Hola from Cuba- (Universe Is Calling From Cuba, part 2)

Hola from Cuba- (Universe Is Calling From Cuba, part 2)

Photo by Kim Nicholais http://www.nicholaisphotography.com

“Did you see my phone? I can’t seem to find it.” I said to my spouse Kim. “No.” And we both began looking for it, with every turn of the suitcase my heart sank a little deeper. “I think I left it in a taxi last night, I saw a black object on the seat when you were getting out of the taxi and when I looked back it was gone, that must have been my phone, and it slipped into the seat or on the floor at that point!”

The pacing begins, “no, no, no, no I couldn’t have!”
But it was true. I left my phone in a taxi, in Cuba, and we were packing to go back to the US today.

All the pictures I took of our whole vacation in Cuba, gone. The music lessons I took and recorded, gone. The audio recordings of music and fun times in Cuba for the podcast, all gone. Not to mention how my life will be effected when I get back to the US. I need a new phone, but thank God for the iCloud I had a back up of contacts and apps. But the vacation, my life changing moment in Cuba, all gone.

I broke the news to the Potato Mafia, the 5 other girls we were traveling with. They all realized that all the pics that I had been taking were also gone, but somehow in life you motor on.

We headed to the airport and I called Andres, our guide to have him look out for Cesar and his car. I didn’t have the taxi number, but I had a lot of details that it wasn’t impossible. Driver’s name: Cesar, handsome, tall and thin, with longer black hair on the top, that flopped to the side over his shaved sides. Car: 1955 Chevy Belair, white and dark pink exterior with pristine white interior covered in plastic, so well taken care of, with suped up interior lighting.

The whole journey home, flashes of pictures and moments would pass through my mind as I remembered what I lost on my phone, but I did appreciate, as all the girls were logging onto the wifi on the plane that I was still unplugged. The lack of internet in Cuba was easy to keep from checking my phone every 10 minutes.

In returning to the city. I somehow figured out how to use an older iPhone we had as my new phone, since I was still paying for the current phone and it seemed a bit more manageable to know that I wasn’t going to be out of pocket for the loss. However, in order to get back on line with texts and phone service I had to go to ATT.

“Hello I’m Dennis, how can I help you?”

“I just returned from Cuba where I lost my cell phone and I need to activate this old one.”

“I just returned from Cuba.”

I took a second at him in. I recognized him, he was on both our flights to Cuba.

“You were on both my flights Thursday and Monday!”

He said, “JetBlue 242?”

Incredible. The universe seemed to seriously be in my favor and I really started to think there was a strong possibility that I might get my phone back. Not that this man had anything to do with my phone going missing or even knew the taxi driver. It just seemed, as a friend put it, ‘The Universe is looking for you!’

What are the odds that I would find a man from our flight of 200 people in NYC with over 8 million people? We wondered at the coincidence for a moment and he helped me set up my old phone. I was whole again, or atleast technically speaking. I briefly wondered as I wandered at the possibility of getting my phone back and put the powerful phrase out there to the Universe, “I will get my phone back,” this was Friday.

Sunday morning we woke up and were puttering around the house and I noticed I had a new comment here on Medium, someone needed to talk with me! I didn’t recognize the person and I thought, oh perhaps they wanted to use my article on Cuba or had a differing opinion than mine on Cuba. Since Medium was new to me, I thought this more likely. After checking in, I did what most Americans do, I bounced to another social networking site and I see the same name pop up in my “add new friend” on Facebook. I clicked on the image of the person to her profile and I yelled to Kim, who was in the office.

“Kiiiimmm, come here!” and she rushed in. “Look at that picture!”

“Cesar, that’s Cesar!” she screamed. Yes it is Cesar and I see there was a message that they have found my phone. Somehow with a locked screen, probably a dead battery, and a phone on airplane mode, they were able to find me on Facebook from another country, that has a lack of internet and infrastructure, they found me! “Hola, from Cuba!”

Hola From Cuba! Photo by Kim Nicholais

This story is still in progress, so I leave you with that. Anything is possible and all of this was less than a week of me losing it. Technology made this possible. I think of this and I really start to see the possibilities of connecting the world with technology. I see the benefits of keeping my Facebook profile, that I have been vacationing from this year as I have tried to dive back into my own personal life, I see how I can maintain relationships from afar and how I can even begin new ones from one country to another, no this technology isn’t new any more, this has actually been around for awhile, but I bet you thought Cuba wouldn’t know about Facebook!!! It is also not only the younger generation, our host Mildred somehow figured out how to rent her home via Air B&B and she is consistently full. Cuba is not that far behind, I expect true greatness to come from Cuba and I have a feeling it is going to come first in art, which we have heard through their music such as Buena Vista Social Club. Cuba celebrates, educates, and trains their artists to be the best and to focus, I have first hand experience with this, which I will account later, so follow for more stories of Cuba.

Cuba Can Wait

Cuba Can Wait

2 A painting by Andrés Yunior Gómez Quevedo, an International Cuban Artist, seems very appropriate for this post about the grace of life and its delicate balance

No, I have not forgetten about my goal to tell you stories of Cuba for 30 days, I guess they may not be 30-days consecutively, but it will be an adventure told over 30-days. You see, life takes precedence, no matter what. Lately, I have had to shift my own life to help my aging father with dementia. Of course, no one ever wishes for dementia when they get older, he is 77, but the odds are pretty high that someone in your family will struggle with it, if not yourself. So yes, Dad, Cuba Can Wait.

The scary part about helping my father is that I have had to learn everything about him, in such a short amount of time, because he needed help yesterday, so to speak. Banking access, bill habits, food habits, bathing habits, normal every day functioning habits. I had to work closely with my sister to help him and the two of us haven’t worked together on a project since we were kids, so managing his life became a real struggle for both of us. She has a family of 5, plus a dog and full time job as a teacher with students. I have a family of 4, my spouse and 2 kitties, and 1 recently diagnosed with cancer, a freelance job, and a 7-piece Soulful Rock Band, Sweet Little Bloodhound, but maybe you know that already. So yes, Everyone and Everything, Cuba Can Wait.

One thing that I have learned as I get older is that I am a caretaker. I jump in and help those in need, yet I can forget to take care of myself and my life in the process, early signs of dementia? Who knows, perhaps! That’s reality, caring for our father has brought up many different emotions for both my sister and I, but I can only speak to my own. Sometimes I think, is this going to be me? Will I suffer with dementia, will I forget to bathe, forget to go to the bathroom, forget if I spoke with someone on the phone today? Will I forget people’s faces in pictures, will I forget how to get home from the store, will I forget where I am? This could be me in the future. So yes, Dementia, Cuba Can Wait.

The other side of watching him go through this is that every time I see him, there is actually less and less of him there. It has become more and more of a struggle to do simple tasks or to even get him out of the house to the doctors. Allow 3 hours and know that you will still be late, so fake the time by an hour. Yet, if you asked my father if he still drives, he says “yes,” a scary thought, but his car is not working at the moment, so that is not possible. This is how we have managed that situation. We are both long distance to my father, 5 hours from NY and 2 hours from MA, so we have to plan visits to be efficient and know that when you get there the plan could be blown to hell because you just drove 5 hours to get him to the Urologist and you ended up being 12 mins late to the appointment with a 2 hour lead time and they wouldn’t see him. Plan so you can get the most done in the shortest amount of time. So yes, Father Time, Cuba Can Wait.

When you finally get around to figuring out the next steps for someone with dementia, you are faced with all the planning that the individual did ahead of time. Dad had nothing planned, no Healthcare Proxy, no Power of Attorney, no Will, no thoughts about what happens if…? Therefore, trying to get dad on track has proven to be a challenge and a lot of running around to town offices for deeds, marriage and death certificates, the VA for benefit information, talking to all the aides and helpers of my dad, and basically making a plan on the fly of how to move forward. Dad has always said, “I never want to be a burden to my daughters or to have my daughters involved!” Reality check if someone actually says this out loud, this is your window to talk about “end of life care,” my dad has said this for years, yet he never planned otherwise. There are other complications related to my dad’s situation, but if you are reading this and saying to yourself, “I don’t want to burden my ________ (fill in the blank)” the best thing you can do is to have your thoughts, your plans, your roadmap for the rest of your life available to your caretaker, because let’s face it, we are all going to need a caretaker when we get older. If you are lucky enough, it will be a spouse or a family member, if not you might actually have to “rely on the kindness of strangers.”1 Be prepared and be thoughtful and be kind to your loved ones, planning your end of life, death, and dementia plans are a must, this is the only way to assure that you will have your wishes carried out and you will be less of a burden on your caretakers. So yes, Death, Cuba Can Wait.

They say things happen in threes, so my dad has been slowly deteriorating over the last 2+ years and now my kitty has terminal cancer, I don’t look forward to the third, but I tend to believe in the cycle of life and the joy of birth following deaths, so I do look forward to the other side of grief as joy is never far behind. I see a lot of similarities in Cuba and the cycle of life. We have all been wondering what will become of Cuba now that their leadership has shifted and the borders are opening to the US, but I am more excited about what joy the Cubanos will bring to the world as they share their lifestyle, their passions, their resourcefulness, their art with us. So yes, Cuba, I Can Wait.

1 Tennesse Williams, Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire

2 Andrés Yunior Gómez Quevedo Cuban Artist kindly known to me as Harmony