Due to Dad’s coal-black hair and handsome looks, one of my friends asked me, in all his childhood-seriousness, “Is your Dad James Bond?” To me, he may as well have been.
As a kid, I obviously thought that my Dad was the coolest person in the world. But the thing about Dad is that he was cool without trying to be cool. He just had that air about him, along with a quick wit and a sharp sense of humor. My Dad even had in-jokes with my friends. My parents were like a second family to all of my friends. Even to this day, many of the friends I grew up with are all quite comfortable sitting in the backyard with my parents and just chatting about life and the like. He played video games with me, and on his own. We fought each other in Virtua Fighter 2, would discuss strategies or challenges in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, and later on with the Metroid Prime series (which he beat before me) and, most recently, Minecraft.
He built communication towers most of his life, which meant being on the road frequently and away from my mom. But when I came along, the first child in the family, he settled into a desk job at the tower company he worked for. He would frequently bring me into work and let me roam around, and I would climb all over the forklift in the back, or snap away at the typewriter in the main room, or make coffee for all the workers. And then he would usually take me to the Space and Science Centre (now re-named Telus World of Science). When we went to our family trailer in Radium, I would ride on the back of his motorcycle as we explored the dusty mountain backroads. Later, when I was old enough, he would let me ride it by myself.
But I think the one thing is that Dad was never judgmental about who I wanted to be. Dad loved hockey, and no doubt would have liked if I had gone into hockey, but when I didn’t want to he was fine with that. I went through tee ball, gymnastics, karate and then piano lessons and Dad supported me at each one. So when the initial shock died down of me being a Muslim, Dad was again supportive of me. Since Leduc had no place to buy halal meat, he would drive into Edmonton to one of the butcher shops on the south side and stock up on meat. To this day he still drives into the city to buy meat, partly because, as he says, it tastes better and partly so that whenever I come to visit, he’ll always be able to cook something I can eat. Dad is the chef in our family—as are most of the males—and so he taught me how to cook, a skill I’ve found invaluable living on my own.
When I was young, I was very envious of my Dad. I was envious because he always seemed so confident and surely, like he always had a handle on what was going on. I very rarely saw him lose his temper. Whenever I had to talk to him about a problem that, to me, seemed catastrophic, he was always able to bring me back down to earth. And even if he couldn’t provide a solution, he could at least help me see the problem in a different way. I always wanted to be like him. I told my mom one time, “I wish I was more like Dad.” She said to me, “You’re more like your father than you think.” And back then, I thought that was impossible. I never thought I would be as confident and practically wise as Dad was.
But today I see a lot of Dad’s personality in myself. His level-headedness, practicality and practical wisdom. And sometimes, when I look at photos of my Dad, I’m surprised because at first glance I can’t always tell if it’s him or me staring back.