To my Unforgettable Daddy on Father's Day
Imam Maajid Faheem ‘Ali
July 18, 1953 - February 27, 2016
Inna lillahi wa Inna Ilaihi Raji’un
“ ‘Tis better to have love and lost, than to have never loved at all”
-- Alfred Lloyd Tennyson
I used to think this was a beautiful quote of a romantic love. In light of my daddy’s passing earlier this year, I recognize that it is applicable to our father-daughter relationship as well.
THIS^^ is my absolute favorite picture of me and daddy. At our wedding, it was our daddy-daughter dance to Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable”. A song that I’d picked out for this moment well before I met Tariq, and before I knew I was ever going to get married. I’d just said to him “Daddy we did it!” as I burst into tears of happiness and he cried right along with me. As a Muslim, daddy was responsible/played an important role in finding me a husband. Prior him initiating my courtship with Tariq, I was getting on him for “not doing his job”. Literally the same week/weekend of our conversation, we saw Tariq and our courtship began and. . .well our story is still being written. Maybe I’ll blog about our story another time 😉
Daddy and I are a team. Like the many others that he inspired in his time here on earth, daddy and I had our uniquely special bond. He liked to push and challenge me academically, I would push back, also wanting to be recognized for the other skills and talents I possessed. But in his infinite wisdom, he knew the “way out” for me would to be to get a solid education, so I took it all the way to the top, Dr. ‘Ali, Ph.D!! A voice of confidence, and a cheerleader in my time of doubt, I called them a day or two before my dissertation defense calling them asking them to make the drive from Savannah, GA to Washington, DC. This was after they'd repeatedly asked me if I wanted them to come and I -- being the big girl that I am/was -- insisted that they didn't need to. He and my mother came without hesitation or complaint.
As man who embodied the term “do for self”, he was so proud of me when I took the road less traveled, leaving the traditional workforce to start my own business. He was there when I crossed the finish line at my first sprint triathlon, and came prepared to go for a a walk around my favorite lake the next day!
Not only was he an emotional support, but also a physical participant and part inspiration for #TeamFNHY! Daddy knew chronic heart disease ran in his family, so he proactively maintained a healthy diet and was an avid walker for as long as I can remember, at one point he walked 25 miles per week for years. Even though he suffered from an initial heart attack in 2011, through the will of G-d and his dedication to his healthy lifestyle, he added years to his life and life to his years compared to the other men in his family. Even his physicians were astonished at how healthy he was, as he didn't fit the profile of a typical heart attack patient. I was proud of how he was able to maintain his health without the dependence on prescription medication. Then, there was that time that I was able to convince him to participate in the Savannah Rock n Roll 5K (3.1 mile) race. He and Tariq completed the race together.
His love for me extended to my family, embracing my husband and his son, a religious colleague, and friend. Our daughters, who he constantly tried to “kidnap” are affectionately known to him as his “friend” (Lady T) and his “buddy” (Joyful Y). They adored him equally, naming him their “Pop-pop”. A trip to the fair, berry picking, some time at the beach, or simply sitting with him in his favorite chair is how I pray they remember him. He won’t be here to meet our latest addition, but I know he would love this child as much as the rest.
The source of my discipline, strength, confidence, drive to succeed, and dedication
to execute excellence in all that I do, these 3 months since his passing have been some of the hardest days of my life. At the same time, when I look at all I was blessed to learn from him, it is indeed better to have loved AND to have been loved by my daddy, than to have never loved him at all.
“That’s why darling, it’s INCREDIBLE, that someone, so UNFORGETTABLE, thinks that I am. . .UNforgettable too-oo”.
I LOVE you Daddy and miss you dearly ❤️. Happy Father's Day!