Special to the Taylor Press
Losing a loved one is never easy. It's even harder when you can't say goodbye.
In her case, it was the law that prevented Maria Newman of Taylor from giving her dying grandmother in Cuba a proper farewell.
“The only thing worse was watching how that affected my mother,” Newman said. “She was distraught.”
With the trade embargo, travel restrictions and uneasy relations between Cuba and the United States, Newman's Ohio-based mother couldn't offer emotional support to her immediate family members in Cuba or attend her mother's funeral.
“It was out of the question,” Newman said. “It wasn't legal to travel there at the time, and she was told by the U.S. State Department that if she were to travel to through a third-party country, she wouldn't be allowed to re-enter America.”
She had to stay to protect her U.S. Citizenship and her livelihood, no matter the guilt and sadness she felt.
“That blockade (between Cuba and the United States) tore our family apart,” Newman said, clearly remembering when the tension began in 1959. “Our annual visits to the family stopped abruptly. Gifts stopped. It all stopped.”
At that time, Newman lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her parents and three siblings.
“My parents were proud, naturalized citizens of the United States,” she said. “And I was the first of four children born in America.”
All of her extended family lived in Cuba, so the ability to stay connected was of the utmost importance.
It still is. That's why she cried tears of joy when President Obama announced his intent to normalize relations with Cuba last December.