Lessons From My Father and His Death

My Abah and I in Perth, a place he often referred to as his second home

If my father was still alive today would have been his birthday. My father passed away seven years ago but every 23rd of June I still think of him and say, "Today's Abah's birthday!". Being the youngest in the family and a true blue daddy's girl I sometimes still don't know what to make of his passing. I had lost family members prior to that but I never seriously thought about my Dad not being around anymore until it happened one summer's day in New Zealand.

One day I came home from varsity and found that my Abah had passed away in his sleep. Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. He wasn't at the peak of his health but he wasn't chronically ill either. I still remember that day very vividly. It was the 28th of February and the weather was perfect as the sun shone like I had never seen before in the typically gloomy Dunedin. I even remember thinking to myself, "Today is such a beautiful day! Nothing could possibly go wrong today."

By the time I got home there was nothing I could do and it still hurts my chest to think about it. But I also believe in the qadr of Allah. The only thing I could do was make a promise that I would become a better person and a better daughter for my mother. There are many things I could tell you about my late father but some experiences, thoughts and emotions are sacred and should remain between you and God or you and the most trustworthy people in your life. 

This is not a tribute to my father. I could never do justice to the love he showed us. However, in honour and remembrance of my late father I would like to share some things I have learned from him and his passing. There were a lot of things I had taken for granted when he was alive and if I could go back in time and undo some of the things I did I definitely would but I can't. So here I am trying to make my life a tribute to him, inshaAllah. May Allah forgive him and reward him with the best in Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen.

In honour of the man I once I had the privilege of calling Abah, I've compiled a list of some of the things I've learned from him and his passing in hopes that it will help you to make the most of your days with your father. 

1. Laugh at his jokes but respect him.
If your Dad is anything like mine, you might have been embarrassed by his lame jokes once or twice or quite possibly more. I used to crease my forehead and frustratingly tell him, "Abah, you can't make jokes like that!" and most of the time he would find my reaction amusing and snicker at me. Perhaps he did it just to see me get all worked up. He was always up for a laugh and if he could make us laugh it was even better. When he was alive I never really understood him as a person. I just saw him as my Abah. I think it's common for people to feel this way about their fathers but I hope they see that underneath the lame jokes and goofy behaviour, no one can love and protect them like their fathers can. No one. You may not realise it but your father works as hard as your mother to raise you and provide his family with the best. If you ever need a reason to love and respect your father, that would be it.

2. Spend time with him, listen to him and get to know him as a person.
As your dad gets older he will have plenty of stories to tell about his days as a young man.  It's his way of spending time with you. Perhaps you think these stories are irrelevant to your life but one day you'll look back and wish you had paid more attention.   I never knew how important it was to get to know my father as a person rather than just as a father and all I have today are memories of him and the stories others tell me about him from time to time. Sometimes I look at his lecture notes and it surprises me how knowledgeable he was about his field (he was an industrial designer and a lecturer). He rarely spoke to me about work or maybe he did all the time but I rarely listened. I do remember him saying that it was important to travel so we could be exposed to different people and cultures and learn from them.

3. Forgive him.
The mistakes your father makes are the mistakes of a man. He's human. Flesh and blood, a man. 

4. Ask him how and why he fell in love with your mother.
Not too long before my Dad passed away I casually asked him what he liked most about my Mum when he first met her and why he chose to marry her. "She was smart and pretty. I liked everything about her. There was always something I didn't like about other girls - they spoke funny or smelled funny," he semi-jokingly answered (I think). I rolled my eyes and grinned at the same time. I told you his jokes were lame but I never regretted asking him that question and I think you won't regret asking your  father either. 

5. Ask him for marriage advice.
You'd be surprise to hear what he has to say. I was too young for him to seriously give me any advice about marriage but he did say that if we wanted to know how much a man loved us we should curse at him or make him angry. Now, he may or may not have been joking about the cursing part but you don't have to deliberately make your man angry because at some point you are going to make him mad whether you mean to or not. When that happens observe what he does. If he forgives you, he loves you. Says who? Says my dad. Want more advice? Ask yours.


R S said…
Your late father raised his children very well. You and your sister are the perfect evidence. I still miss my late grandmothers so I can't imagine how you feel having lost a parent but you're very strong to be able to write this.

Al-fatihah. May your father be placed among the righteous.
Isa said…
إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون
Mie said…
best thing ive read in ages.
kudos to this. and to all fathers.
al-fatihah to yours. semoge berkat.