Flower delivery in Iran


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Flower delivery in Iran


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Man to man
I owe everything to him, everything

Sina Sina
June 15, 2001
The Iranian

The other day I happened to walk into a greeting-card store and noticed the strategically placed Father's Day cards on the rack near the entrance. The cards came in every color and relation: Son, daughter, stepson, etc. I stopped to pick out a few cards (I always buy more than one).

While I shuffled through the gigantic display, all I could think about was my father and how much this man means to me. I began to feel a little frustrated. Actually, I was frustrated about a lot of things; about how little I have communicated with my father lately, beyond regular business.

I was angry with myself. Here I was, caught off-guard trying to funnel all those emotions in a few simple cards. I was asking myself, "Why does this store have to remind me that Father's Day is near? He lives in Iran, so what does he care if it's Father's Day over here? Why do I have to wait for Father's Day to thank him? Would the cards get my feelings across? Would he even like the cards?"

By that time I had picked a couple of cards for review but I didn't like any of them that much and I put them back. With all their charm and applied sensitivity, they somehow seemed impersonal. I decided I'd write a letter instead.

Back in my apartment, while staring blank at the white sheet of paper, I felt silly because I had found the right time to have a total block. My mind was racing and traveling way back to my early childhood. I noticed that all my favorite memories of me and my father are still there, and not a bit tainted. That was reassuring. I wanted to start the letter but nothing was happening. I didn't know where to start, or at least, ease into.

This went on for a few days, but something had triggered my mind hard enough to be constantly thinking about what I wanted to say to him. Maybe I should have bought the cards, but that would have been the easy way out, and I couldn't accept that. Not this time. I have too much respect for him to do that.

I finally wrote the letter. In a way, it was the hardest thing I had ever written, yet it was very simple, because on that sheet of paper, I was talking to my Dad. That made it simple. I basically told him how much he means to me and why. I thanked him for teaching me the ways of life when I needed to know them, and when I was ready to know them. I wanted him to really know what a hard-working person I think he is.

I went over a lot of memories in the letter like when he used to take me to school in the mornings in his blue Peugeot 504 back when I was in fourth grade. In winters, he used to leave the house a couple of minutes before I did to warm up the car, so by the time I got in, the heater was warm enough. I used to love those morning rides. We used to talk about everything I initiated. I really enjoyed those talks because there were no interruptions. It was just me and him -- man to man.

Besides the drives to school, we used to take a lot of leisurely drives together. He loved taking me with him to wherever he went. I loved being with him. It made me feel exultant to be with him. I felt so content and safe. His presence still does that to me.

As the years progressed, our talks became more serious. Our conversations revolved more around the subject of choosing a career. I was about to choose a major in high school. I remember one day telling him that so and so is going to take the math major but I'm more partial to natural sciences. I was really confused. I remember vividly that he looked at me and said, "Never compare yourself with anyone. Never compare your life with anyone else's. You are Sina and you have your own life. Others have theirs. Do what you like to do. You can be a doctor, or even become a welder. As long as it is you, you've done the right thing. Never hurt anyone, and never, ever, cheat. Always go forward like a man, always." I am still using that bit of wisdom a couple of times a day.

I remember turning thirteen or so and girls were becoming a big mystery to me. I had heard from my father's old friends in various gatherings that he used to be quite a lady's man when he was in college. So one day while we were driving, I asked him -- in so many words -- about how to impress girls. I remember him giving the answer a bit of thought and while he was pulling into a gas station in Tehran's Mirdamad Avenue he answered, "The minute you try to impress a girl intentionally, that's when you've already started to look like a looser."

He added, "You don't impress girls with your clothes or your car or anything. If that's the impression they're looking for, they're not worth it. Impression has to come from within." And then he said this: "You'll most probably meet the woman of your life when you're at your worst. When you're least expecting it."

Well, guess what? My first serious conversation with my wife was in a family gathering when I had just spilled a full cup of Turkish coffee on my lap. I looked like a slob. We still laugh about it, but I did meet the woman of my life at that very moment. I still think about all that and say, "He was right. How about that?!" I still can't believe it.

I left Iran when I was seventeen and did not return for nine years. During that time he came to see me four times and had basically put his life on hold to help me get an education. I knew how hard it was for him to visit me -- visa, finances, etc. I have a lot fond memories from those visits too, like the conversation we had while having breakfast in a greasy-spoon in downtown Boston in the dead of winter on our way to get me a decent suite for an upcoming college interview. He gave me his all. In the letter, I acknowledged that fact and thanked him for it, just so he knows. I owe everything to him, everything.

I left Iran again right after I got married to my wife. My wedding day was the happiest day of my life for two reasons: One, because I got married to the girl I loved. And because on that day, my father took me aside and told me that he is very proud of me. I didn't expect that. It was the best present he could have ever given me. I had his blessings. I was ecstatic. I was off on a fresh horse named Pride.

The bond that exists between children and their fathers is magical (mothers, those little angels are also equally noteworthy, but I leave that for another time). It never changes and can only improve in quality. I think whenever anyone thinks about his or her father, the feelings are still very vivid and overbearing, no matter if they're still with us or have passed away.

In 1988, I was watching Chet Atkins play his famous song "I still can't say goodbye" to a group of world's most famous guitarists from every discipline. Atkins had written a song about his father and by the time he finished singing it, there was not a single dry eye in the audience. Some of these guys were notorious for having very tough Rock Star images. They were all weeping. It was an amazing display of emotions. Just goes to show you that when it comes to our fathers, we are still that little kid again. Some things never change.

I hope my father has gotten the letter. I'll find out the next time I speak to him. One day I'll be a father myself and only wish that I can be half as good at it as he was. It has not been easy keeping up with him, but it sure has been a blessing to be his son.

I read somewhere about a conversation that a son was having with his father. The son said, "You know dad, if we gather all our favorite memories and pile them up, they would only amount to a couple of hours." The father replied, "Yup," and looked into his son's eyes and said, "Precious, aren't they?"

Thanks dad for everything. Happy Father's Day!


The following is from the song "I still can't say goodbye" by Chet Atkins (1988):

"You know, every time I look in the mirror I see my Dad.

I think that's why this song means so much to me:


When I was young my Dad would say

"Come on son let's go out and play."

Sometimes it seems like yesterday


Then I climb up, the closet shelf

When I was all by myself

Grab his hat, and fix the brim

Pretending I was him.


I walked by a Salvation Army store

Saw a hat like my Daddy wore

Tried it on when I walked in

Still trying to be like him.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
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