Though I am the baby of the family, to say that I was always Daddy’s little girl is not exactly the case.

My father definitely has a soft spot for me. According to my sister, I get away with saying so much. But that’s only because when I attempt to speak Urdu with my dad I always end up butchering the few words that I do know. And they always manage to be words for inappropriate things, too. Go figure!

Of course, since my dad has a bit of potty humor, he can’t help but laugh. Also, as he gets older my dad just doesn’t have the energy he once did.  After a certain age, it’s just easier to humor your kids then try to discipline them.

All jokes aside though, I remember a time when I, as a somewhat rebellious teenager, would often talk back to my dad. There were no laughs then. I realize now that a lot of this verbal sparring might have stemmed from the differences in our personalities.

Although I inherited my dad’s penchant for worrying and anxiety, we have very different communication styles. My dad likes to talk and ask questions. I, on the other hand, can be reticent at times and prefer to write down my feelings after mulling over them for a few days.

Let’s just say my teenage years were not my best. At the time I completely misunderstood the probing. What I didn’t realize then was where it was all coming from.

For my dad, keeping tabs on all facets of his children’s lives was his way of showing love.

When we were growing up, my father worked extremely long shifts trying to make ends meet and trying to give me and my siblings the kind of life he never had. So when he wanted to know what I was up to after coming home from work, it was his way of trying to get to know his little girl who was quickly growing before his eyes.

But I never saw that. I was just a kid, concerned with my own feelings and problems. And as a child of the 90s, my dad’s kind of love was not the kind of “Kumbaya love,” as I like to call it, that I was used to seeing on television. (I’m sorry, but “Full House” is not even good cheesy).

Now, as I near my 30’s, I can appreciate all that my father has done for me. It was because of his insistence on being the best in school that going to my dream school was even a possibility — and he helped make it a reality. It was because of his exemplary model of always being on time (sometimes even before the hosts themselves were ready!) that I know the importance of getting things done right away.

And to this day, my father remains the one person I know I can call, any time of the day or night, whatever the reason.

He’ll drop whatever it is he’s doing and be on his way. He’s the most reliable person I know. His mere presence can reassure me whenever I go into panic mode. When I felt the first symptoms of the seizure I had back in 2012, I insisted that my work call my dad before 9-1-1. And then, as I was being pulled away on a stretcher into the ambulance, the first thing I remember seeing after coming to was my dad’s face — and that was all that I needed to know that I was going to be okay.

And let’s not forget all those times he cleaned my bathtub, the one chore I cannot stand. Man, I really miss him now.

I think because my relationship with my father hasn’t always been as sunny as I would like, in a way, it makes our relationship even stronger today. I love both my parents dearly, but seeing my dad in his ready-to-retire age pulls at my heartstrings in a way nothing else can. And though my dad will never publicly admit it, I’m definitely his favorite. I was sad when I hugged my mom at my wedding back in December, but when I hugged my father, we both lost it. I guess we were both keeping it in all those years.

These days, when my father calls me each Saturday morning, I sometimes feel like I revert back to my teenage self.

“Yes, Dad. I’ll get my Indiana driver’s license.”

“Yes, dad. I’ll enroll in auto insurance.”

“No, Dad. I did not see that Facebook post.”

After we exchange our “I love ya’s” and at times, “I don’t love you’s,” (we like to joke, remember?) before hanging up the phone, I think back to how far we’ve come. The love was always there, it’s just that now we’re both better at appreciating it and showing it. I now regard my father’s constant presence in my life as a blessing that I hope I never take for granted.

https://wp.me/p7kpad-6qp

By Rafia Khader

Writer

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