Losing a parent is always difficult and saying goodbye to a parent when you’re still a child brings its own unique kind of heartache.
Thinking back on our life in India, I recall a modest-sized house with three rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a little room my dad used as a post office. He was a postmaster. I lived in that house with my parents, brother, and four sisters. We weren’t rich or poor. Just a nice, happy, loving family. My dad always believed a real future for his family could not be found in India, but rather in Canada.
My dad always wanted to move to Canada so he could provide a better education and a better life for his family. I was only five years of age the day Dad flew to Canada in pursuit of our better future. We were optimistic about our success in a new country. Like so many other families separated by distance, modern communication was a blessing.
Once my father was in Canada, it was 11 years until he was granted landed immigrant status. He wrote to us saying he was going to come back for us, and we would finally all be moving to Canada. His visit back home never came. We would never see each other again.
The stress my father experienced during that long wait, the constant worry about being sent home, his worrying about his family back home in India all had taken a toll on him. He had become quite ill. He suffered high blood pressure and developed a heart problem and diabetes. Sadly, he died of a heart attack before he could bring us to our new home in a new country.
I was five years old when he left us and 16 when he died. My memories of my dad are the vague, foggy memories of a small child.
My uncle, who had helped Dad get to Canada, once again came into our lives as an angel. He did his best to support us and played a major role in bringing about my family’s success here in our new country.
Despite our treasured national mythos as a promised land of wealth and opportunity, our history is littered with tales of losing my father. It always brings tears to my eyes. Today, I’m 47 years old and Canada has been my home for almost 30 years. To this day, however, whenever I experience difficulties in life or in my career, I feel sadness and regret at not having my father me to help me through the difficult times.
My immigration story has something in common with countless others: it is one of heartbreak and hardship. This has been true throughout the many decades of immigration to this country, stretching back over a century. It is also true that with each new generation the process becomes more efficient, humane and effective. Perhaps I’m being selfish, but I can’t help but be in a way envious of more recent immigrants. My own experience began with the loss of my father, and was characterized by hard work, sacrifice, and little government support. Yet I don’t begrudge new refugees or immigrants a better system.
Canada is a wonderful country. I continue to learn new things, confront new challenges, and enjoy new experiences.
Still, so many times I have thought about how my dad was taken from us. I miss him and often feel grief.
Yes, I live with the big hope that time will heal the pain one day. Remember even though he is gone but his memories, influences, and teachings are still with me and will always be, I use them to give me strength and believe me they make me stronger. Sometimes my beautiful memories of him bring tears to my eyes, other times, they soothe me.
There’s nothing that can help to get rid of the pain of losing my first superhero, my father. He may not be here for me, but that doesn’t decrease the love I have for him.
So, I try to make my pain my strength and not my weakness. I try to become the person that my father wanted me to be. Before I do anything, I ask myself if it would make my father proud and happy. Also, I make time for things that make me happy and do them. With the hope that wherever my father is, he is watching me. There is nothing that would make him happier than to see me being happy.
I feel like my dad is always with me. Perhaps not beside me, but within my smile, thoughts, and actions. That gives me peace of mind and diminishes my pain.
When I miss him, I want someone to hold me, give me a hug. And when I see how everyone simply dotes on their dads, gives them gifts on Father’s Day, wishes them a long, happy life, I want to do the same– but to whom can I give my Father’s Day gift and card to? Where can I get a warm loving hug, a fatherly kiss?
Life is so short, all too short, and the ones we love and who sacrificed so much for us are taken away from us so very early. So early, in fact, that we couldn’t even get around to telling them how much we love them.
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