I saw a cardinal this morning sitting out in my backyard. He flitted one way then another, before zooming away towards a tree. My immediate thought was, ‘you’d have loved to sit out here, dad, enjoying Nature…’
Growing up, I remember watching my dad sit out in our little apartment balcony, looking out at the trees and birds in general, probably reminiscing about his own childhood. We knew enough not to bother him while he enjoyed his quiet moments.
It’s uncanny how certain habits pass on to the next generation.
I find myself doing the same thing and am ever so grateful for his love of nature and solitude, that have made a permanent home in my heart and soul.
When I think of my Dad, I’m almost always filled with happiness. His simplicity and the ability to find humor in everyday things was a gift unlike any I have ever seen! The last time I spoke to him was when he came home after a hospital stay, battling pneumonia. Yet over the phone, he was his same cheerful self, asking me to take care of my health and laughing when I said he needed to do that more. His words (translated), “I’m home where I need to be, with your mom and brother, talking to you. God is great. You take care of the kids and yourself and don’t worry. All the Best!”
‘All the best!’ – that was his trademark sign off to ending every phone conversation.
Two days later, he was gone. Just like that…
This August will mark 3 years since his soul journeyed on.
That night, just like this morning, was amazingly still and silent when I felt untethered in my gut. There was a quiet presence in the air around me. I remember looking into the darkness, at the stars thinking, ‘you are finally Home, Dad.’
The grief never came and I remember writing a lot more and thinking about the countless ways he filled our lives with happiness and joy. Everything around me reminded me of his ways and I knew with a certainty that I’d not break down. Instead, he somehow filled me with a strength that I never thought could exist.
Today on the eve of Father’s Day, my thoughts invariably lead me to him, to our childhood stories where his presence loomed, larger than life.
He was the strongest, the wisest, the bravest as far as my brother and I were concerned. His ability to hoist us both on his upper arms while we clung to it like monkeys, was the ultimate display of strength to us! The many hours he spent playing with us, inside our little living room, just because we asked him to, are like priceless gems! Never, in all those moments, did he berate us for our flaws (mine especially, since I was supremely uncoordinated!) Instead he’d find a way to make it easier so we’d leave with a sense of accomplishment, wanting to do better next time.
When I play with my children and find myself encouraging them to do better and actually see them do it… I know exactly how my dad must have felt when he watched us play.
He was a simple, down to earth man in such profound ways. Helping others, as and when he could, was second nature. Family meant everything to him. There were many instances in his life when he could have walked away from the people who didn’t care about his feelings or wellbeing and yet who had no qualms expecting everything of him. I know I would have walked away, but he never did. He had a much bigger heart that loved and forgave, more than I could possibly fathom. He often said, “Always do the best you can. If you aim for 120 points out of 100, you will be assured a 100.”
I’m often struck by the simplicity of his wisdom. His humble beginnings only made him more honest, caring and devoted to his Faith unlike any. He may not have had the best of education but his incredible sense of conviction, ethics, moral strength, and principles would put any ‘literate’ man to shame.
He taught us early on that all the ‘education’ in the world would serve no purpose if we weren’t also Good human beings.
I hold that belief to this day.
I’m blessed with children who are grateful, respectful of their elders, their traditions and culture and are academically inclined. But I never fail to remind them that for all those qualities, being Good human beings, would count the most, in their grandpa’s book.
Unsurprisingly, my kids would rather do just that than run the risk of disappointing Grandpa, simply because they loved him for who he was.
The childhood stories that I’ve shared about my father, with my children, never ceases to amaze me and them. As my oldest once said, “How was it that Thatha (grandpa) was so kind and giving, yet very few realized that? How come no one ever asked him where he found the strength to be so forgiving and caring despite all that he had been through?? You’re so lucky that you had him as your Dad…and I’m luckier because I have you and him, so double the happy for me!”
I am honored that my children hold their grandpa with reverence. I would not expect anything less from his grandkids.
My Father’s greatest gift to us, his children, was allowing us to be, who we were supposed to be, and encouraging us along the way. His unshakeable faith in the Almighty and unyielding moral compass led us to aspire to be more like him.
It is true I have never met anyone quite like him. Maybe because he was and is and always will be my Daddy, but I often find myself thinking, ‘yep, so and so is a good man. Could be better but then again not everyone can be like my Dad.’
It has been 3 years since you journeyed Beyond, Dad. In all that time, your memories have only drawn you closer to us.
Somewhere among the Stars and the Cosmic Elements,
Your laughter and Joy is eternal.
In a Reality bound by Time,
Your memories remain Timeless.
I think of You daily and all the Good You have done…
Somehow in this Material World, Your Deeds stay Priceless.
There’s not a day that goes by
when I don’t think of how fortunate I was as Your child.
I see You in Me and realize,
It is indeed true…
“For those who live in our hearts, there is no GoodBye.”
Happy Father’s Day, Appa (Dad)
All the Best….until we meet again. ❤️