A Belated Father’s Day

Author's Note: After he read a draft, he didn't want me to post it-- quote: "It makes me sound like a saint, beta." While my father is not a saint, I believe he tried to do the best he could with the resources he had. He is obviously one of the (two) reasons I am here. As I'm contemplating fatherhood myself [how's that for a teaser?], I find myself thinking about things that he repeatedly said to me when I was a child. I hope he forgives me for posting it.

On Father's Day weekend, I was in Indianapolis photographing a wedding. While I would've loved to be with my father, it was wonderful being surrounded by the bride and groom's family. Praise God, I made a good impression, and by the end of it, the mother-of-the-bride joked that I should stay and be adopted. Fathima's post made me reflect on my own relationship with my father. Whenever I do so, I always think of one moment in our history together-- when we were in Mecca. I was twelve years old, kneeling beside him near the station of Abraham after we had just prayed our formal prayers. I looked up at him while he made the customary supplications after formal prayer, and watched as a look of humility ran across his face. His eyes were closed, and he was pleading with his Creator. A tear rolled down his face. That was the only tear I've ever seen from his eyes. If there is one person on earth who can bring me to tears, it is my father. The look of sincerity on his face has always hit me deep. Despite that, I was a pretty rebellious teenager, because I didn't understand the love he and my mother felt for me, as parents. When I was 15, and not cooperating when he tried to help me with trigonometry homework, he first responded with frustration. His frustration melted away soon, and that same look washed over his face,

"Come on, beta, just try!"

With that, I lost it. Tears streaming down my face. I couldn't help but to try. Despite all of my protests, despite all of my rebellions, if I see that look on his face... I melt. Once I asked him about love. And he referred to a very basic form of love, where you could never do something to harm your loved one because you couldn't bear to see the pain in that person's face. I think that is the way I feel about my family. There were days when I was the worst kid, putting petroleum jelly on all the door knobs in the house, and writing profanity on the walls of my room. The profanity marked the walls for almost four years. I never asked my parents why they let me keep it up. But I think it was a very wise thing to do. Within a few weeks, I grew ashamed. My conscience wouldn't let me forget and soon I put posters over those angry writings.Four years later, as I was preparing to leave for college, I found my father silently painting over those words. He was about to uncover the parts I wrote about him, when I took the paint roller from him. Today, I saw that same sincerity and humility on my father's face, and today, it was I who was pleading with God. And it was I who found tears streaming down my face.May God reward my father for showing me, over the course of my 27 years, how to be a good man. I only hope I can accomplish what he has. Thanks for the inspiration, dad. To the dads, a belated father's day.