To say that I am missing you would be an understatement. I’m not alone, I have heard stories in the last few days from your friends and family from near and far who will also be missing you. Dad, please know you were loved, cherished and appreciated for all your life’s contributions.
It feels like just yesterday you were driving us to school, work and church for mass. You worked so hard outside of the home to ensure that we had everything that we needed and more. You worked long shifts and sometimes we would only see you as you were going to bed or waking up to drive us to school. You never complained. You showed us what it looked like to work hard and be successful on our own terms.
I remember summer holidays where we used to go camping to Albion Hills, trips to Canada’s Wonderland where you would buy us funnel cakes, nachos and fudge and long drives to Buffalo for shopping trips. You took us to see Pope John Paul in 1983 at Downsview Park and was then inspired to follow his teachings during your lifetime. Whenever we called you over the holidays or visited with you, we would often catch you singing your favourite Christmas carols. You travelled to Australia and overseas to see family when you retired, it was the first time you travelled since immigrating to Canada in the 70’s. I always thought how remarkable it was, that you were never afraid. If you wanted something, you went for it.
In those early days, you used to call my sisters and I ‘your sons’. It may sound funny to some, but to my sisters and I – it felt great. You didn’t treat us like girls; instead you prepared us to take on life’s struggles with full hearts. “Don’t let someone say no to you, go for it. If you don’t try it, you will never know.”
Dad, you truly made a mark on our lives. The gifts you gave us daily were purposefully hidden with the intention of discovering when we were ready. Father Lawrence reminded me that you were an accomplished camera man back home in Karachi and that you had your own crew. You drew from that experience when documented through your photography every birthday, Christmas Concert and school production. At the time, it was pretty embarrassing seeing you walking around with a massive camera, taking shots of every single student performing. But now, as an adult, I understand that you were capturing beauty, love and kindness. We have your photographic artwork that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Thank you.
You showed us what a leader looked like in your work with the union, the church and the Knights of Columbus. You created a space for us to connect with our spirituality and learn what it means to be close to God, be of service to our community and provide the same generosity and selfness that you showed to friends, family and those who needed support. It is no surprise that your children grew up to work in social work, education and in technology. Your sacrifices supported our growth as successful adults.
When you were sick this past month, I sat with you in the hospital and you asked me about your brothers Uncle Fred, Uncle Hillary, Uncle Charles and even you’re Mom. I know you missed them and wanted to see them again soon – but I hoped you could stay with us just a little longer. But I accept that God was ready for you to come home. I’m grateful to Father Peter for blessing you and preparing you for your life in Heaven. We can’t wait to see you again, Dad. Please keep a space warm for us.
In closing, I would like to read a brief poem by Rupi Kaur that summarizes who you were to us,
As of father of three daughters
It would have been normal
For him to push marriage onto us
This has been the narrative for
the women in my culture for hundreds of years
instead he pushed education
knowing it would set us free
in a world that wanted to contain us
he made sure that we learned
to walk independently
I love you Dad.