Sharing Dreams

In 1997, I was a student in the inaugural class of the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Living and working in the city, I occasionally met my father, Walter Dudycz, who was an Illinois State Senator at the time, for breakfast when he wasn’t in session. We often talked about his political and my literary endeavors.

One morning over waffles, he mentioned a colleague of his who particularly impressed him. Even though my father was a Republican and this man a Democrat, my father was struck by the younger statesman’s integrity and charisma. My father recounted an anecdote about the early days of this newly elected Senator.

As an Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, my father often presided over the legislative proceedings. Whenever a senator addressed the chair, protocol required him or her to address the presiding officer as Mr. President or Madam President. During a lull in the proceedings that my father was presiding over, he approached Illinois State Senator Barack Obama to ask how he was enjoying his experiences as a freshman legislator.

Addressing my father as Mr. President, Senator Obama explained that he was enjoying his time very much. My father responded that while Senator Obama may have had hidden aspirations to be President someday, my father was content with being called Walter. This was the beginning of a friendly working relationship, where the two family men occasionally shared details about their personal lives.

When my father mentioned that I was in the process of writing my first novel, Senator Obama revealed that he had recently published his first book. The next day, the Senator handed my father a first edition of his book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, inscribed with:

“To Valya – I understand I’ll be reading one of your books
soon! I wish you all the best! Warm Regards, Barack Obama.”

Senator Barack Obama's Inscription to Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Since then, I have followed U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s political career with interest, drawn as so many others are to his enthusiasm and sincerity.

I would love to send Senator Barack Obama an autographed first edition of my novel, The Silence of Trees, and to be able to address it to “Mr. President.”

I hope that someday both of our dreams will come true.

Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of THE SILENCE OF TREES and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya.

5 thoughts on “Sharing Dreams”

  1. Randy Nichols says:

    I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    – Randy Nichols.

  2. Jesse Self says:

    Such a beautiful story!

  3. Arlene Horowitz says:

    In 1968, fresh out of college, I landed a job on Capitol Hill for the House Education and Labor Committee. I was stationed in the basement of the Rayburn building and became very friendly with the staff of a Chicago congressman, Roman Pucinski. One of my closest friends there, David McAfee, eventually returned to Illinois and became a state legislator. David and I lost touch more than 30 years ago, but I learned a few years ago that he died. I tried to contact his family and sent them photos but my letters were never answered. Did your dad know David? What happened?

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