Tribute to My Father
My father transitioned on a Saturday, July 28; he was 85. It was not a difficult transition for us as his children, and I think it was time for him, too. The difficult part was the thought that he is no longer here. All that struggle to accept him for who he is, the pain of wanting more from him, and the anger that he did not fit the “ideal” concept of a father has all come to an end. All I can remember now is that he always had a smile, a gift, or a funny word to give to you as a parting gift—and even during his last days, we all enjoyed that part of him.
We all thought we knew him, but he was a man with many layers—and each time you peeled off a layer, you would find existing layers, all new to you and just as full and rich with knowledge as the one you peeled off. Going through his belongings was like uncovering an onion; there was much more for all of us to peel away, and this gave us a much deeper understanding of who he was: He was a man who always looking for solutions for the various issues around him. A man who kept a letter I sent to him when I was just 14 or 15 years old. He also kept pictures and so many memories that brought back laughter and love. My siblings and I all sat in his room, quietly looking at memories, some shared and some private.
For me, he was my first link to the world of reading and writing; He introduced me to English literature. I learned what good poetry, classic drama, and classical writing were through him. I understood the concept of writing and research on any topic at an early age. I could just pick up a piece of paper and scribble whatever came to my head on it!
I found many scribbles in my father’s belongings; some were so old that the writings were difficult to read. He showed me Shakespeare’s world, Beowulf, and books by Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, and Agatha Christie. As a ten-year-old, I was reading Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice—treasured old books all introduced to me by my father.
He did not feel he needed to teach me to read. I think he understood my hunger for knowledge about the world quite early in life, and he allowed me to pick from his collections. He shared all sorts of books with me, never asking—just giving. He never felt I was not capable of reading some of his books at my age—he just offered them. My father had so many books, so many old classical tales, all in an old silver box he got from Kenya on one of his trips. At that age, it was like a huge library to me—but it was just an old box with many dusty books.
He showed me the world of dreams and adventure through books, He helped me open doors that I never knew existed. I lay awake many nights in bed helping Agatha solve mysteries and understanding the ancient gods and goddesses of the Greeks, and I learned early on the meaning of words like Achilles’ heel.
As we cleared his belongings, I found old English poetry books, scribbled with his writings, analyzing and praising poets while drafting his own ideal poem. We discovered many papers and writings filled with research on religion and peace. He translated religious verses, offering his deep understanding of Islam and its teaching. My father’s view of the world, his understanding of humanity and religion, makes me wonder how much I really knew my father.
Like I said, he was a man with many layers. I now fully accept and understood that he was just right the way he was. He is my father, and that is all there is to it.