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Remembering Dad

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My father passed away a couple of weeks ago from complications arising out of cancer. He had beat this disease two decades ago but this time it proved fatal and after five months of courageous battle he succumbed to the illness. I had expected the news for some time, but losing a parent, as I discovered, is a life-altering event nevertheless. There's sadness and grief, but there's also the realization that you are next in line to face death. There are no longer any buffers to give you a comfortable distance from the ultimate fate.

My father wasn't the greatest father in the world, No one is. I'm not the best father in the world either. But he was the only father I had and one must judge a person's character based on the totality of a life lived. On that basis he was a good man with qualities of integrity, honesty, kindness, and sincerity. He did have a short fuse, a hot temper, was often cynical, and had sub-par driving skills. Six years ago I vowed never to ride in his car and I kept that promise until the end. Like many fathers and sons, there were agreements and disagreements between us, but in the end we would get along fine by never crossing the boundaries of respect and courtesy. And there always was a great deal of unspoken love.

What my father truly excelled at was his inveterate adherence to diligence and integrity when performing his duties. As a father he made certain that his children had every opportunity to follow their chosen paths and reach their career goals. On that we didn't fail him and I know he was proud of us. As a pediatrician he healed generations of infants and children, never allowing his dedication to be influenced by how much money a patient could pay. All children received the same care, regardless of their parents' financial status.

Of all the things what I miss most about him is his passion for the outdoors, especially mountains. As a lazy child I always tried to find excuses not to go on mountain excursions with him. He had an insatiable reverence for mountains and somewhere along the line I was fortunate enough to gain the same appreciation. As an adult I could never get enough of hiking with him on those rare occasions we were together. He certainly was in excellent physical shape until the end that would put many younger people to shame.

I took this picture of him on one of our hiking trips a number of years ago in the mountains north of Tehran.

There he is hiking swiftly and expectantly towards a green patch in the middle of the dry vastness. Perhaps he was searching for water or just wanted to rest under a tree shade for a while. Most likely it was his natural curiosity that was propelling him forward. Whatever the case I recall following him there and enjoying the little oasis for a while. If there is indeed life beyond death, I'd think this picture is a perfect representation of where my father is right now.

Thanks for everything Dad. Rest, and hike, in peace, Dr. Seyed Ebrahim Hashemian. (1931-2011)

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