Ientered the world on April 23, 1945, in La Habana, Cuba. My mother, Blanca, claims she had to spend three months in bed prior to my arrival. She was twenty years old when she was forced to suffer through eighteen hours of excruciating labor in my paternal grandparents’ home.

After my parents married on June 2, 1944, they could not afford a residence of their own, so the newlyweds settled into my paternal grandfather’s house. It was verging on cramped, with just two bedrooms and one bathroom in the Vedado section of Habana but they all lived comfortably together until I was born the following year.

My father was born Luis del Carmen but he was a macho man and, being another name for the Mother Mary, del Carmen was gradually phased out ...

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