Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sido...How I Miss You!

One of my favorite pictures of all time...
It is of Sido (far right) carrying my mother,
My uncles (his sons) are standing in front.
Wadi Hunain (Palestine), 1946.

My Grandfather (Sido) , Nazif El Khairy, was born in 1906 in Ramleh, to Sheikh Mustafa Yousef Ahmad Abdelrazzaq El Khairy, a graduate of Al Azhar University; the mayor of Ramleh for over 20 years and a very popular political leader of that region, and Fareeza Al-Taji.

Sido attended the American University of Beirut and graduated in 1928. Afterwards he left to London to attain his Graduate Degree from the University of London. He went back home to Palestine and was the District Commissioner for most parts of that region at the time: Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nazareth, Gaza, Jaffa and then once again in Jerusalem. 

In 1948, he was  forced to evacuate his home in his beloved Ramleh , along with his family,  because it was declared a military zone. He was a well respected figure  in all the areas he served in and everybody loved him as they did his father before him.

But no one loved him as much as his family and felt the loss as his loved ones have. We still feel his loss. Every one of his children and grandchildren has special memories of this wonderful, kind, generous, compassionate human soul.

Sido passed on when I was only 12 years old and I still remember begging my mother to take me to see him while he was sick. It took so much effort to convince her to finally take me. She did not want me to see him the way he was. She wanted me to remember him walking and laughing, but I was stubborn and could not accept that. I could not allow him to leave me without playing a game of cards with me.

You see... Sido had vowed not to play cards with anyone else but himself after my dear uncle (who currently lives in Montreal and helped me with all the above dates) and mother cheated while playing a game of Pinnacle a long time before I was born... a game I was never taught to play unfortunately and would still love to learn. For years, I tried to get him to play with me but he would sit me next to him, draw fantastic detailed pictures of animals for me, such as donkeys, roosters, cats and dogs, read stories to me, but never once play cards with me.

Because of that, it was of vital importance for my 12 year old mind to break that vow of his before he decided to set out on his journey to leave this Earthly dimension. And when I managed to do so, I was in bliss because he was smiling despite the pain he was in.... I was so happy which simply helped me forget his fragile state. 

This was the second to last time I saw him. I do not wish to talk about the last time as it pains me too much until now but I remember how at the funeral, I fought with everyone there because they were wearing black and white which was against Sido’s wishes... he did not want anyone to wear black... he did not like the Pharonic tradition, thought it was too depressing... I wore a Royal Blue shirt and a white vest with a yellow trimming… My selfish immature young heart failed to realize that I was not the only one in pain during that time.

One of my fondest memories of Sido was when I was very young. He used to always take me for walks around the 1st circle in Amman, buy me a soft strawberry and vanilla ice-cream from a sweet shop called Delice. I will never forget how once, as we were walking down a hill back to his home, my teddy bear’s head fell off (I was carrying two) and rolled underneath a parked white car. You have to remember that he was old at the time but that did not stop him. He kneeled down, stretched himself under the car and pulled the head out. He came out dirty all over but he did not seem to care even though he was such an elegant man, always smart, prim and properly dressed. All he seemed to care about was the smile on my face.

My mother was not with us at the time and I never told her the story… except years and years later…and therefore, she did not understand why I threw a crying fit when I came back from school one day to find that she had taken that same teddy bear, along with a bunch of other books and toys, and sent them off to a refugee camp in Beirut during their Civil War. She tried to explain to me that I had the other teddy bear and that it was in a better shape but I could not forgive her for a few days after that.

After my Sido decided to watch over us from a different realm, I went through a terrible phase. My mother had a very hard time dealing with me and trying to understand me. I blamed her for so much… accused her of doing things Sido would not have approved of if he were still with us. I was horrible to her. I was selfish; only thinking about how I felt at that time, not caring about how she felt about losing her dearest and only father.

You see, I never got over the fact that I would have to live the rest of my life and grow up without my role model by my side. But my relationship with my mother started to get better the year after I decided to attend the same university he, both my paternal grandparents and my father had graduated from. I felt that I had some kind of spiritual connection with him; that I had walked the same path he had walked; I even had lectures in the same buildings as he did… I felt he was watching over me while I was there.

My Sido had touched many lives to the extent that he is ALWAYS remembered with love and fondness. He was and still is my role model because of his open-mindedness,  accepting and modest nature, even though I have to add my mom & dad to the list now. My heart goes out to his life time companion on the 1st of October of every year. I keep reminding myself that if it was and still is so hard for me to hold back a tear when thinking of him, I cannot imagine how hard it must be for my sweetest Tata (my grandmother) and my gem of a mother.

I miss you Sido!


Jan said...

What a blessing to have such a role model. Thank you for sharing Sido with us. x

Tabouleh said...

What a sweet thing to say.... thank you Jan!

Birdie said...

OK, I have said this before but every day your stories bless me. You are one of bloggers I wish I could meet in person and just grab a hold of you and your beautiful spirit. Thanks for telling us about this exceptional man.

Tabouleh said...

Birdie... you cannot imagine how touching your words are to me... how precious and fulfilling... I LOVE reading your blog and your comments on my entries... THANK YOU for following me... THANK YOU for coming into my life and blessing me. I would LOVE to meet you... You enver know my dearest this is a small world after all.

Judy Croome said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Sido. I don't think we can ever fill the hole that a physical death leaves in our lives, but - as I know from my Ouma (grandmother) - the ancestral spirits are always with us to guide and protect us.

I wandered over to your blog from Birdie's blog and I'm so glad I did. I can see I'm going to have to come back and browse your archives, because there are so many topics that interest me!
Judy, South Africa

Tabouleh said...

Hi Judy... thank you for your warm email... I am so glad that you wandered here as now I have a chance to read your interesting entries as well.. So thank you for adding my blog to your list. I love South Africa and find its people inspiring!

paula devi said...

Your Sido's face shines out his kindness but also his years of so much trauma living through the sorrow and grief of having to leave his home. I see his eyes and how they must have lit up his whole face as he looked at his precious grandaughter.
How blessed you are to have had such a special bond with his heart and soul.
Of course he's watching over you.

Tabouleh said...

My dearest Paula, you always have a way with words... thank you for you sweet warm words... what I loved about him was that he was never bitter about what happened to him and his family... and so the only thing he passed to me was his love... I was lucky to have such a bond with him and only feel sad that my sister is the only granddaughter who did not get a chance to meet him.
Thank you for assuring me he is watching over me... I used to dream about him until a few years before I graduated... he used to always say something or give me something... not sure what that means though.