Father’s Day: Sacrifices we take for granted, the true measure of a father’s love

A father’s sacrifices aren’t always grand gestures, they are the daily, often invisible choices made out of love

Mahnoor Vazir June 16, 2024

It’s funny how the most vivid memories are often the ones tinged with regret. I was 11 when I first felt the heavy thud of guilt that comes from breaking my father's heart. He had just returned from a business trip, and I waited eagerly for him to unpack, eyes wide with anticipation for any possible gifts. When he handed me a shoe box, my excitement was palpable. But as I tore it open, my heart sank. There, nestled in tissue paper, lay a pair of trainers – pink and purple. 

At 11, those colours were a social death sentence and I deemed them too girly and uncool for my budding pre-teen sensibilities. Without a second thought, I blurted out, "I don't like them." My father's face fell. I saw the disappointment flicker across his eyes and the gift he bought out of love, was now a symbol of my ingratitude.

I only realised the enormity of my rudeness a few minutes after I had left the room, but my childish pride wouldn’t let me apologise and it was too late, the damage was done. Later that day, I could hear my father’s murmur from the next room, as he recounted the day's events to my mother. Tears welled up in my eyes, and for the first time, I understood the power of my words and how deeply they could wound. I vowed then, through sobs and sniffles, never to hurt him like that again.

My father has always been a man of quiet dedication who pulled out all the stops to ensure that my brother and I had the best. He sent us to the finest schools and when the time came for university, he didn't hesitate. Even though sending me away from home meant dipping into savings and tightening belts, he did it with a smile. His reward has always been our achievements, in the opportunities we have that he did not. My education - and more than that, my happiness - he believed, was an investment worth every penny. 

 Perhaps one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do was to walk away from my parents the day I left for university. My mother later recounted how, after I had left, she found my father sitting on the edge of the bed, his shoulders slumped. It was the first time she had seen him cry. Hearing that was difficult since all my life he’s been a man of boundless energy and infectious joy. He’s the kind of person who breaks into spontaneous song or engages in playful banter that leaves everyone in stitches. His bursts of fun are random and electrifying, a trait I like to think I’ve inherited. My father would rather forgo a night out with friends to spend time with us. On business trips, he messages us from lonely hotel rooms, his texts tinged with regret about being away. He treats us less like children and more like friends, and in my life, I can count on one hand the times he’s raised his voice at us, each instance striking like a dagger because of its rarity. It's easy to take such a father for granted, especially when he wears his heart on his sleeve and asks for so little in return. 

Reflecting on my relationship with my father, I’m acutely aware of the privilege I enjoy. I am struck by the profound realisation of how often I take him for granted—a luxury many do not have. I now understand that his presence and support are gifts, not entitlements.We assume a father’s strength is inexhaustible, their resources endless, and their patience unwavering. We forget that they too have feelings and needs, that behind their secure façades are hearts that can be hurt, eyes that can weep, and spirits that can break. In mine, I see a man who has always placed his family at the centre of his world.

 In my father's world, love is demonstrated through actions. He doesn’t need to say "I love you" - although he does, sometimes multiple times a day - because his love is evident in the sacrifices he makes, which like most children, I ended up taking for granted most of my life. As I write this, I realise how much I owe to my father—not just for the tangible gifts, like those pink and purple trainers, but for the intangible ones. Father's Day is a reminder to acknowledge the unsung heroes of our lives, so here’s to the man who has always been my greatest champion. To my father and all fathers who give their love and support unconditionally: thank you.

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