I was around three when my mother met him.
He said I took one look at him and hid behind her dress. I peered around as he reached down to pick me up, frantically screamed and did a wiggle move out of his arms.
That was the start of our relationship.
My father (technically step-father), Halil, grew up in rural Turkey. He worked hard and was eventually offered a full paid scholarship to the University of Basel in Switzerland. That is where my mother and I would eventually settle after they met through a marriage ad in Islamic Horizons. My parents were forward thinking even in the 80’s!
His family accepted my mom and I with open hearts and arms. My sister was born in Switzerland a year after my parents married and some of my best memories as a child are with what some would call my step-family – running around with my cousins in our family owned Turkish supermarket and summer family trips to the Alps.
I must admit though, we were confusing to some people. We looked mismatched.
Here was this African, kinky haired, chocolate brown baby wrapped around a freckled faced Mediterranean looking man.
People in Switzerland – and then in the US, where we moved when I was nine – would stare and ask questions. But as a child I was unaware of the curiosity.
What I was aware of was the love and kindness he showed me. He spoke gently to me, protected me from the harshness of the world, and took care of me when I had the chicken pox. I watched his every move.
As a young girl, I was subconsciously building my idea of what it meant to be a man and father. He was setting the foundation for how I would view men and what I would seek in a future partner. In my mind, he epitomized what it meant to be a man. No one could even come remotely close, not even my own biological father, who was suffering from mental illnesses that heavily affected the relationship that I could have with him.
Now, as an adult, I sometimes look at my mid-aged father and realize how blessed I am that he was placed in my life. It amazes me how Allah places love and mercy between the hearts of people. The love He placed between my parents was Allah’s mercy to me as well – I am eternally grateful for the gift of my father.
I thank all the great men who take the risk of marrying women with children, especially those with daughters. You are a powerful model for us and we love you.
Ihssan Tahir is a twenty something self-proclaimed “SistaQueen” living in Chicago. She is a registered nurse and specializes in emergency and trauma medicine. In her spare time she enjoys writing and practicing the violin. You can follow her candid blog about her husband hunting endeavors and relationship tidbits at http://muslimnlove.com/.