Last night, Mari took me to a birthday party for the father of a good friend of hers. The man, who turned 90, immigrated from Spain to Cuba in his early 20’s and, then, fled Castro’s dictatorship at 45. At 90, he is more vibrant, more full of life, and more full of joy than most people I’ve encountered, despite having experienced so much turmoil and difficulty in his lifetime, and his party was a celebration of Spanish heritage and Cuban culture. The teenagers danced traditional dances, and everyone sang Spanish songs. His daughter-in-law told jokes, and he relished the youth and energy, smiling all night. In short, it was a wonderful experience.
His and his son’s lives are symbols of all that makes this nation so wonderful. Paco, the father, was welcomed into our nation to escape a totalitarian regime that controlled every aspect of its citizens lives. Once here, he worked hard to provide for his children and offer them better lives than he had. Frank, the son, studied accounting in college and has built a very successful real estate business. He is proud of his Hispanic heritage and embraces that culture as his roots, but he is first and foremost an American. Whenever I am around him, I soak up his intelligence and passion for life. He’s a living, breathing example of the American Dream.
Last night was a great experience for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been welcomed into their home and allowed to share in their celebration. Life is a beautiful thing, and I’m a fortunate person to have such so many great friends, family that loves me, and the two best sons a man could ask for.