8:00 PM: I found my (annoyingly) middle seat on the flight and fastened my seat belt. I was ready to sleep my way home. I had spent an entire day at the hottest place in the country. My skin had broken into heat rashes and I had fallen apart. However, the middle-aged man at the window seat was in a mood to be chatty. I decided to oblige.
He was Ronaldo, about my father’s age. He was on his way to Alaska from Mexico for the salmon season. Salmon season was good money. The summer job helped him support his family. For the rest of the year, he toggled his time between working as a chef and a nurse. He had 3 children – 2 sons and a daughter. His eyes lit up when he told me about how a simple Happy Father’s Day text from his daughter had made him happy. However, his sons did not wish to be on talking terms with him. His sons defaulted school and were not serious about their grades. Him being a stricter parent did not bode well for the sons. All the bitterness drove them apart.
Flashback: I remember my parents being strict about education and grades. I had 100% attendance at school for a few years. I do not remember how much I agreed with life then. After I grew up and stepped out of my bubble I realized the reason behind my parents stressing on good grades and education. My father wished to imbibe certain values in us; he could see the bigger picture. Obviously, we were too little to even make sense of the picture that we were drawing for ourselves. I am sure Ronaldo’s sons could not see it either. Parenting problems exist across all continents and cultures I thought. I shared my experiences with Ronaldo and assured him that his sons would come around as soon as they realized his good intentions. One day, they will see what an amazing Father he has been! I wished him Happy Father’s Day. He said I had earned a friend for life.
As I fell asleep I wondered when Ronaldo’s sons would realize all the struggle he had been through for them. I am sure it is not easy to be a father. Ronaldo struggled immensely to make his ends meet. I believe all fathers have their own struggle. I took a moment to think about the struggles I have seen my father go through – sacrifices, despair and everything else.
1:30 AM: I felt like a zombie courtesy the long flight. I requested an Uber Pool and patiently waited for it. I wish to publicly accept that Uber and Lyft have instilled the quality of patience in me. After we dropped my co-passenger, I initiated a conversation with the driver. P.S: My Uber rating as a customer has gone down the drain and hence I make a point to talk to Uber and Lyft drivers while riding the cab. (I don’t really think my strategy is working though. Never mind. Bigger fish to fry)
My Uber driver was Davinder, probably my father’s age. It was well past 1 AM and I knew there had to be a strong reason for him to be working this late. I asked him if he always worked unearthly hours (Good conversation starter when you take a cab at odd hours). And he told me the story. His daughter follows her passion for Optometry in California. There was no way their family could afford her education and support her. They had suggested her to make a career out of something lesser expensive but she could not let go her dreams. So, the family now has a debt of 300K and Davinder and they work insane hours to provide their daughter with her living expenses so that she could concentrate on her studies and live a better life.
I took a moment to think about my family. Premium schools do cost big bucks. But that did not stop our parents from supporting us. My father always felt strongly about receiving education from good school. I felt blessed. I can never thank my family enough for everything. They could have easily denied us the privileged life we wanted. But they did not. They stood tall and have supported us through thick and thin. Davinder could have crushed his daughter’s dreams. But he did not. He decided to support her come what may.
Davinder said he saw his daughter in me. I wished him Happy Father’s Day before I got off the car.
I realized the universal struggle all fathers go through – my father, Ronaldo or Davinder. We should take a moment to think about what how amazing our parents have been and thank them for all the sacrifices and struggles they have been through to see us succeed. We live an amazing and privileged life because of our parents and we should be very thankful for that. As kids, we took everything for granted. But now is the time to give back and say thank you. It’s our chance to give them the support, love, and comfort they deserve. Tathastu!