Life Advice



How two friends from Cuba lost touch, then reunited in the US -- after 60 years apart

Théoden Janes, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Dating Advice

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Her iPhone rang, and Terry Diego made a face.

The call was coming from an unknown number, and Terry doesn’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Her husband Emilio does, though, so she passed her device to him.

This was not even two years ago. It had, to that point, been just another ordinary day of enjoying retirement for the Diegos, who live in the Sun City Carolina Lakes community in Indian Land, South Carolina. But Terry was about to get the biggest surprise she’d had in her seven decades on earth.

“I picked up the phone,” Emilio recalls, “and I heard a lady speak in Spanish. She appeared to be a bit distraught. She was very anxious. She was asking for Teresa” — Terry’s given name — “saying, ‘I’m her friend Lilly.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute.’ I went to my wife and gave her the phone, and I said, ‘This is Lilly calling you.’ She looked at me like, What the hell are you talking about? You’re pulling my leg.”

The only Lilly she knew was a Lilly who she hadn’t heard from in about 30 years.

Who she hadn’t seen in the flesh since the summer of 1962, when Terry’s mother and father left their home country of Cuba with barely more than the clothes on their backs to start a new life in the United States.


Since they were 11 years old.

When Terry came onto the phone, Lilly was so overcome with emotion that she could barely speak. Terry, meanwhile, couldn’t contain herself; she kept asking Lilly where she’d been all these years, what had happened to her, how she’d managed to finally track her down.

“I was in disbelief,” Terry recalls. “I never thought I would hear from her again. It was a lot of years that had passed. I figured she had moved out of the country, or she was living someplace else in Cuba. ... I thought maybe she was dead!”

The women both laugh.


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