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Cuban grandmother arrives in U.S. for Christmas with family

The best Christmas present ever: grandma and a new life in the US
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Posted at 5:58 PM, Dec 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-23 18:21:38-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The wait seemed as slow as Christmas. “A few extra minutes feel like a year,” said Yadira Peña, standing at the F gate at Tampa International Airport. The anticipation was thicker than eggnog and gingerbread molasses.

“I’m to hug her and kiss her,” said Yamila Peña.

Three generations of a Cuban family that arrived in the United States 14 years ago awaited the arrival of Arahi Lorenzo.

“It’s going to be the best Christmas ever. This is the best present you can ask for,” said Yamila Peña.

“We actually found out she was gonna come yesterday,” said her grandson Pedro Fernández. It would be the first time Lorenzo ever left her island nation, flying 300 miles on a Havana Air flight.

“In 2020, I started all the paperwork, so it’s two years,” said Yadira Peña.

“It’s a long process and it was delayed because of Covid. So we’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Yamila Peña.

Long enough for a little boy to become a young man. “Last time I saw grandma was four years ago. I was in sixth grade,” said Pedro.

But this time, things will be different. “She’s going to stay. I am a citizen now, so I did all her paperwork, so she’s coming as a lawful permanent resident,” said Yadira Peña.

As family members watched each tram arrive from the gate, they planned their future. “Now I’ve got to take care of her. She took care of us growing up now it’s our turn to do it for her,” Yadira Peña said. When Arahi finally appeared, her whole family broke down in tears. “Very excited and emotional,” Lorenzo said.

When I asked what it was like to start a new life she replied, “Spectacular!”