Wayne B – A Late Bloomer

My father was a first-generation Cuban American born in Florida in 1910. His father went to Jesuit school in the Canary Islands before settling in Cuba. I imagine that his spiritual-ness came from his upbringing and mixing with various Hispanic groups during his life. He sampled their many different flavors of religions.

As I was growing up in NY City and participating in our Episcopalian church by being a choir member and altar boy, my father rarely attended church with me, my mother and brother.

When I was to be married, I agreed to my future wife’s request to convert to Roman Catholicism which was hardly a change for me.

In 1990 my father retired, and he would spend his time translating Allan Kardec’s books from Spanish to English perhaps to pass them on to me so that I would understand his beliefs. This was never verbalized.

I moved to New Jersey and brought my kids up in the R.C. church and when he showed me his translation pads, I never gave it the time I should have. I knew that the books he was translating were ‘religious’ books but other than that, I knew nothing more nor cared. 

My father rarely shared his thoughts of spirituality and kept it to himself. He died in 2000 and I helped my mother by going through his things with my older brother. I again saw one of the books he was translating, ‘El Libro de los Espiritus’ – The Spirit’s Book.

Ten years passed and prior to one of our family dinners at my mom’s apartment in NY City, I was inclined to search the now blossoming internet for that book title and I found its English translation, which I bought. I brought it with me to the dinner thinking it would be funny to show that an English version had already been published as early as 1939 and remark how his efforts had been for nothing.  After showing everyone the book that evening, my brother took me to his car and opened up the trunk.  There sat a box of my father’s translation pads and his books with the book ‘El Libro de los Espiritus’ on top.  My brother thought it was an odd coincidence that prior to leaving his house he felt motivated to finding this box in his basement and bringing it with him.  He didn’t bring the box into the house because he didn’t know why he brought it in the first place. But even now he felt it to be nothing more than a coincidence.  My brother was pretty much a nihilist, thinking that there was nothing after we died. I, on the other hand, had a chill go through my body. I felt that it was more than coincidence.

Over the years I became less interested in Roman Catholicism even though I loved it for its great sense of community but I had many questions which weren’t answered to my satisfaction.

Once again life continued and I forgot about that book for many more years but in 2015 after retiring at 60, I was moved to find it on my shelf and share the experience that my father had twenty years before.

Upon reading, I found that the book was describing how I personally felt about spirituality. My beliefs up until then was a patchwork of what I cobbled together from the books that I read and experiences I had. And now I knew that there were others that thought like me, I wasn’t alone.

I became focused with finding these other believers and meeting them.  Prior to this time, I had never heard the term Spiritism before. I learned that they gathered not in churches or temples but in centers. It took me a while to find an English-speaking center because many were dedicated to Portugues and Spanish but I was determined to push myself into attending their meetings. 

It was a pivotal point in my life. I was with people ‘like me.’ I met so many nice people like Julio, Karla, Domenic, Pete, Luiza, Joe and others.

Those unanswerable questions I had are now being answered to my satisfaction and I’m learning how to be a better version of myself. Which is pretty much what it’s all about. It’s not easy trying to be better but the satisfaction of knowing that I’m progressing is fulfilling.

I am left with the thought that I should have paid more attention to what my father was trying to show me all those years ago.