I don’t know what I was doing on the second of June. Too many “irons in the fire.” That’s what we used to say when we were trying to get things done and it seemed there weren’t enough hours in the day. Burning years off the candle late into the night.

Concern…that’s how we crossed paths. Concern for the “rain forest” of our species – our youth – on fire. That was my conclusion when I asked myself how we came to know each other. How else, when we were in conflict with time with little to no resources – only “dreams.”

There was no monetary compensation. Such were our resources that you used to laugh when I would say that “we had done so much with so little that we could probably do almost anything with nothing.” These thoughts grew from the responsibility of migrant life and the discipline of the Marine experience. Your conversations eluded to the lack of resources in rural conditions and the hard life growing up on a farm – factors that ignite such “dreams.” In many ways our childhood was not without adversity. That may have been the glue to our friendship and risk-taking.

We shared commonalities. Lost ourselves in the printed word. Held knowledge to be the laser beam. Understood the pen to be mightier than the sword yet we wielded the blade. I more so, never telling you of the consequences.

We lost track after I retired. Teaching at the California State University level was far from crossing paths with at-risk youth. Few colleagues walked the walk en un barrio or had worn combat boots. Potential projects I saw, others, unlike you, did not have the “dreams” of what could be. The starting gate was always questionable. Unlike we who were not concerned with where the journey started but, more importantly, how it ended.

Your last email gave no indication. You were in your element and only shared “dreams” of your work with the Ogallala Commons. The conflict with time never dissipated. There never was enough in a day or a year, and distance only added to the equation. When I heard Jimmy’s voice. I knew you had been too busy with closure, something we always made sure to do at the end of each meeting, gathering in a circle with the “rain forest” in fire. To end with a dream. A dream of hope for rain. The source of inspiration for change.

I’m proud and honored that we walked that walk together.

Farewell Amigo Mío,

“Y Que Tu Sol Sella Brillante” from an old Nahuatl saying.

This column was written by Hector R. Barrera, Ph.D., of Ceres, California, in honor of Alphonso Rincón.

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