Monday, November 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I can't remember too many important dates, but November 14th is always important to me.
Today is his 74th birthday.

Like a seasoned veteran, he had his routines. 
He would wake up at the crack of dawn, wait for mom to make him a cup of coffee and then get ready for the day ahead. 
I still remember how he would talk to me, sit at the table reading his bible or the newspaper, sit on his stool at the verandah in the evenings, or watch the telly with mum. I still remember how petrified I would be if I stayed up late when he would get up and stand at the door with the look that can melt cheese or the joy on his face when I come in and how he would come and wake me up at 9 am. He always wanted me to wake up late since I was 'on vacation'. I still remember the endless jokes he used to crack and the fun and sober times we had together. 
He was the life of every wedding party in the family and never let his circumstances cow him down. I also remember how upset I would be when he scolded me and how I used to never want to return. Yet, I would. I couldn't stay away from him for too long. We loved each other more than just as a father and son.
He would take me out to the beach and we would just sit there and speak in silence. Nothing had to be spoken. He already knew everything in my life. 
He had his regrets but never voiced them out once.

He passed on, 10 years ago. 
But if he was here, he would've still followed his ritualized routine and celebrated his birthday fielding calls from all his friends and family. 
He always wanted to live a complete life with his wife, traveling and exploring. Cyprus and Israel were at the top of his wishlist.
He would have taught me fishing and we would've gone on lots of fun road trips together. He was an incredible driver and was very proud of my driving. But more importantly, he would've wanted all of us by his side on this day. 

He wasn't the stereotypical man. He only spoke as much as he should. He only promised what he could keep. 

My fondest memory of him was when I was leaving Kuwait for the last time. 
He was seeing me off at the airport and I saw him weep, across the terminal. For the first time. 

Today, I want to remember his life and not the fact that he died. 
I want to remember the fact that he was an amazing husband, the gentlest father, and a doting grandfather.
He taught me every life lesson in love and fatherhood, without speaking a single word. 
He was smart and worked hard to get where he was. Everything the rest of us have is because of how hard he worked. He hadn't missed a day at work until he was diagnosed. 

I remember how he gave, freely. I remember how he loved, without expectations. 
I remember how he never stopped loving his wife. My parents loved each other with a devotion that defies logic. He was a Christian and she a Hindu. They married at a time when
it was taboo to marry someone outside their religion. But we were given the best of both worlds. She would participate in the holy communion and he would pray at temples. He touched the lives of many people with his life. 

If he were here today, I would travel to be with him. 
I would wake up early just so that I can spend an extra hour with him. I would stay up late just so that I hold him.  
But he isn't.

Every other day is passable and birthdays are not supposed to make you cry but you can never stop grieving. The tears will flow. The pain is still raw. 
Not having a parent (or partner) you love is perhaps the most debilitating experience in life. A part of you that was, is never the same again. 

Like any other child, I wouldn't accept the fact that our parents will die in our lifetimes. 
I guess I still can't accept the fact that he did. 
It's the reality but not being able to see him and hug him and hold him and hear from him is excruciating. Yet, I know he is up there. Immune from all disappointment, agony, distress and pain.

Today, as I celebrate his birthday, I know I'll be happy if I am half the man, husband and the father that he was. 

Happy Birthday, Daddy! It will always ache that you aren't physically here, but you are always within me. Until the day I see you again.

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