The Story of Alberto

2005 was an amazingly bad year for Pennie and me.

Her mother died, my father died, and then we were brought horribly low by a financial surprise with two commas to the left of the decimal point. There was a period of weeks when it looked like all would be lost. The business, the school, our home, the cars, everything. For days at a time my eyes wouldn’t focus. I walked around wanting to fall to my knees and throw up.

But a strange scrap of paper kept everything in perspective. I found it on my father’s kitchen table after the police told me he had been found dead in his recliner. In his unique handwriting, it read, “All the little things in life add up to your life. If you don’t get it right then nothing else matters. It gets lonely in the promised land by yourself.”

That was it. Nothing else.

Things are fine now. God rescued Pennie and me from the belly of the fish. But that scrap of paper floated in front of blurry eyes again last week.

During the construction of Chapel Dulcinea I took several photos of her small crew at work. Daniel Denny had carefully selected these young men to help him accomplish the impossible. The five of them built Tuscan Hall and The House of Ten Doors and Chapel Dulcinea and the first half of Engelbrecht House in less time than is humanly possible. They did what can’t be done.

I was far too busy with emergencies and tragedies and the needs of my clients to take photos in 2005 but “All the little things in life add up to your life,” so I took the photos anyway, thinking, “Someday these will be important.”

A few weeks ago Ed Valdez translated for us what 22 year-old Alberto was saying.
“I have been sending all my money home to buy young cattle during my time in America and now my parents tell me that I must return and take care of my cows.”
He smiled. “My herd now numbers more than 40.” Alberto had quietly refused to learn English during his time in America, saying, “I will remain here only long enough to buy young cattle, then I will return to Mexico and marry a beautiful girl and be a rancher.” Every day Alberto’s softness and simplicity reminded me of Mr. Rogers from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

David Mendieta called a few days ago to tell us that his little brother, Alberto, had been stabbed and killed by a nut. I fell to my knees and threw up.

But then I remembered the photos.

They cannot patch the hole punched into the heart of Alberto’s mother by the knife that killed her son. But I sent her seven photos that show her boy working happily during his last days on earth, building a thing that will bring joy to the lives of thousands of young couples for decades and centuries to come.

“All the little things in life add up to your life. If you don’t get it right then nothing else matters.

Alberto Mendieta got all the little things right. Nothing else matters.

Roy H. Williams
March 12, 2006

Students and friends of Wizard Academy gathered from as far away as Canada,
Mexico, Germany and Australia to witness the unveiling of Wedding Chapel Dulcinea
just as Passover – the day of new beginnings – began. The date, April 23rd, was chosen because Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the most celebrated voice in Spanish literature, and William Shakespeare, the most celebrated voice in English literature, simultaneously graduated from this life on that day in 1616.

It was for them, like Alberto, a day of new beginnings.