Ok… I suck at being a son!!
I forgot to do a Father’s Day post, but I did call him on the day, and that’s what really counts.
Now to describe my Dad… It’s difficult because he is incredibly complicated and, what some might say, full of contradictions. But for those who know him, he is just an original.
His parents were Rose and Antoun Bittar, both Syrian descendants. I mention this because I think being Arabic is already saying a mouthful.
My Dad is one of the most unusual people I know. He is a complete individual and a total non conformist.
He gave me the book of Mao for my graduation present from 6th grade. He built a house out of a water tower that he paid $600 dollars for. When I was 5 years old, he would take my brother and me to the Metropolitan Opera at least 3 times a week, while we waited for my Mother to get out of NYU Graduate School. Till this day, he works 7 days a week. He paints, sculpts, creates and builds. He ran the computer department at CUNY and taught for 30 years.
He struggled…. hard, with me being gay.
When I was younger I completely did not understand him. I thought he was very stern and tough. He would make us work, HARD; during the summers it would be five days a week and he made me read a book a week. On the other hand, he would take a guitar down to the water where we lived in Brooklyn and play Moon River to me after school.
He has always had a passion to live life to the fullest, without fear. I recently asked him where he wanted to go on vacation and he said Damascus, Syria. My response to him was, “Now? In a civil war?!!” His answer was, “Of course.”.
To me, he has been an amazing example of perseverance and strength. He knew my Mother would be handicapped from Arthritis, so he pushed her to further her career- from a Doctorate in American History to Computer Sciences, so that she would still be able to exercise her mental abilities through computers despite being physically handicapped. He has shown me the strength of what a partnership in marriage means.
He has had numerous struggles which, in his own time, he pushes on through.
He now owns a restaurant in Maine. Its mission is not to make any money but instead act as a social outlet for him, my Mom and the residents of Maine. He gets upset if he turns a profit. At first the town barred him from getting a restaurant license because they thought “he would bring the wrong element to town”. They were scared of his city ways and didn’t know what to make of him. In some ways I’m sure they didn’t know what they were getting into.
He is currently writing plays that are performed in Maine by the locals, most recently a story of a Muslim woman and a Hasidic woman changing places. When he told me about this play I said, “Are you kidding? They don’t even know what a Hasidic Jew is!” to which he just laughed and continued to move forward with it. You got to love him!!
We have grown to love each other very much. He has gotten a little more comfortable with me being gay, even if it did take almost 25 years, but hey, who’s counting?!
Seriously, I love him very much and he has become a dear friend who I rely on quite a bit and talk to every other day, as well as an amazing role model.
So, happy belated (publicly) Father’s day, dad!