"No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, what anything means, until he has a child and loves it. And then the whole universe changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before. " Lafcadio Hearn
It's my dad's birthday and I thinking about him.
I feel like I really never knew him, though I shared so much of my life with him. He was Lebanese but considered himself American and called himself - Mike, although he was born "Khodr". He was very reserved about all the people and things he left behind in Lebanon. He rarely if ever spoke about them.
He was self taught. He loved to read. He painted. He spoke 4 languages. Spanish. French. English. Arabic. He cooked deliciously. He could cook and fix almost anything. His kitchen was clean and organized. He was affable. People who knew him, loved him.
He was a man of action. He loved to exaggerate. He told big stories. To many he seemed to be angry all the time. He was a force to contend with. Perhaps, he had deep regrets, fears, or personal doubts, but he never mentioned them. He always made it through things. He said what he felt and spoke plainly.
By no means was my daddy "perfect". He was not a saint. He was proud. He was self made. He came from a family that worked hard. He was rough at times, and very ill mannered. He yelled and the house trembled. He could be violent. He was not a man of many words, but when he was angry, he cussed like a sailor! He rarely drank. He loved to dance.
Ask him anything and his best advice was - "don't fart in your own soup!" or "Life is like a carrot...one day in your mouth, next day...****"
But he was may father. I knew him best as "daddy" - most of my life. He taught me about life, beauty, and love on his terms. His love language was food. He showed love by cooking for you. He might be insulting you but if he offered you a falafel sandwich at the end, you were in the clear.
In a time when most kids want only to remember what their parent's didn't do well or blame them for everything that is wrong in their lives, I choose to do otherwise.
I suppose that now that he is gone, I find myself wishing we had more time to be together, to laugh, to cook, to play card games.
We always think there will be more time and in fact, it is not true. There were so many wasted years. Those years when we didn't make time to grow our relationship. So much time...passed unnoticed and unused.
But now that he is gone, the memories my mind has kept alive are only the lovely, tender and funny moments that created an impression on my heart.
He will always be remembered most when I hear his favorite french love song- "La Vie Un Rose". When I read a long book like the ones he first gave me in Paris, The Count of Monte Cristo. When I travel to Paris and walk around St. Mande/ or eat anything "French." (I suppose that is why I love French decor too.) When I read poems by his favorite author, Khalil Gibran.
But he will always be remembered most when I cook his favorite foods. Rolling grape leaves. Making Hummus. Baking Baqlawa. Anytime I break open my cook book and to see those old recipes we jotted down together. Me taking notes as he cooked.
So here is too my daddy, to papa, I love and miss you and here is to cooking all the things you loved.
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, 'Speak to us of Children.'
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.