Author Returns To Island In Father’s Memory

April 27, 2024 | 2 Comments

[Written by Stephen Wright]

A best-selling author has made an emotional return to the island for the first time in 38 years to fulfil the wishes of her late Bermudian father and scatter her grandparents’ ashes.

Christina Dalcher is participating in the Convex End-to-End today [April 27] in memory of her father, Robert Luis Villafaña, who died aged 80 in September last year.

Born and bred in Bermuda, Mr Villafaña was the son of Pedro [Peter] José Villafaña, who arrived on the island on a fishing boat from Cuba in the Forties, working as a harbour pilot, deep-sea diver and civil servant at the US Naval Air Station and Lillian [Trixie] Petty, who worked at the Vera P. Card gift shop in St George’s.

“My dad didn’t have the opportunity to bring his parents’ remains back to Bermuda before he died and asked me to step up to the plate,” Ms Dalcher told Bernews. “I made a promise to my dad.

“I’ve so many memories of Bermuda from my childhood. It was the place where I came to see my grandparents.

“I remember the beaches, the brunches at the Hamilton Princess, and sometimes we’d go to the nightclub to watch Hubert Smith and the Coral Islanders. My mother was friends with him and his wife.”

Christina Dalcher

Ms Dalcher, who lived on the island as a baby before moving to the United States with her parents, added: “It’s my first time on the island since 1986 [when her other grandparents Alfred and Frances Sandelli sold their home].

“I’d no intention of returning, not because I don’t like Bermuda, I just didn’t want to come back as a tourist in a hotel.

“I thought, ‘Best leave paradise lost alone.’ It’s been a bittersweet return, but much more sweet than bitter.”

An avid runner, Ms Dalcher, who wrote the Sunday Times bestselling science fiction novel VOX, signed up for the Convex End-to-End soon after participating in the Bermuda National Gallery [BNG] Run for the Arts 5K last weekend.

“I didn’t intend to stay for the End-to-End; however, I saw signs for it, and thought, ‘I must do that,’ as I’d told my dad I was going to walk from one end of the island to the other one day,” said Ms Dalcher, who has donated three of her novels to the Bermuda National Library.

“I changed my flights and signed up immediately. I’m doing it in honour of my dad. It was only a year ago he and I were planning a trip to Bermuda.

“When he died, I realised there’s no more saying, ‘I’ll do it next week or next year.’

“At first, I was like, ‘I’ll do the End-to-End next year’, but then I was, ‘Oh, wait. Carp-e Diem!’”

The 56-year-old, who lives in Norfolk, Virginia, said she has not yet decided where to repatriate her grandparents’ ashes.

She has, however, applied to register her father, who served in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, as a Bermudian and intends to do the same for herself.

“The status registry didn’t exist when he was young,” she added. “I must thank the ladies down in the archives at the Department of Immigration. They couldn’t have been any more helpful.

“After spending 38 years away, my husband and I will definitely return to Bermuda. There’s so much history and more memories than I expected.”


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  1. martha harris myron says:

    Luis Villafana was a schoolmate at Mount St. Agnes Academy and an absolute class act. My condolences on losing your father, Christine. Sincerely, Martha Harris Myron

    • Hello Ms Myron!

      I am so happy to read your message and very sorry I didn’t see this in time for us to meet in person. Please feel free to contact Bernews and ask them to forward me your email or mobile if you would like. I am on my way to the States today, but will be back before long — I am hoping perhaps in September.

      I will also pass on your nice note to my mother — She is Georgine Sandelli Villafaña and we are trying to get her back to Bermuda for a visit in the near future.

      Hope to hear from you soon,

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