This November will be 27 years since I left Iran. Twenty of those years were spent without getting a chance to go home. There was so much to miss that when I finally went home in spring of 2000, I truly regretted the time lapse. I really wished I would have visited sooner.
My mother was walking with a hump and my father was old and frail. My sisters were fighting gray hair and some conversations with people my age included our ailments, which really brought me to realize I'm getting old. Aunts and uncles youth had left their faces a long time ago, it seemed.
Of course, I didn't forget the fact that these folks went through a lot of hardship. There was that ridiculous “revolution”, if you can call it that, and everything else that followed. And just when they were getting used to some sort of normalcy, the eight-year war started. I just realized the other day that one of Saddam's charges is his war on Iran. (Funny, the country who manipulated him to attack is pushing the charge!)
So, they got old, a lot faster than I did.
I didn't have it that easy in America. I was all by myself and away from a warm and very close family and relatives. But I didn't have to hide from falling bombs either. The lonely life in America, as hard as it was, with little to no money, was still a lot better than nights without power, food, or the security of a descent life in Iran.
I'm very much a realist. In the years I've been here I have prepared myself for the day my parents wouldn't be around any more. Perhaps it is had to do with the field of work I chose. Being in medicine, death becomes a reality sooner and easier, at least I assume so. One day my parents will not be here for me to pick up the phone and call to hear their voice. I will not be able to ask my mother “do you need anything from America?”, “can I send you anything?”
My mother always asks me to send usless vitamins she thinks are good for God knows what. My father is very different. He has not asked for anything in the nearly 27 years I have been in America. I have to ask my sisters if he really needs anything.
Lately, I have noticed that I think about my parents more. The fact that they are mortal and will be gone has started to bother me. I can't get it out of my head and I'm afraid I'm going to lose them.
This has made me want to go to Iran sooner and more often. As most of us who work and run a business know, that is just not possible. It is not a weekend trip. Knowing that little fact doesn't help my guilt however, that I have abandoned them and the burden of their old age, doctor visits, and needs of any kind has fallen on my sisters' shoulders. Sending money only remedies that guilt a little, but it does not, in any ways, replace my being there.
I fight these inner battles every day, while trying to take care of my own business and life here. Meanwhile, when any of these concerns are echoed to my sisters or parents, all I hear is relentless words of complete unselfishness on their part through sayings like, “don't worry you have to live your own life”.
I often think of the amazingly heroic act my parents in letting their only son leave at the young age of 17, never asking for anything nor expecting it. Now they need my presence more than ever, although they won't ever ask. I am amazed at this act of true parenting.
Mom and Dad,
I know you can't read these words, but my appreciation as a child, goes well beyond thanking you for giving me life and caring for me. I hope I have a chance to tell you that your decision to push me out of the nest is completely understood. You waved good-bye to a son at a time where neither one of you wanted to, but felt you had to. Hell, I don't think anyone wanted that, but thanks. Thanks for sacrificing and suffering. What you did goes well beyond anyone's expectations, especially me.
And if there is ever a prize or token of appreciation for what you have done, it must be the fact that I turned out, pretty much, how you expected. Knowing you two, that ought to be enough.