Monday, March 28, 2011

My Father

                                                                                                                    Photo Credit

Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

"May his nose be rubbed in dust! May his nose be rubbed in dust! May his nose be rubbed in dust!"

So I asked, "Who, O Messenger of Allah?"

He said : "Who has parents with him, while they are old, whether one of them or both of them, then does not enter the Paradise (though serving them and obeying them.)"

My father wrote to me again yesterday. 

He's 77 and has Alzheimers.  There's more---so much more to him than that but his Alzheimers is taking over the other parts of who he has been.

For the first year I was here, he didn't remember where I was.  Each email would ask me, "Where are you?" as if I had never told him.   I would patiently answer back again and again.  Now he remembers that I'm in Egypt.

He forgets all the times I've told him that inshahallah I'm coming for a visit this June.

The way my father writes is unique.  "Do you see that you will return to the U.S. within, say, the next 12 months or so?  Whatever, we do need to find an avenue that would bring us together for a day or so."

What made me cry about his email yesterday was that he didn't remember sending me an email the day before.

Two emails in two days asking to see me.

Answered prayers don't always come when we wish.

For years, I would pray for more time with my father.  I was an only child of divorced parents.  There was no custody battle.  I went to my mother.  She became the single mother; the single working mother.  My father became an eligible bachelor and the hottest catch in town.  He remarried in a year.  He left town and left my daily life.

From that time, I had only moments with him.  I learned how to be pleased with what I had in my father.  I stopped wondering when I'd get more from him and settled with what I got.  Islam has helped me with this because what I used to wish I got from my father I now get from Allah.

The last time I saw my father was five years ago in Spring, 2006.  Alhumdulillah.  He got to hold his youngest grandson.  At the time, my father called Mr. Boo "charming".  Now he doesn't ask about my son because he doesn't remember him.  Alhumdulillah he still remembers the older two.

Getting two emails in two days means that he's remembering less and less.  That shook me up.

And then a third email came.

The last email was from his lady friend.  No, my father isn't dead, alhumdulillah. 

What she wrote to me about was from Christmas Eve.  That was a long time ago; three months.  She appologized for being late with the news. 

My father had gone out in the car for the newspaper on Christmas Eve morning and didn't return.  He didn't return in an hour.  He didn't return all afternoon.  No one could find him---not even the police.  He arrived back at 6:00 PM Christmas Eve.  He didn't know where he'd been.  He suddenly recognized his surroundings and found his way back, alhumdulillah.  Of course, he's not allowed to drive any more.  I'm looking into a kind of GPS monitoring watch for him.  I can't bear thinking of this happening again.

I sit here with the knowledge of the past along with this new information and I have many mixed feelings.  I can't do anything much from Egypt except go to Allah with my intentions to help my father in his old age.  I don't know what or how.  I'm going to leave that to Allah.

Oh, Allah, please open our hearts and minds to our parents in their old age because our hands can care for them the way their hands once cared for us.


UmmTimo said...

SubanAllah sis, I feel exactly the same way about my father. I needed to just settle and be happy with the time I did have with him. My parents divorced when I was 18, but he was an uninterested and absentee father for as long as I remember. Now I am across the world from him (I’m in Bahrain, he’s in VA) and reading this post made me miss him so much. It really made me ache for not appreciating the little he did give me, what he was able to give.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom UmmTimo,

Nice to hear from you again. You really are spining the wheel of blog posts. This one is a bit of a heart-wrencher. It's all true and truly hard to see an ending.

I know I'm not the only one who has this issue. Lots of fathers are absent in actuality and many more are absent from being present (even when they're in the same room). Being across the world from them as they age makes the distance (that's always been there) more glaring.

As Muslims, it's hard to know how to help them. I tried to meet with my father that June of 2011. If you read on----mid-August of that year---you'll see that he cancelled out. His lady friend arranged everything without consulting me. He had the ticket and his lady friend was going to put him on the plane ALONE and send him. He was supposed to stay in my mother's home. He was supposed to be picked up from the airport by my mother. My father, as a vulnerable adult, had it written on his ticket for MY MOM to pick him up. That meant she was the only one allowed into the security area to meet and greet---not me. I wasn't cool with that and asked his lady friend to put me down as the person. I tried to arrange something in conjunction with his lady friend and she wouldn't have it. She only wanted to deal with my mom. When I tried to exert my influence AS HIS DAUGHTER she put an end to the whole shooting match. He didn't come. It took a week for me to get over...if indeed you really do get over being stood up by your father.


I talked with my father recently about walking away from my job. "Did you do it out of principle?"


"Then don't look back with any regrets. I've done that several time."

"I know, Dad. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

It's true.

Inshahallah I'll see him before he passes. That's a very real goal. I'm even considering if I can see him during this time when I don't have work. It would mean being on his lady friend's turf. That is FRIGHTENING to me.

Did you ever see the video, "Muslim in Texas"? It's on the 'net and a must see. There's an old white woman in Texas who gets interviewed about whether or not you can be Texan and Muslim.

"I don't know. I don't know what they believe in," she says, "Do they believe in God?"

That's kind of how his lady friend is with me. Sigh...

inshahallah we'll figure out a visit somehow.

Alhumdulillah for everything.

I wish you and your dad the best possible. I'm not sure what that is but Allah knows. :)

Love and Light!