Fridge Magnets

Posted: August 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

Among the many magnets on our fridge is one belonging to me. It is a black and white photo of Martin Luther King staring off into the distance with his fingers laced together. I bought it in the Kennedy Library in Boston on our first trip to America, it was a belated honeymoon for us, the year we got married, we bought a house and couldn’t afford to go on holiday. Anyway, that magnet has followed us from house to house and fridge to fridge and has always held pride of place right on the top right hand corner of the fridge door.

Dr King has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember. Like many other kids, when my Dad got home early enough from work, he would read me a bed time story. One evening however, he sat at the end of my bed with a book I didn’t recognise.  On the cover was a well dressed black man and as black men were a rare sight in Ireland in the 1970’s, it struck me immediately. My Dad explained who he was and how he wanted me to listen to one of his most famous speeches. He then started reading the “I have a dream” speech. I didn’t understand all of it but listened away. At a point towards the end of the speech, my Dads voice started to crack, I asked him what was wrong and he just smiled, hugged me tight and kissed me goodnight.

So, flash forward 30 odd years and my wife is back from a short trip to the states. Herself and her buds had been to Memphis to see Graceland and while there, went to the civil rights museum which is housed in the Lorraine Motel where Dr King was shot. Knowing my admiration of the great man she picked up a beautiful parchment with the “I have a dream” speech printed on it.

When she got home, I was unravelling the parchment and my four year son was sitting on my knee. I was reading through the speech for him and after a while my voice began to crack and I stopped. The little lad gave me a big hug and a kiss and told me “every thing’s going to be OK Daddy”. I hugged him back really tight and gave him a chocolate biscuit.

  1. Des Groome says:

    This is a beautiful post and would make a great motivational speech.
    The dream moves and changes as we grow older but those of us who keep a vision, however vague, have a weapon of optimism inside us to face the darkest days. Your father’s dream wasnt Reverend King’s dream. He probably wasnt a Black man from Alabama, no more than my father was. But he passed on to his son a sense of idealism and a sense that the world can be better and people can make it so. As you now have to your son. Reverend King’s idealism resonates with us in the same way that Ted Kennedy’s famous “The dream lives on” speech does. Kennedy, the flawed, tragic, privileged younger brother who became a statesman and symbol of hopeful tireless public service.
    My middle child James is five and starts school tomorrow. He had open heart surgery in July 2009. This was his second heart operation as the first one at 18 months old had failed to repair a congenital aorta and valve defect. Unfortunately he is our second child to have the same surgery for the same rare heart condition. As a parent in Crumlin all you can do is sleep there, stay there and grimly stick up for your child. I was a fairly lukewarm Catholic before, but watching two of my children helpless in hospital finished me altogether with ritual observance, replacing it with grim secular optimism.
    James is about six inches taller this evening than he was last July and his main worry now is how he’s going to get on with “the homework”. His dad will be more upset at 9.15am tomorrow than he will be. I too will share my values and vision with him as he grows, as you have. The dream and optimism begins at home.

  2. Jazzygal says:

    Lovely post. And what a lovely ideal to pass on from generation to generation and evoking such empathy in a four year old. Love it.

    magnets I don’t have…but key rings? Yes key rings I have! The funny thing is, both my husband and I have a key ring each with our names on, from Las Vegas and Orlando. From before we knew each other!

    Your wife went to Graceland??? Now..I am so jealous. ‘Cos my hero was Elvis…..sigh….

    xx Jazzy

  3. irishminx says:

    Food for the heart Alan 🙂

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