I was flying kites recently with a friend’s little nephew. He soon lost interest and would rather play on the slides. A little girl in the public park took his place and befriended me – she wanted to fly a kite, which we happily did until my kite broke.
I listened to her talk and I couldn’t but adore her pure innocence, her pure heart unadulterated with malice, her cuteness. I chuckled as she shared how sorry she was about my kite. It was, after all, barely worth $2 at Wal-Mart. But she was still too innocent to value things on their price. I foresaw my daughters being spoiled.
What the little girl said after that struck me for days.
“Let’s go to my dad.” She said, with a confident voice. “My dad can fix it!” I smiled and looked up. As if to convince me, she continued, “My dad can fix anything!!”
The father is a girl’s first love, I’d read, and here I saw it in her eyes. The trust in her flawless, invincible hero, who could do anything, who would always be there for her, to protect her, to provide for her, to guide her.
It was that age. It was why I was heartbroken when I saw a picture of a little Palestinian girl looking on, towards the lifeless body of her superhero, her invincible man, her love – her dad.
Her face said it all – her bubble had burst. Her dad wasn’t invincible, after all. He was dead.
Her dad couldn’t do everything, after all. They always learn later, but it wasn’t time yet, for her to know that.
Growing into young men and women, through their rebellious teenaged years, everyone learns of the flaws and imperfections of their precious dads. Maybe they continue to love them despite their flaws.
As a son, I remember when I looked up to my dad that way. And then, I discovered he wasn’t as perfect as I thought he was. I disrespected him sometimes as an angry teen. And then, I grew further. I could now see him in full. If the love I had for him as a child was like that of an animal, blind and complete, where I would rather get hit by a brick than have a pin prick him, it was now total love with him with reason – the man, the human being, the father, the husband, the brother, with full knowledge of all his imperfections amidst his strengths.
My dad the husband has shown us children a beautiful marriage with our mother. My parents have long conversations. He jokes with her, he lightens her up and tries to please her when she’s upset. He has been a mountain of support – physical, emotional, financial to my mother when she recovered from cancer.
My dad the brother is someone my uncles, aunts and cousins rely upon for support. Everyone in the extended family goes to my dad for advice, help and mediation. As I play that role in my circle of friends, I wonder if it’s It’s something I learned from him.
My dad the father has been more amazing than anybody I knew – he pushed all of us toward academic success – my three siblings are medical doctors. Dad had a great career himself – our mother loves him for his industriousness, efficiency and hard work. My dad is a spiritual man. He encouraged and motivated us to give religion, Islam its importance in our lives. He didn’t force us, and he succeeded in what he wanted. For the strict parents who forced a moral and religious code upon their children, we have seen how the good boys and girls in front of their parents have secret sinful lives hidden away from them.
My dad is street-smart. He fixes things. He would rather wait an extra day before he calls a plumber, an electrician, a laborer, a mechanic or any other specialist, because he would like to fix it himself.
I am twenty years older than that little girl, but I would still take anything to my dad to fix – my broken kites, my broken heart, my broken toys, my broken work, my broken spiritual life. That I live far away from him tempers with this wish to share with him, to ensure I don’t worry him with my problems.
My dad says he loves his daughters more than he’s loved his two sons. I smile, because I know my sisters love him immensely for he has given them every reason to love him as much as that little girl flying a kite loves her father.
When an acquaintance asked me who in the present world I would like to emulate the most, my answer wasn’t Steve Jobs or Bill Gates like the others. It was my father, the employee, the husband, the father, the brother, the son.