We’d spend almost a month together and yesterday, he caught a flight back to Michigan from where we are in California.
It’s been surreal having him around. There has to be a word that’s more memorable than “memorable” to describe the experiences I’ve had with him during the past few weeks. My pastor once made a profound statement about recording events and memories. He said that “the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.” What you’re about to read, then, is my “scribbling” on “scratch paper” for my sake and, hopefully, for your sake as well.
I’ve taken my family for granted.
In theory, my family is priority. In reality, they have been tolerable at best. My itinerant living and independence have only aggravated this. Every time I get to spend time with them, however, a wave of guilt rushes over reminding me of the times I haven’t put the effort to make that phone call or send that Facebook message.
You tend to realize the value of something when you don’t have it. And that’s exactly how I felt when I came back from the airport and saw dada’s shorts lying around in the room.
I need to be more intentional about communicating with my family. No excuses.
Love is giving.
Last night I was watching the second sequel of Star Trek with my girlfriend. Khan’s riveting question to Captain Kirk after his capture got me thinking:
My crew is my family. Is there anything you wouldn’t do for your family, Captain?
My family may not be my crew. But I can’t begin to describe how much my family has sacrificed for me to have what I have. When we were on our way to Chicago, my dad and I got into a minor squabble about showing love. I argued that while I knew he was doing a lot for me and Khayali, he should affirm me verbally by saying nice and encouraging things. My dad sighed. Then he went on to vividly recount all the sacrifices amma and he had made so that Khayali l and I could have an education overseas.
By the time he finished, the waterworks began from my eyes. When I tried to give him a lesson on “words of affirmation” from Chapman’s infamous “5 love languages,” dada shut me up by giving me a dissertation on sacrificial love.
I was reminded that evening that love is giving. It gives continuously and sacrificially. I thought I knew it. My parents had lived it.
My dad is as Sri Lankan as one gets.
You can get the man out of Sri Lanka. But you cannot get Sri Lanka out of the man.
As I type, I am wearing the sarama he wore while he was here in California. From where I am sitting, I can also see the strainer he used to make his morning tea. In addition to that, I also remember the big hugs, the quintessential Sri Lankan head bob, and the “aiyo’s” he would appropriately employ at a given location. But wherever he went, people felt a genuine sense of kindness, respect, and hospitality emanating from his distinct personality.
In the past few weeks, Dada reminded me that I don’t have to respond to the pressure of conforming to the culture around me to have influence. Dada showed that I can be my Sri-Lankan, “fresh-off-the-boat” self and still make a difference in the lives of those I interact with.
God is love.
Dada being here was a miracle.
Few weeks before my graduation, dada, amma, and khayali showed up at the U.S embassy in Oman for their visa interviews. To our shock and dismay, all three of them were denied visas fearing that they will not come back to Oman after being seduced by the “greener pastures” of the country. (-___- )
My dad then reapplied for the visa alone hoping for a miracle. And that’s what happened. My mom and sister decided to spend the vacation in Sri Lanka whereas Dada flew over to the States to be with me.
God has showed His love these past few weeks in very tangible ways.
Out of His love, He brought my dad to witness the ceremony of the first college grad of his family.
Out of His love, He allowed my dad to meet the man who changed his life indefinitely.
Out of His love, He gave opportunity for my dad to see friends he hadn’t seen in decades.
Out of His love, He helped me get closer to my father.
Out of His love, He reignited my love of my family.
Out of His love, He drew our family closer to each other and to Him.
I believe none of this happened by chance or luck. I wholeheartedly attribute me being here and my dad coming here to the goodness and the grace of a personal, Almighty God who cares about you and me.
I miss my father. But I know I will see him again. It’s been refreshing and wonderful having him around.
My prayer for you, dear friend and reader, is that you’ll take some time to connect with your family. Truth is that as much as you and I hate to think about it, they’re not always going to be around.
“I have no time” is not a reason. It’s an excuse. You make time for what you want to make time for.
So get off the chair. Close the laptop. Close your browser.
Make that phone call. They’ll love you for it.