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Fathers are Forever

Every year we celebrate Father's Day.

Perhaps with a little less fanfare than the Mother's.

That is fitting. Fathers are underrated creatures anyway.

Before this Father's Day, I was idly reminiscing about my father.

He was a good, decent, honest and disciplined man.

He was deeply spiritual, without being ritualistic.

He never preached us what to do, but showed how it was done.

He did not curb our dreams, but nurtured them.

As a father and single wage earner, he put the food on our tables.

Sometimes more, sometimes less.

He always tried hard. He also worked hard.

As a fiercely independent spirit, he wouldn't want to work for anyone else.

He built his own construction engineering business from scratch.

He never opened up about his trials and tribulations to our mother or any of his six children.

He never shared his hopes and fears with anyone.

But he displayed his levity with everybody.

He went through hay times and bad times with equanimity.

We had lived in mansions, and we had lived rented houses.

We were driven in chauffeur driven cars, and we had to resort to public transportation.

With our father, we would never know what comes next.

He never worried about saving for the rainy day.

He used his courage as an umbrella.

But the greatest of my father's trials began at his mid-life.

At the age of 51, my father lost my mother (age 43) to Leukemia.

Left with six children ranging in age from six to twenty five, he became a single parent.

In hindsight, none of us really fathomed the enormity of his burden.

I constantly marvel at my father's bravery under extreme adversity.

It is a constant mystery to me how he single handedly managed his household.

He boldly stepped up to the plate. We never heard any expressions of complaint, anger, or agony from him. All of us were well attended and our individual needs were adequately met. For the sake of the family, he forsook his personal needs. He never got remarried. His family was his mission, however impossible it might have been.

It was our blessing that he spent the last twenty years of his life with us in the United States. He was a shadow parent to our two boys- Anish and Arjun. He was profoundly thankful to my wife Revathy for her constant attention to his needs.

In his dying days of liver cancer, he bore the pain and suffering with patience.

He taught us to live life without regret, rancor or remorse.

And he showed us the art of aging and dying gracefully.

It must be an eternal anguish for all men that they didn't appreciate their fathers more when they were alive.

So, on this Father's Day, all I can say to my dad in Heaven is, paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling's poem, "You are a better man than I am Appa."

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