On this Father’s Day, I am going to write about a special person who played the role of a father figure when my own father was drifting away from my life exactly five years ago.
It was 2009, and I was visiting New York to care for my father, who was diagnosed with a very severe cancer, acute lukemia. I made daily runs to the hospital, taking almost two hours each way on the subway. The period was marked by initial optimism, which turned into frustration, angst, despair and then a gradual loss of hope. Some days, not only did my dad have to fight for his life, but I also had to fight the hospital staff for proper treatment. At several junctions my father almost lost his life to incompetent medical doctors and students.
Needless to say, being the primary caretaker, my stress level went off the roof! Luckily I was able to sneak some time to attend ballet classes with the famous master teacher Finis Jhung at Alvin Ailey’s. Every time I went to class, it was like a refuge. A sacred time to empty my mind off the thoughts of the daily chores at the hospital. A time to enjoy music and movement and to learn something new.
Unknowingly, I became dependent on Finis’ classes to take me off the drudgery—not only of caretaking but the inevitable fate of my father’s passing. It was like a drug for me, literally, but a good drug! And Finis, being a few years younger than my dad, was like a father figure to me. I marveled at his flexibility, his energy and his passion for teaching. He represented everything that was the opposite of my dying father.
So on this Father’s Day, which marks the 5th anniversary of my dad’s return to the Realm of Bliss, I want to remember not just my own father but to give a special thanks to Finis Jhung, who provided a refuge for me during one of the toughest periods of my life.
Thank you, Finis!