Marisel De Jesús Vega

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Miriam Pérez Montes de Oca

YOU ARE THE AIR FOR MY LUNGS –

Miriam Pérez Montes de Oca was the prettiest girl in the town, slim with thick, black hair. Rafael Vega Llanes was tall, handsome and a baseball player. They were neighbors in a little town called Santiago on the island of Cuba. Santiago was a poor town but a nice place to live where the typical activity was the townsfolk gathering in the city plaza to socialize.

He fell in love with her when she was ten-years-old, just a little girl playing with dolls.  He used to pass in front of her house and just to catch a glimpse of her on her second floor balcony.  Because he was six years older, their love was platonic and so they remained just friends. As the years passed, he showed interest in other women and had many admirers. He was a man, after all. But none rivaled his impossible love for Miriam. But both were too proud to admit their love.

One day, Rafael saw Miriam in the plaza with another man. He was rich and owner of a hardware store. They sat on the wooden benches, amongst the plants, under the light of a beautiful moon. Witnessing this made him very jealous and sad. He felt something hot inside his body, a fire burning his organs. It made him realize he would lose her if he didn’t express his love. He began to court her with presents and poetry.

“I have loved you yesterday

I love you today

And I will love you tomorrow

What should I do to demonstrate that?

How can I prove you are the one and only?

I can’t stop thinking of you…

I love you more than anything else…

You’re the air for my lungs,

The blood for my veins,

The thoughts running through my head,

The smile on my face,

You are everything for me…

I want to be everything for you,

I want you to love me!”

Rafael Vega Llanes

But though Rafael was totally in love with Miriam, his reputation as a Casanova prevented her from giving in to his charms and was difficult to possess. But over time their friendship grew stronger until the fateful day that they were engaged.  It was the talk of the town, the love between the “tough guy” and the “delicate girl.”

Rafael Vega Llanes & Miriam Pérez Montes de Oca - 1964

They married in 1964, when she was nineteen-years-old and he was twenty-five-years-old. They conceived their first daughter in 1966, and named her Marisol. She was identical to her father, a worker and a fighter. One year later, they had their second daughter, Marjorie. Marjorie was like her mother, peaceful and delightful. They were a very happy family in the little island of Cuba but, like many Cubans of that era, they decided to leave.

Rafael Vega Llanes & Miriam Pérez Montes de Oca

First, they immigrated to Costa Rica and later, Puerto Rico. They have been living in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to this day. The years have brought them five exceptional grandchildren and many good friends. They soon celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

I’m their first grandchild and Marisol is my mother. I hope one day I too will have a beautiful “happily ever after” tale like this, to narrate to my grandchildren.

Miriam Pérez Montes

Born in San Luis in the province of Santiago de Cuba on May 1, 1943.

Died in her home in Coamo on August 27, 2011.

3 Comments

  1. Yo trabaje para don Rafael y su esposa hace mucho tiempo atras.No me habia enterado de la muerte de tu abuela,lo siento mucho.Quisiera saber como esta don Rafael de salud.Desde cleveland ohio Ramon Gonzalez

  2. What a beautiful love story. As I read it it seemed as a fairy tale love that every girl would like to live-at least once in life. Your grandmother would have been pretty happy and excited back in those days when she recieved the poem your grandfather gave her. People back then were so romantic and were not afraid to show their affections with letters. Great job the one you’ve done.

  3. What a nice love story! It reminds me of my aunt when she sits to tell me stories of that time and how men courted her and her friends. Married couples from that time are the ones who now last 40, 50, 60 years in unity. I’m sure they were an exceptional example to the family they created. It is a sad fact that married couples now a days don’t last until death.

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