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Taking shape
For Iranian fathers everywhere

By Ali Ardeshir Jowza
March 3, 2004

I chose to write this, for I know Iranian fathers all over the world have sons who look up to them, and who strive to be like them. My story is of my extreme admiration for the man that I will probably never be, but strive to be everyday of my life.

One in life usually has a hero they look up to and try to if not emulate then live their life from the example set by their hero. My hero since I was a child was my father.

From the beginning I have looked up to my father and have sought to be like him. The way he lives his life and how he lived his life is a model for me that I don't think I can ever reach but will try. My visions on, on Iran, on athletics, politics, culture, history, and on how to live life have been shaped by him.

Through my father I learned what it meant to be Iranian. He never let me forget where my roots are, who I am, and always told me to hold my head up high as an Iranian. I was introduced to Iranian history and culture through my dad. His accounts of what Iran was, how great it was, where it was headed, remain imbedded in me today.

However, realizing we lived in a land far away from Iran, he allowed me to experience and in a way let go of myself being Iranian for awhile, and I think watched with joy as I learned of myself and my country and 'came back to Iran', not through his insistence or pressure, but from his gradual guidance.

I may not be the perfect Iranian, or live my life instilled with Iranian values, culture and pride, as much as he, but I try my best.

From the very beginning my father stressed the importance of athletics in life. He with less opportunities then I managed to play football at Rah-Ahan and Tehran Javan as a striker. If not for paarti-baazi, and family issues, I have a firm belief that he would have represented the tri-colors of Iran on the national team.

Later he led the Sheer-O- Khorsheed football team, and if I remember correctly, his young team lost 2-1 to Nasser Hejazi's Taj FC, a huge accomplishment with a second to third division team coming within inches of tying and or beating the mighty Tehran Giants.

He also had a stint at wrestling, and he always boasts how in a practice session he pinned one of Iran's national team wrestlers (his name escapes me now). However, my grandmother would not allow him to enter the field of wrestling, and the family saw no future in football, and advised him to leave his passion.

In athletics, he gave me the opportunity to be anything I want in America, and encouraged me each step of the way, even when early I gave up on football (soccer) and pursued basketball, he was there at my games cheering me on, and gave up his free time practicing with me. When I decided to go back to football, again he was there, training me to be the best at what I pursued.

Unfortunately, I did not use that to my advantage, and gave up on my dreams of one day playing professional football. Too many distractions put forth in America and my weak will to follow something to the end when I was young hindered me from becoming what I could have, with my father as a great coach at my side.

My dream would have been to play football and have my dad watch as I scored goal after goal for Iran and Taj (Esteghlal). In that I failed, I was given so many opportunities then he had, yet came much shorter then he.

In what I'll call my father's "second" and most important phase of his life, is where he managed to serve our great Iran to the greatest of his abilities. He was able to rise in the ranks at the Red Lion and Sun Society (Sheer-0-Khorsheed) and at the end make Deputy Director. He served the Shah and Iran to the best of his abilities. He represented Iran with all his ability and passion.

For example, he made a tour of Vietnam, in medically assisting the American troops. For that, my father was to receive the Homayoon Taj from the last Pahlavi Shah, but 1979 came and the Islamic Revolution put a halt to that.

However, even at the throes of revolution, my father put his duties of helping others first, as he played some key roles in assisting the "hostages" in the US embassy, in each subsequent attack. His reward for his duty to his nation was nine months in jail, followed by torture and threat of execution.

To make a long story short he managed to get himself and his family out of a Iran destroyed by Islamic fundamentalists, but he did what many didn't, and given the opportunity to plunder great amount of wealth out of Iran, he didn't (I wish he had though).

I admire my father for serving our great ancient mihan, Iran, so well and only hope one day that I will be given the same opportunity to serve my homeland with the same amount of love and dedication he did.

Coming to the United States, my father's character and strength shined as he had to start all over again in life, and refusing to see his family fall, this great man, for a time put his ego aside and worked at a gas station. His knowledge and determination saw him back in medicine at Stanford University, but he took the long road in getting there.

Never once did he complain though, and showed that he would do anything for his family. He worked all day and then expended the rest of his energy towards his family, while his family lived comfortably, as he toiled.

He never let me know that the work tired him out, and he ensured that I (and my sister) enjoyed everything the United States had to offer without realizing how much sweat and blood was put into my sister and I enjoying a comfortable if not spoiled life in America.

In stark contrast, his childhood was spent, in a period where his father (my grandfather) a Colonel in Reza Shah's Army died and he along with four brothers and a mother managed to survive and prosper. Through hard work, devotion and dedication, my father managed to live his childhood.

As a kid in the States, I grew up watching my father trying to help the needy, crying when he saw homeless people on the streets, helping those around us that needed it. All the while he never asked for anything in return. I can remember countless times where our neighbors needed help, whether it be financial or otherwise, my father would be the first to offer and lend his hand in support.

Money was never an issue for my father, and he continues to teach me that money is nothing compared to what you can do for your fellow human beings and family. To him it is all about giving, without asking for a dime back. He is also there for his family no matter what, which has allowed me to reflect what it all means to be a father as well as a human being that cares for all.

Educationally, if it was not for him (and my mother) I don't know where I'd be, for their constant pushing, enabled me to be where I am today. However, again, with all the opportunities they put at my feet, I am nowhere near where my dad was, and will probably never reach what he did, but I will strive my best to do so, to make him proud.

My father (and mother) worked hard for me to comfortably reach the level I am at today, and each way as I changed courses from being a doctor, to a lawyer, they stood by me, and although I won't become the doctor they wanted me to become, I have pursued my passions with their encouragement, and support.

I can write on and on about my father, and I'm sure he'll be flattered if not embarrassed when he reads this. But to spare him and the readers more stories of what my father taught me through example and instruction, I'll end by saying that he like other Iranian fathers knows that their children appreciate them fully, although we don't always show it.

Today my father faces another battle: cancer. However, I am fully confident that he will come out on top as he has done with all the battles and obstacles he has faced in his life. This "ode to him" as some will put it, is to let him know that I believe in him to easily win this war, and through it all I will be right behind him as a loyal son and soldier.

Ali Ardeshir Jowzais a Graduate Student: American University (Washington, DC). He has a Masters in International Service (Comparative and Regional Studies-Middle East and Central Asia). He is a Research Analyst at National Institute for Public Policy in Washinton, DC.

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By Ali Ardeshir Jowza



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