Saturday, September 24, 2016

A special one for Dad

     Today is a very special day. It’s a milestone day for my dad. Today, the 24th September, is his 75th birthday. I am very sure, knowing his nature that he will be wishing hard that tomorrow comes fast so that he does not have to be center of attention. I am sure that for every person in this world, their dads are the best ones ever. And its true for me too for many many reasons. And today is the special day to celebrate what he has been to me, my family and everybody he is connected to. And I won’t be surprised if many never knew or acknowledged his little acts of selfless giving. The reason being, he would never have claimed his worth at any point of time and would have just moved on to the next thing.
     In the summer of 2015, I came a full circle to connecting with his act of selfless compassion and dedication even though I was almost 10,000 miles away. My little daughter Claire was 3 yrs old and little Noah was not yet one and wasn’t even standing on his own, let alone walk. I took upon myself to take Claire to a summer camp far away from home where she would learn ballet. Since the camp was for 2 hrs a day, I had to stay back with Noah somewhere around the place and get Claire as soon as she was done and then go ahead with the rest of the day with some other activity. Since I was going to a new town that I was unfamiliar, I was nervous and I was unsure how I would also deal with a 9 month old baby on my own. So, on the first day, I reached on time to Claire’s camp, quickly got her signed in and then as I walked out, I had this lingering question of what I would do with a 9 month old on a hot summer day for the next 2 hrs. I started to drive back on the same way I came on, totally blanked out. And, as I drove towards the town center, I saw a park. I decided to try it out and so after parking my car, took Noah in his stroller. It was a beautiful place. It had a corner flower park and a play area and a large expanse with a number of beautiful big trees. But, there was something missing. There was me and Noah and nobody else. And I was in a town I didn’t know much. So, after spending time at different corners of the park with Noah in his stroller, I decided that since there was at least another hour, I would experiment with Noah a little bit. So, I got him off his stroller and made him stand up supporting the stroller and I waited to see what he would do next. Noah looked around. He had been pushed around a lot that day just like any other day, feeling helpless. He barely could stand on his feet. But, he held on to his carriage tightly and moved in the direction he wavered. One step became two and then four and then many. Baby Noah could not stop. He was doing something himself with a lot of freedom. And, yes, he was strong enough to move his cart. He had so much joy and a sense of achievement. It was his milestone that day and he has never stopped ever since. And I was very proud of him. But, there was nobody around me to sense my joy and sense of achievement.
     I had such a tense start to my day. I had not known what to do. In my heart of hearts, I had hoped everything would end fine and the day would end without incident. And then I decided to get a little bolder. Before they were done, I rushed with Noah, stealthily to Claire’s camp wanting to see how my little 3 yr old was doing. I hadn’t realized that she was also having her first day of the camp and may have been nervous. It was a new place to her and new people around. She may also have felt like I did, tense about the unknown. I wanted to ensure that Noah and I would not make her miss her sense of joy and pride of achievement. And in the midst of moms and their little kids, I rushed to look through the mirror as the camp was in its last minutes. And there I saw amongst the many beautiful butterflies, one little precious one fluttering away her wings. I could see a big grinning smile and a shriek here and there. But, then I saw another thing. Every other time she went around, her eyes gazed to the big mirror looking out if her papa was there. And I was, not only myself, but with another bundle All excited and joyful, little Noah. And seeing us brought so much energy out of her that it was a sight to behold. And I have never missed another opportunity ever since to be there for both Noah and Claire . For, now I had my pride of being a dad.
     And as we did this day after day that week, I thought of my dad. I was once a little kid and so was my sister. And my parents worked day and night for they had a dream. A dream that was us both and they would not stop. Somebody had to be there to pick us up after school and my mom could not as she still was at school teaching. So, the onus was on my dad. And he had a very hectic day at work. He would have gotten up at 1AM, when all of us were deep asleep, to get to his work. And he would have gotten back at about 1PM when we were still a couple of hours away from being done. He would be tired and sleepy. And he couldn’t have gotten home. There was a little cemetery where people were laid to rest. And my dad would wait for us day after day for at least a couple of years, sleeping on one of the tomb stones, catching up on his sleep. And then be there at the school gate for both of us. He never regretted doing this, nor did he hesitate. And now I had understood why. Because greater than everything else, he was proud of being a dad. And although nobody has ever saluted him for such acts that he so selflessly did, I remember. Because for his act of being a dad and doing it in the cemetery, I had the honor of being in a beautiful park, full of trees and beautiful flowers. And even though it had been years ago and even though we had been 10,000 miles apart, there had been a connection. A connection of hearts. And for all of this, dad, if you are feeling alone at any point of time, you should know, that Claire and Noah are very very proud of their grandpa. And so am I. Happy special birthday, Da. May GOD bless you many many more glorious ones.