Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Dad! Love, Anita

It still hurts when I think of my dad.

It’s been almost four years since he passed away (I hate saying “died”) and as I sit here and write, tears well up in my eyes.

I know I was lucky to have him as my dad. I respected him – not just for being so smart, at the top of his class, and for earning a scholarship to study in the states and getting his Ph.D. – but for how selfless he was. His kids came first and helping others came first, and principle was very important.

My dad used to take me to his lab and show me how to titrate. I learned what an acid was and what a base was. I learned about plant diseases during walks in the park. I learned about politics from the many debates and discussions that took place in our house and also from NPR that my dad always had on in the car.

My dad helped me move into my dorm room at college. It was only three miles from home. He called me that first night and I didn’t answer. I had of course gone out and stayed out late that night, tasting my first night of freedom. He was so mad when I called home the next morning. He was scared that something had happened to me. He loved me.

When we were planning my wedding and picking out songs, and I played a Bidai song – an Indian song typically played when the daughter leaves the parental home – he started to cry and asked me not to play it at the wedding reception because he didn’t want to cry in front of the guests. He loved me.

I was at my parent’s home when I went into labor with my first child so my dad told us to hurry to the hospital. We left my mom and dad’s home and went home first so I could take a shower. I just wasn’t ready to go to the hospital. When we arrived about ninety minutes later, my dad was almost frantic. My OB/GYN said he was this close to calling the police because my dad was worried that we had driven into a ditch. He loved me so much.

I loved how he would come home from work and immediately take one of my babies and carry them around the yard in his suit and dress shoes, bouncing them a little and letting them touch the trees and feel the grass while he whispered in their ears. I would watch from the window and feel a contentment that I don’t get to experience now.

When he got sick, it was so incredibly hard. Watching him die. One Sunday night we watched “60 Minutes” together and Elizabeth Edwards was on, explaining that she had come to terms with the fact that she was dying. I tried hard not to look at my dad because I knew, I could feel, that he was trying not to cry, and trying to come to terms with his death which was only a few months away.

We were waiting for the urologist to come into the room one time and my dad, who wasn’t dressed, fell off the examining table. It was hard trying to pick him up – he had lost 40 pounds – and act as if he still had all his dignity. I wanted him to feel my respect so he wasn’t embarrassed. I loved him.

I loved when the kids and I went to see my parents. We only live five miles away from their home where I grew up. My youngest, Devina, who was two when he got sick, would run into the house and yell out, “Where is Nana? Where is Nana?” (“Nana” is Hindi for “grandfather.”) And when my dad saw her, his eyes would twinkle again like they did before he got sick and he would gingerly hug and kiss her. He loved his grandkids too.

I am thankful that Daulat Singh was my dad. That I had him for the years that I did. I just still wish he was here so my kids and I could wish him a Happy Father’s Day, and so my mom wouldn’t be so sad. I know he loved me, and God, I loved him so much. I miss him so much.

I just wish you were here, Dad.

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