Sharing Heritage By Keeping Memories Alive and Creating New Ones

by Melanie Edwards on October 5, 2011 · 2 comments

in Latino Culture, Puerto Rico

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

As I’ve mentioned before, my father has dementia. He was diagnosed with it about three years ago, but began to show symptoms close to six years now. His dementia manifests itself in many forms and shows in various things my dad says and does. Forgetting things is not all it’s about, but it does play a part, of course.

Two things my father holds on to very dearly are memories of Puerto Rico and music. He spends much of his day listening to the radio, old CDs and cassette tapes. He’s particularly fond of music he grew up with, especially boleros and other love songs sung by Trios Puertorriqueños, a popular grouping of three musicians. These songs remind him of his childhood in Puerto Rico, and those formative years we all cherish. He sings along and recounts memories that amazingly his mind refuses to let go.

Near Schoolyards beach, Aguadilla Photo: Molly Stevens

These memories sometimes get mixed up, but overall, he has a vivid picture in his mind of Puerto Rico back then. The Puerto Rico he mostly remembers is that of his life in Aguadilla, the city he was born in, and the city he lived in until his late teenage years. His memory of Puerto Rico dates back to the late 1940s through right around 1960, before his family moved to New York City. Of course, this is not the same Puerto Rico he saw when we last visited in 2009. Though we tried to show him the areas where he grew up and played, it was not recognizable to him, since his vision of Aguadilla is not what it currently looks like.

Una Mirada a Puerto Rico DVD by VmeWhen I received a complimentary copy of the DVD, Una Mirada a Puerto Rico, from Vme, a former sponsor of, I knew right away that it was a documentary my father would enjoy. Sure enough, when I first showed him the film, he immediately began to say things like, “Mira que bella…mi isla.” (Look at how beautiful my island is.) He sang along to the background music used in the film, recognized many sights, and quizzed me on my knowledge of various historical facts. He also continually expressed his wish of wanting to go back to Puerto Rico and visit the area where he grew up, forgetting he saw much of it just two years ago. In fact, every time he watches this documentary, he has the same reactions, since to him, each time is the first time he’s seen it.

Documentaries like these help people like my father keep memories alive. But, they also help create new memories when shared with a new generation. This film will allow my children to see imagery of and hear music from La Isla del Encanto (The Island of Enchantment), the island their mother was born in and that makes up half of their heritage. For that, I thank Vme.

How do you share your heritage and keep memories alive?

Custom Hispanic Heritage Banner by Justin Edwards
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Platanos, Mangoes and Me! October 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

I have mised a few of your posts and I do apologize, but coming back from being a month away in PR helping to take care of an ill friend, I was overwhelmed by so many posts to answer and a full inbox.  This post is lovely.  My Mom too suffered for many years with this dreaded disease, but she had her memories and I learned things from her past that I will treasure.  My dear,  be does not get better with time.  Be strong and patient and hang on to every moment.  Que Dios te bendiga a ti y a tu Papi!


BellaVida October 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I watched this show on PBS and really enjoyed it. I’m glad you found such a nice way to connect with your father.  Por casualidad my father is also from Aguadilla.


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