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A genuine tribute to fathers on their special day

As an educator, who possesses a passionate attitude and a profound love of teaching, I believe one of the most important responsibilities I have is instilling moral virtues within my students.

Father’s Day allows me the opportunity to emphasize the importance of expressing love and appreciation to our fathers. To accomplish that task, I usually allocate one class to have an open forum to discuss the significance and the means of celebrating Father’s Day.

Last year, I posed the following questions to my students: Why do we need to have a special day to display our love towards our fathers? What does Father’s Day mean to you? As a Chinese person, do you feel comfortable being affectionate and loving toward your father?

Most of my students stressed they loved their fathers and they knew it. They concluded that having Father’s Day demeaned their feelings. They explained that the event could be interpreted as a reason to ignore their dads all year and then compensate for it by showering their fathers with love on that one day.

The majority of my students admitted that they were conditioned to be conservative and showing affection to their fathers, and vice-versa, was unnatural.

Most Chinese students felt that Father’s Day is mainly a Western commercial celebration to exploit capitalism. They believe in Asia it is just a regular day.

There were a few students, mostly females, who thought Father’s Day was a golden opportunity to spend time with their dads. I argued that the Chinese fathers deserve a special day for the sacrifices they make to secure a future for their kids. A higher education is a financial burden for most fathers.

Some of my students come from small towns where their dads work as farmers on a meager annual salary, yet they sacrificed everything in order to send their kids to a university.

My zealous argument did persuade some of my students to think about celebrating Father’s Day, of which I was overjoyed about.

Prior to Father’s Day this year (June 18, 2017), I embark upon a journey of deep sorrow, a feeling of emptiness and regrets. I attribute my deep sorrow to the fact that I lost my father when I was 15-years-old. I suffered a great deal of mental anguish and pain for not having him around. Being unable to share my moments of joy left me empty.

I would have loved my father being around to help me handle life’s challenges and, also give advice on raising my two children. My own children were also denied the opportunity to discover they had a wonderful grandfather and how he did his best to provide for my mother, brothers, sister and I.

My dad was a remarkable man. Despite being almost illiterate, he was able to establish a successful business as a contractor in the cotton manufacturing industry.

Although our time together was short, my father and I were very close. In the early years of my childhood, his business took him to other cities in Egypt, which were far away from my hometown of Asyut at that time. But I did spend more time with him when he sold his business and helped raising his young family when I was five years old.

Our relationship started on a shaky ground, due to my obstinate nature and my father’s tendency to act in an authoritarian manner. My siblings always followed my father’s orders without questioning them.

The contrary stood true for me. I needed to be convinced with the logic behind a requested task prior to accomplishing it. That behavior and conduct on my part infuriated my father yet with passing time, they earned his respect.

Despite our quarrels, I was the only son with him holding his hand when he died. He just smiled at me before he took his last breath. The memory of that smile will live with me forever.

The author is a Canadian teacher in China.

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