I haven’t written much lately, despite having a good number of drafts waiting to be finished. My life has become busier than I ever expected it could be, and I’m treading water, desperately trying to keep afloat. Today, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to acknowledge the great man in my life – my father.
This post will be terse and incomplete, but then, how can I ever write enough about praise about the man I admire most? I’m hopeful that the future will present me with enough time to sit down and write all that I would about him.
When I was ten, my father bought me a necklace, and I have been wearing it for the last twenty years of my life. I often forget that it is there, much like one doesn’t think too much about the pinky finger on their left hand. I’m sometimes reminded of it, like when I’m in the sauna and it burns me, or when I go to the doctor’s office and they ask me to remove all of my jewelry, or when I go to fix the collar of my shirt and notice that it is resting on top. Most of the time, though, it’s simply there; I rarely even notice it when I’m shaving.
My father taught me how to shave, but I’m kind of a nincompoop and still have yet to figure out exactly how much shaving cream is needed to shave my face. I either over- or underestimate each time I shave. This is not a fault of my father’s teaching. My father also taught me how to fix a leaking toilet, drive a car, put up drywall, fix a broken TV, VCR, and stereo, cook rice, iron a shirt, and to always wear a belt. The preceding list is not exhaustive, but serves as a good example of a few things that my father has done for me.
Of all of the things that my father has given me, the greatest of them is the freedom to be the man I want to be. I will defend the argument that my father wants me to be my own man. He doesn’t want me to be the man he is. This is a difficult struggle for me, because my father is the man I admire most. He has always been the man I would choose to be. He, however, doesn’t want for me to be like him. And, to his credit, I am not much like him.
Sometimes, people on the other end of the phone think that I’m my father. He and I both share a crackling voice, unsuited to pleasant-sounding song. But his voice is filled with a patience that I’m unable to match. Perhaps because he speaks about seven different languages, he has learned when it is best to speak, and when it is best to remain silent. I often choose to voice my opinion, for better or worse.
There are a myriad of other ways in which I am not like my father. He’s a snappy dresser, and looks good in almost anything he puts on. He’s a clean man, always presenting himself well. He’s a caring man, suffering to great lengths to please those he cares for. He’s a thoughtful man, judging the world around him carefully. He’s a religious man, praising the graces of Allah for all that he has and is.
He is also a father who grew up without one of his own – someone that I will never be.
In all my life, the only person I know to have criticized my father more than anybody else is me. I, a beloved son of my father’s, judge this self-made man. A man, who through sheer struggle and faith, brought himself to greatness, has had to justify himself to me, a boy made poor by his absence of faith and conviction.
This, however, is not a fault of my father’s teaching.
It is only now, at thirty – the same age as when my father became a father – that I realize how important a man he is in my life. It is only now, when I’m finally able to start reflecting on my own history, that I’m starting to realize what it is that my father wants for me. It is only in these moments of conscience reflection that I wish to one day buy my own son, should I have one, a necklace that he will often forget he is wearing.