For my father, a pair of bloodstone cufflinks has come to represent a piece of him that was lost just after he was born: Julio, his father. Julio was a native of Ecuador, where he was educated and served as captain of the Port of Guayaquil. As a man with a leadership position, his bloodstone cufflinks became a pivotal part of his wardrobe, one that conveyed professional stature. Because bloodstone’s meaning is rooted in Jesus’ crucifixion, these cufflinks also grounded him in Catholicism—the most pervasive belief system in Ecuador. During the late 1940s, Julio immigrated to America in order to join the United States Merchant Marines; the timing, legal status, and purpose of his immigration proved to be an exception to the broader Ecuadorian historical trends. While he could only bring a few belongings with him, his bloodstone cufflinks were among those chosen—which is a testament to his desire to prove himself as a viable member of American society. Once settled in America, Julio used his professional background and native language to his advantage. He became a Spanish professor at the Miami School of Languages, where he met his wife. Julio died shortly after his marriage before having the chance to meet his child—my father. But, his legacy lives on. Recently, a piece of him resurfaced, too. My grandmother found his bloodstone cufflinks and presented them to my father. Now, the cufflinks serve as a bridge from the New World to the Old World—one that my father never knew.
– Emily Sasso