Father’s Day in Cuba

Irina Echarry

Photo: Caridad

On Saturday I went into a store ready to wait in a long line to buy a nutritional supplement (I don’t know why they sell them in the perfume section).  However, after 20 minutes I left empty handed.  The line hadn’t moved an inch as all of the women simply stood there in front of each handkerchief or flask of cologne deciding on the colors, scents and/or price for their father’s day gift.

This was in a small store, without air conditioning.  The products were far from the view of the majority of the would-be buyers, which meant that every few minutes someone would yell out asking about a price or the content of one of the flasks.

In addition to the women’s moans and groans concerning each one’s lack of money, and how all of them were there obligated to buy a gift so that “so-and-so won’t get mad.”  Dissatisfaction reigned.

All of this commotion did nothing but make me upset, so when I came out of that store I took a trip to my childhood.

I imagined myself sitting on the floor with my brother trying to write affectionate phrases on greeting cards that we created using crayons and watercolors.  My mother often contributed with some photo that she’d taken.  When the morning of the third Sunday in June arrived, we would rush into my father’s bedroom to wake him up with tickles, as we might do on any other day of the year.  My dad’s happiness during those moments is a treasure in my memory.  Nothing was said about money or commitment.

That’s why when I think back to sitting on his lap hoping for him to pull a piece of candy out of my ear, or writing with a pencil that had a papier-mâché head that he himself had made, I can still see him talking to my brother when he didn’t want to take a bath or taking a table out onto the balcony because “today we’re going to eat outside.”

For a long time I haven’t believed in specially designated holidays.  I’m of the opinion that every moment is important and that each day of the year one can recognize loved ones.  Still, most people don’t think like this.  They go along with celebrating specific dates for recognizing mothers, fathers, grandparents, children etc.

Today is father’s day, and though mine hasn’t been with us for more than 20 years, I’m glad my memories don’t reflect back to any anguish of jockeying to obtain the mandatory gift.  Instead, I recall the happiness of sharing the love that he himself helped sow.