I was born in a country whose fate seemed to change overnight. We had to flee our home as turmoil erupted. Never to return. We moved to a place that allowed us to find shelter. A place that allowed my father to work. A place where those two things were deeply intertwined. If you did not work, you could not stay there. So, my father worked. And he worked. And he spent every last dime on me and my mom. I was aware from an early age how hard it was for him. To be honest, I never really wanted anything besides books. Unfortunately, those were very expensive in our new home.
What I loved most, was to just be with my dad. He would walk with me by the water, or we would drive to the jetty and look at the sea, and pretend to fish. I still remember him picking me up from school and stopping to get ice cream on certain days. To this day no ice cream has matched the taste of the ones we would get.
He had the kindest heart of anyone I knew. I know this because, my dad was a doctor. And a very good one. If he had lived anywhere else, we would not have to worry about anything. But a doctor’s income in the country that we moved to was a little different than you might be used to. It was not the same as a doctor in the US. Not even close. But my father did not go into medicine to get rich, he believed in the oath to help others. He helped many people who had no money to pay. Even when he needed the money for rent, he would not charge them. It was years later when a lady saw my dad in the store and recognized him. She was one of the ones he had not charged. She wanted to give him the money that she owed for his kindness, and he said no, keep it. I never expected you to pay me back.
At the age of 18 my parents woke me up one morning and put me on a plane to a different country. They knew there was no way to obtain a decent education where we lived and that the only hope I had was in the US. My parents were only thinking of the benefits I would reap in this new country and thought nothing of themselves. They didn’t know how they would pay for my education. Or my housing. They didn’t even know when they would see me again. But they knew I needed a degree to better myself. Even if he had to make sacrifices himself. He paid for my education. He paid for my rent. He paid for my books. And anything else I needed for school. It would be close to ten years before we would be reunited. Ten years just disappeared in the blink of an eye.
In recent years I was able to see my parents more, but due to a seriesof unfortunate events, my parents had to finally settle in London. There they lived out the rest of their years with my sister. My daughter and I were able to see them only very infrequently since they were in London and we were in the US. So finding the time and money to travel to London for more than a few days was very difficult. If not for my sister, I don’t know what I would have done. She dedicated the past several years of her life to their care. That was her life. Her job.
Ultimately, I was not there when my mom passed but with the help of dear friends, I was able to fly to London to help pay for and attend her funeral. I just happened to be in London when my dad passed. But had to return shortly thereafter to resume my “normal” life. I won’t be able to attend his funeral but at least I got to say goodbye.
My dad and my mom were the love of my life. I lost my mom December 23, 2016 and my dad shortly after on July 8, 2017. In the midst of all this, the other love of my life, my 9-year-old daughter had to have major knee surgery on both her knees. Not satisfied with the hardship my husband and I were experiencing with caring for my daughter and the recent loss of my mom, life threw me another curveball in the form of a car accident in December.
With the cost for the wreck, my daughter's surgery and continuing physical therapy costs we were just barely able to pay for my mom’s funeral. Now, seven months later, I have to lay my dad to rest too. And we simply do not have the $3,880 that a basic service will cost for him.
Thank you for your kindness,
- Ripu Rai
- deshond mcgee
- Rebecca Gazda
- April Wallen
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