Dreams Do Come True

Financially deprived. Yes, that's the perfect way to describe how it all began. My parents were uneducated out of necessity. Both were raised during the Depression and had quit school to help support their families.

My father was one of eight children. My mother was the third child of five. Her father died when she was four years old. Her mother didn't remarry until all of her five children were raised. My grandmother was an extraordinary lady.

I am the first born of five. Female was a confusing gender in my family. Were they the breadwinners and heads of the family as in my mother's family? Or were they supposed to be modern-day Cinderellas, like my dad thought; staying within womanly domains, learning skills that would eventually be of some value to a wife, like taking care of a household and children? That was the path my sister chose. Me, well, I did learn to dust.

Don't misunderstand me. My dad loved me and had hopes for me, as long as any dream I had stayed within the boundaries of those dreams deemed appropriate for the poor side of town. My mom, on the other hand, was always telling me there was a star out there, it had my name on it and it was my job to hitch my wagon to it. I was her hope. She wanted me to go where she had never been able to tread.

By second grade, I was convinced that somewhere along the way, my parents had forgotten to pick up a couple of checks. One, I was quite sure, was sitting somewhere, written for the explicit purpose of a pink lunch pail with matching thermos just for me. I had a desperate desire to fit in. I wanted to belong, thus, our story... out of nowhere appeared the ultimate opportunity. A flyer was passed around for joining Brownies.

In second grade, in a small town in Oklahoma, Brownies is the quintessential little-girl experience and quite necessary for success in any future marriage or business venture. Needless to say, I was devastated, as was my mother, when she had to explain that I couldn't be a Brownie because we were not able to afford the uniform and dues. My chances for belonging, blending in and being accepted were dim. My dad told me dreams don't come true for poor people.

I remember spending my recess time alone, praying that my dad wasn't right about dreams or life. I wanted to believe that worth wasn't just about money and that even if you didn't have money, dreams could still come true. Otherwise, hitching my wagon to a star was going to be impossible. But if miracles did exist, I still had a chance with both my wagon and the Brownies.

My second-grade teacher, Mrs. JoAnn Stone, saw me huddled alone outside at recess one day and came over to find out what the problem might be. I told her that there wasn't a problem, I was just having a talk with God about being a Brownie. She asked me, "Why the talk with God?" "I might not get to be a Brownie," I replied. "My mom can't afford a uniform and the dues, so I was hoping that God could give me some ideas."

Several days later, as my seven-year-old faith was being pushed to its limit, Mrs. Stone asked if I could stay after school for a few minutes. After school that day, she took me into her office and locked the door. She noticed my concern, smiled and told me that she had a surprise for me. I was greatly relieved to know she wasn't mad. She opened a box. I couldn't believe my eyes! A Brownie uniform!

I knew God had answered my prayers. I knew Mrs. Stone was the kindest woman in the whole world and I knew from that moment on, that my father was wrong. Not because he was bad, but because someone had lied to him and he had believed them. I only wished he had had Mrs. Stone as his second-grade teacher. Then he would have known, dreams can come true.

When I put on my uniform, I knew I wasn't meant to be just poor. I was meant to be something wonderful. . . . I was meant to be a Brownie.

The big event in Brownies was the Father-Daughter Dinner. Only fathers were allowed to attend with their daughters. I had never had an evening out alone with my dad.

One day, my mom found an old pedal sewing machine. She asked the man who owned the building how much he wanted for it and he told her she didn't want that old machine because it didn't run very well. He told her it was more of a headache than anything else.

She said she had children who needed clothes and the old machine looked wonderful to her. He felt sorry for her and sold it to her for five dollars. She hand-wound the bobbin, cleaned and oiled the machine, and bought some material at a garage sale for a nickel a yard. She made a beautiful dress for me to wear to the dinner.

I thought that my dad was the handsomest man there. At one point the fathers and daughters began to sing "Wish upon a Star" together. My dad lifted me up and stood me on a chair and we did one of the things he loved most... we sang in harmony. He had a glorious voice.

There were tears in both our eyes as we finished singing. He leaned over and whispered into my ear, "When I look at you, my little Brownie, you make me believe in miracles."

I'll never forget that moment. I imagine that he hasn't forgotten either. For a moment, we weren't poor. For a moment, none of that mattered. We were a father and a daughter experiencing one of the richest moments of a little girl's life.

In that moment, miracles were as real as we were and the hope created for me out of that experience, has led me forth ever since. Dreams do come true.

Dawn L. Billings, M.A., L.P.C.
c) 1999 from Chicken Soup for the Soul

"Persistence is Hope With Enthusiasm"

Have a great day!