed in class, and represents yet another testimony of how complex and colorful these transnational experiences. It is important that we keep a tradition of passing along stories like these to contribute to the general history of human movement in order to achieve a greater awareness of, not only the economics and the politics of migration, but of the social, cultural, and above all, the emotional roots and fruits of migration.
This project, more than helping me attain a grade, has uncovered the underpinnings of friendship between Patty and me; it has allowed me to dig a bit deeper into her memories and examine her life, which throughout this oral history, I have treated as a book, an open, refreshing, uplifting and candid sort of a book. It has also allowed Patty to reflect on her own story and rediscover some of the joyful memories that are not often talked—and in this case—, written about.