I was waking up my 6 year old for school or suhur, or something the other day, with my usual growl and frown, and couldn’t help but pause and remember my father, sending prayers for him. I flashed back to how he used to wake us up with a loud smile, a boisterous nature, and a happy, off-to-the-right-track beginning of the morning jolt. He would laugh when we grumbled, covered our faces with our blankets, or screamed “I’m getting up” for the hundredth time. And he’d come back and wake us up again a couple more times, ever loud and cheerful. Fast forward to the present, and here I am waking my daughter for school, growl on my face, thinking of how much I’d rather be in my own bed, threatening her that if she wakes her sister or brother up with her loud noises, I’ll be so angry at her. Wow! What a difference! Your legacy still lives on Baba, and I ask Allah to reward you for every kick we gave and every smile/laugh you answered us with.
I try to wake Sumayya up with no growls now, no scowls, no angry countenance. I haven’t yet made it to the stage of being happy, smiley, and cheerful when I’m waking her up. Maybe one day soon I’ll get there. What keeps me going is the saying of my Prophet (saws), “Even a smile is charity.” What keeps me going is the thought that I’m giving back to you in your death, after you have left this world. What keeps me going is that I hope to one day teach my children through a gentle memory that I leave behind, triggered by a new moment in their life. I never imagined that I would still be learning from you today, but the moments you spent with us trigger memories every time I enter a new stage in my life. It is those memories that have the power to fix my character, long after you have passed. May our legacies to our children be memories filled with smiles and laughter, even in the grumpiest hour of the day.
Fatima lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three little musketeers.