I was born in May of 1955. At the end of that summer, which my family was spending in Varadero Beach, Cuba, as usual, a friend of my mom’s came to visit to meet the new baby.
Her name was Conchitica. [NOTE: "Concha" is the Spanish word for shell, as in a Conch Shell.] This particular “Concha” was the third in that descendency to receive the ubiquitous family name. Concha was the grandmother. Conchita, the mother. And this person was saddled with the hyper-diminutive Conchitica, or Concha The Third, but that’s not important right now.
Conchitica had just returned from the opening of a brand new amusement park in California, USA.
- An amusement park for children where life size animals existed and moved, yet they were not real.
- A boat cruise through a real jungle!
- A tree-house right out of Swiss Family Robinson.
- There were real trains and fairy tales that had come to life.
- A gorgeous carrousel.
- A rocket to the moon.
- A larger-than-life, but not-as-big-as-real-life castle.
“You must take your children there!” She insisted to my mother, who was still recovering from the birth of her 6th and last child at the age of 41.
“It’s a magical place that must be experienced in one’s lifetime.”
“California?!” my mom balked. “I WISH!” She imagined taking the baby in her arms to this magical place.
But no. Impossible. California was not only 3,000 miles away, it was in another country. A foreign country. It was another world. A complete impossibility. She could only wish.
Because, you see, her life was set. She was Cuban and Havana was her home. She had her husband and her six children and her life was what it was. She would never get to California, let alone the magical amusement park, but still she was fascinated.
Ah, but she had made The Wish.
And The Wish took on a life of it’s own.
Fast-forward eighteen summers (and a lifetime!) later. My mom and dad and the two youngest of the six children can be found living just blocks from the original Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, California. In fact, during the summers, all we had to do was to go sit outside on the porch at 9:20 each night to enjoy the fireworks from Disneyland.
But… that was impossible! California was so, so far from our island home. Not just geographically, but in our imaginations.
But now, as I write this, I’ve lived in California for the majority of my life. As my mother held me and listened to the stories Conchitica had to share, she couldn’t have imagined it.
And yet, here we are.
As soon as I finish this post, we’re going to Disneyland for a few hours for lunch and the parade and maybe to ride the Jungle Cruise. It’s my favorite ride. (I know. Uber-dork.) Because as a very small child, I heard stories of a wonderful cruise through a life-like jungle that had captured my mother’s imagination.
I swear that I get emotional when I ride that ride. Because I always think back to Conchitica and The Impossible Wish. And it makes me realize that we sometimes think that things are set in stone, but God has other plans. We can’t imagine the life that awaits us.
At least I couldn’t. And neither could my mom. And yet, here we are.
And life is good. Better than we could have wished…
“A dream is a wish your heart makes…”
(This story has appeared in another form on MBFCF)