Semblance of Closure

During a memorial dinner we had for my father, where well over 100 people were crammed into our tiny mosque, I was asked to say a few words about him.

I tried to come up with a “speech” the night before but that seemed tacky and crass. So instead, I committed a few key words to memory and rolled with it the best I could. Here is a transcription of what I came up with…. At least what I remember of it anyway:

“My father was an imposing man, wasn’t he?

From the way he talked to the way he carried himself-

When I used to visit him at his office and catch him walking down the hallway I would say to myself ‘Damn… that is an impressive dude.’

And he really was no matter how you looked at it. He came to the United States from a pretty lousy country (no offense) with next to nothing after graduating med school and became a successful doctor saving lives and healing the sick. In fact many of the people he helped are in this room today, or have worked beside him while he worked his magic.

Whenever I would think of everything he had accomplished, I would be in awe and consider him to be slightly more than human. And, like many parents, I’m pretty sure he expected the same for me but I took a different path and I think that’s why there was always this tension between us. Of course I loved him – he was my father and gave me an excellent life and I would like to think the same is true of his feeling for me, but it never quite went past that.

Then he got sick.

But because he was this larger than life character for me, I figured he’ll have his surgery, pop some antibiotics, and be back to playing tennis and scolding me for some reason or another: No big deal right?

I held on to that belief, regardless of what my family and the doctors would say. I never argued it, but in my head I would simply say ‘Whatever -he’ll be fine.’

I held on to that belief until his last breath. Then the denial and disbelief and all those other psychological terms started to kick in. I refused to believe it happened because I had so many questions. I had so many “whys” that needed to be answered and he left without answering them. I was lost…

But something – odd – has been happening in the past week. The stories I had no knowledge of started rolling in. Stories of my father’s generosity, his kindness, his sense of humor and laugh. Stories about families given the opportunity to do things never even DREAMED of because of my father’s altruism. And they were coming in from all over the globe via email, phone, and even Facebook strangely enough.

So… With that being said I would like thank my brother and sisters for being infinitely stronger than I have been to help me through this and to help arrange everything in such a short time. I would like to thank my mother for being the rock that has held us all together.

And finally I would like to thank you: For even though I may not have had my questions answered, the stories you shared with me helped me understand my father more than I thought I could and that helps more than you can ever know.

Thank you.”

After the obligatory handshakes and hugs after my words, I had to step outside to get away from the congestion of depressed bodies.

While outside I saw Kay, a middle-age woman who I didn’t know very well but had worked in my dad’s office for many years. She approached me, eyes red and watery to the point where she was about to break down, but for a completely different reason than I expected:

“That was one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard.”
“Thank you Kay… “
“But there is something you should know.”
“Oh?”
“Your father was so very proud of you. He told all of us.”

I tried to fight back this swelling that was happening in my mind. My jaw was clenching. My chin started to ache and quiver. My eyes filled up and nose was starting to run… It was time. The only words I was able to get out were: “He was?”

She hugged me and I lost it… It was the first time since it happened and I think the timing was probably just right. She told me to never question how my father felt about me or any of us because there was no question.

It was just the answer I was looking for.

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