NOTE: In April this year I was fortunate to meet Neena Nizar Adam for the first time. Over the last few months Neena and I have worked closely, chatted at length, organized impromptu parties for our colleagues, grumbled about work pressures, reveled in the joy of teaching and today, I’m happy to count her as a close friend. Innumerable challenges notwithstanding, Neena is one of the liveliest, wittiest and most talented people I know. She is a strong woman whose strength and spirit inspires so many others on an everyday basis.
Neena works closely with the SFS Group (Special Families Support) in Dubai, providing emotional support, resources and organizing activities for children with special needs and helps these families with the support and love they need to cope with their daily highs and lows. You can read more about SFS and the remarkable work they do here: www.sfs-group.net
I am happy that Neena is sharing a tiny part of her own life story here and I can think of no better way to start my new ‘Guest Post’ section. Read on and be inspired.
My Hero by Neena Nizar Adam
I was three when I decided that my father was my hero.
As I stood at the Heathrow airport waving goodbye to him, I didn’t readily comprehend that I wouldn’t see him, or my family, again for another whole year; daddy was leaving me to stay with my Uncle – a surgeon who was scheduled to operate on me that summer.
I’ve never been one of those whiney or fussy kids and my father was never one of those melodramatic fathers you see pictured so quaintly in soap operas; I never sat on his lap while we shared a ‘heart to heart’ or a ‘philosophy of life’. He never read bedtime stories or played piggy-back. Instead, he was my ‘matter-of-fact’ man. He had a job to do and he did it.
He waved goodbye unceremoniously and was off.
Now, 30 years later, as parenthood has fallen upon me like a ton of wet cement, I often wish I could be him.
I cannot recall my father ever crying over me or pitying his plight. I’ve never seen him Google up a symptom or a prescription, but most of all I’ve never seen him lose hope or hang his head low in defeat.
My father was my Ironman and hulk all rolled up into one. He would whisk me off to one end of the globe and back, meeting tirelessly with this doctor and that. If there was some new treatment to be tried, he would be there with me trying it. He was always the last person I saw when they rolled me into the theatre room and the first one I saw when I came out.
I have often wondered how he managed to keep a straight face through all the trials: fixing calipers, making corrective shoes, carrying me up and down the stairs to school, taking me for therapies. I still remember the ease with which he cut my plaster as I sat sprawled out on the kitchen floor while mummy called upon God and everyone else. How did he continue to charge ahead when every step was shrouded in uncertainty? How did he pick up the pieces and start again with equal zest when all his tools were worn out?
I’m certain he felt pain. I’m sure he was confused and lost at several stages. I’ve often seen him turn away from me in hospital rooms or purse his lips tight when the ‘news’ wasn’t too good. I’ve learnt to answer his searching eyes with “no it doesn’t hurt that much, dad” and to quickly nod approval to yet another so-called “new breakthrough.”
For an Engineer from a little town in Kerala, I doubt my father ever imagined himself to be the parent of a child who needed special care, a child who would test his faith and exhaust his resources. But he never stopped trying, and he never gave up on his child and I am here today standing tall only because of him.
Of late I’ve come across many parents who wonder if they are doing all they can for their special child. Despite the love and relentless dedication, the ‘nagging voice’ that taunts and haunts them every now and then never seems to go away.
I don’t know if my father ever heard such a voice in his head or even considered such a thing. He charged ahead with the firm resolve that he did everything he could with the tools he was given. As a parent staring down a similar path, I can only hope that one day I will attain this state of perfection.
It’s not so easy being a parent… and it’s a lot harder being a parent of a child whose needs are far more trying. But Dad you did a great job and I’m so grateful to be your special child!
Related Article from Gulf News: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/traffic-transport/mother-with-restricted-mobility-gets-uae-driving-licence-1.1046644