When you are young, you always think that your parents are invincible. They are the “Super-Hero Dads” and the “Wonder-Woman Mothers”. They can fix bruised knees and cut fingers with magical kisses and comic-print band-aids. They make food appear out of no-where and can turn evil monsters lurking under the bed into whimsical fairy dust. They are stronger than anything. They are invincible, immortal, untouchable. They just don’t get hurt and their word is the law.
Often on warm summer evenings I used to sit and talk with my dad in the kitchen after my mom has gone to bed and my brother is long asleep. I like those summer evenings alone with my dad. Because my dad is the superhero of all dads: He is an advice giver, the listener, the deep thinker and the decision maker. He tells me what I should do without telling me what to do and he lets me make up my own mind. My dad is the ultimate rock, the immortal, immovable, steadfast being.
On these summer evenings in the kitchen, my dad would be finishing his whiskey and soda (which by now is diluted with at least 8 ice cubes) and helping to clean up a little for the morning. I love those warm nights. It was a time when I could ask my dad anything and he would tell me, he would show me, he would guide me. I came to him in times of need, in times of revelation, in times of deep sadness, in times of regret and in times of big dreams. And I still do.
Then one summer night, something strange happened. My dad and I were talking as usual as he was cleaning the kitchen counters.
my dad cried.
My dad cried. I don’t remember what the conversation was about or what relevance it had to anything but it doesn’t matter – my superhero, unbreakable, indomitable, rock-steady father was crying. And it was more than crying – it was a sobbing and heartbreaking and painful release. I wasn’t very old, perhaps 16 or 18 young years, but suddenly I was the support, I was the rock, the immortal, immovable, steadfast being. In that instant, I realised that my superhero dad is only human. An incredible, generous, loving, intelligent and brave man, but still only human. He has the same hopes and dreams that may still need to be fulfilled, the same fears and drives and pains that anyone else has. He is human. A unique individual, a spirited human with fierce passion and ingenuity. He is not the superhero rock. He bleeds and he gets hurt and he cries. He is a man in a relationship trying to make it work, he is a provider with worries of security, he is a protector with fears, he is a pioneer doubting his decisions, he is a Father. He is always trying his best and that will always be good enough.
That night was a poignantly beautiful and melancholic moment for me. I comforted him and tried to provide a miniscule fraction of the love, support, understanding and care that he has shown me in my times of need throughout all these years. That unwavering love and support can not be matched in any lifetime, in any place, by any person. He is my immortal, immovable, steadfast being.
I took my dad in my arms and I let him cry.