Older Cubans Go to the Head of the Line

Older Cubans Go to the Head of the Line

I’m trying to get everything caught up today. Tomorrow, I have to get my right hand fixed. The thumb joint has just about had it, so I get to have an arthroplasty. It’s a small operation in terms of area involved, but it sounds complicated and tedious. I am fortunate to be at one of the better hand surgery centers around, UNC Hospitals, and I am optimistic. Arthritis is just another one of the unpleasant aspects of getting old. I’m discovering these “aspects” on a more and more regular basis.

When we visited Cuba last year one of our excursions was to an elder day care center. Here the elderly members of a family could come for the day, be safe, get food, socialize, and then go home for the evening. This allowed the younger family members to work, gave the elders some social out of the home experience and was a generally win-win situation. There were probably twenty-five people in the home we visited in Regla. There weren’t any sick individuals, and the woman in charge of the facility had no special medical training. She was like most Cubans, simply a kind person with great respect for older people.

On Saturday I watched a show “The Secret Side of Cuba” on UNC-EX. It described the impoverished side of Cuban life and the difficulties encountered by most of the people. I had not thought about this as secret, but I guess it is. The gist of things was that the people are very poor, still oppressed, and in spite of this they remain optimistic, positive, and happy. The elderly people who are unable to work in the tourist industry or the black market suffer the most. Some sell newspapers; they make 2 cents a paper, typically 40 cents a day. Everyone stands in line; I’ve done this many times myself. One general practice is that the disabled and elderly go to the head of the line no matter if in line to get some government food or at Coppelia to get ice cream! The man in the back of the photo above was born in Cuba. He moved to Michigan as a young man to work in the auto industry. He regularly sent money back to his family, and when he retired, he moved back to Havana to spend the last phase of his life with his family. Family is extremely important in Cuba. He said that he was happy to be back, that his life had been ideal. His friend, in the front, had begun to suffer from dementia. He required closer observation which the Cuban-America-Cuban happily contributed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *