This I Believe

Lindajoy - Sebastopol, California
Entered on October 11, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: hope, legacy

I believe that dreams come true even if it takes a lifetime. Even if it takes more than a lifetime, dreams come true.

My father dreamed of going to Spain but it was I who lived out his dream long before I knew he had a burning desire to go there.

Albert Fenley was 22 when he wrote a poem about his “logical passion” to visit the Iberian Peninsula. I was 22 when I went to Spain and stayed two years. I didn’t realize there was a connection until just the other day. I didn’t even learn he spoke Spanish until I was an adult; he had died when I was ten.

After discovering my father’s poem in one of his musty old journals, found long after I went to Spain and almost fifty years after he died, I put his poem to memory. I love reciting it because I share his view that one travels to use language and to make connections with other cultures. For us, people are more important than monuments.

My father was a merchant marine cadet in 1937, embarking on his second round-the-world voyage when he wrote, “in no uncertain terms, I am a dreamer…long before the obsession to go to sea had possessed my logical machinations, I had a strong desire to go to Spain. Now it is becoming a strong passion… not an unguided passion, but a logical one to make the most of the years I have spent studying that language.”

I call his poem “A love for the language:”

It is not for the clamor of beauty and glamour.

or señoritas dark eyed and tall,

nor the castles of Spain, or Granada’s terrain,

but a love for the language, that’s all.

This may sound unwise or of faulty disguise,

but it is indubitable true.

That the tongue of the land offers much more to a man

than a castle of simple grandeur.

As years go by and decades fly

Into centuries old and young,

rusty hangs the gate, a castle’s ill fate,

but immortal the racial tongue.

So now with me, you must agree,

nothing’s greater than tongue or pen.

for a man may strive to forever survive,

but his language lives after him.

Young Al said he didn’t have enough money for his dream. At 22, he said his “ambitions are forced to hibernate undeveloped.” He couldn’t live out his dream during the busy years he attended the University of California or during his Navy career that followed. There was neither time nor money for a trip to Europe while he and my mother began raising four children. He died in 1958, before he could realize his dream.

I had the money to go to Europe when I was 22 because I saved part of the college scholarship stipend the Veterans Administration provided to dependents of military men who died in service.

Daddy, your dream came true even if it took more than your lifetime.