Five copies of the book, thanks to Atticus (see previous post), arrive. I open one copy to make sure they have the dedication right before showing it to my wife, Margarita. I leaf through the pages and am glad to recognize the names of old friends always with me: Shaw and O’Neill, Las Casas and José Martí.
As always close to Father´s Day I think of my father, of his time in Vietnam, and wish he were here to see this. I remember the lines by Martí through which I always evoke his memory:
When I was honored
by the generous land
I did not think of Blanca, or Rosa,
or of the greatness of the gift.
I thought of the poor artillery man
who lies silent in his grave.
I thought of my father, the soldier;
I thought of my father, the worker.
I think of my daughters, but I will see them soon enough, and give them a copy of the book. I think of my son—far away in New York—but his copy will be dedicated and sent soon too.
I think of my friends, Bob and Lee—U.S. veterans both—to whom these lines (also by Martí) apply:
The leopard has his coat
in the dry and tawny mountain.
I have more than the leopard,
because I have a good friend.
I think of former students, those who served and survived our wars (like Jay and Marshall), and those who did not—like those who perished in El Salvador because they performed an anti-war play.
Then I come back to Atticus (Arthur does not swim yet, he is only beginning to walk), who is pleased when he recognizes my photo on the back cover of the book. Other lines by Martí, recalled from The Golden Age, shine brightly before me: “For the children we work, because children know how to love, because children are the hope of the world. And we want them to love us, and take us to their heart.”
Is it always like this? Only at the end of work, when the struggle is lost or won, do you realize why you labored? Only then do you get your impatience with the fatuous reverence of Founding Fathers and Mothers. Only then do you see (along with Bernard Shaw), that you are right in worshipping not your ancestors, but your descendants.