My father was born in Puerto Plata in 1943. My mother was born in Santo Domingo in 1963. I was born in Harlem in 1992, raised by two different decades of Dominicans. My father, a reverent member and teacher of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), was a a loyal man. He loved politics and his country more than he loved himself; often forgetting to take care of his declining health to make it to political meetings. That was my father. The man I grew up fearing because I grew up in my mother’s world. Here she was, a beautiful Dominican woman who worked as a jewelry salesperson in midtown manhattan and I was just like her. My father was strict. My father was impatient. My father wasn’t kind nor loving, not yet at least. But my mother, my mother was everything a young child needed. She showed me deep love and adoration. I grew up in her world, of fantastical fairytales and superstitions, of gossip and love. Gossip because that is what my aunts did when they congregated at each others homes. My mother, 20 years my dads junior, is a woman driven by the logics and rules of love. She loved life and her kids as much as my father loved Dominican Republic. She was very much his opposite despite them sharing the same birthday month.
I wasn’t scared of my mother, well not nearly as afraid as I was of my father. Her idea of punishment as a child was the silent treatment, my dad was more militant about it. Kneel in rice and stare at the wall, hold these brick in your hands and don’t drop them, that was his idea of punishment. Edith, my mother, pushed me away when I angered her or the family. Luis, my father, would break my spirit. Maybe thats why for the first 17 years of my life I never heard my father say anything remotely close to “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”. He was the Why didn’t you get an A+ parent whenever I got an A. But that all changed when I got accepted into Cornell, that was the first time I ever heard him say I love you and my whole world was shook.
I won’t write all of it in this one post but this is my overview. This is my declaration, to write about the two most important people in my life. I owe you the world mom and dad. I owe you everything.