This is my sweet Daddy. He was born to a large family in Lebanon. After graduating high school, he legged it around Europe for a few years wearing a suit that was a little too small for him, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
Legend has it that he originally thought he'd be a doctor, but he couldn't stand the sight of blood. Instead, he applied and was accepted into the civil engineering program at Mississippi State University. His older brothers stayed home in Lebanon, worked, and sent him the money he needed to fund his education. When he got to MSU, he excelled in his engineering and math classes, but he was failing English. (He spoke Arabic and French fluently, he had a gift for people, and he was a handsome, dark-complected young man. Frankly, you can't have everything.) So, a young Mississippi girl became his English tutor. Her name was Margaret. They fell in love.
Daddy had fun at college. Starkville was dry, so Daddy volunteered to go for booze runs for his friends. If he was ever pulled over, he pretended he was a foreigner who spoke no English and had no idea about U.S. law. They usually let him go with a warning (and his libations), so Dad became very popular on campus.
When Dad graduated, he asked Margaret to marry him and return to Lebanon with him. She refused. He returned home. But he got to missing her. In the end, he agreed to come to the United States if she'd marry him. He did, and she did. Then, he took a job at the Mississippi Department of Transportation, where he'd spend his career.
During the next 45 years, he helped my sweet Pawpaw, a carpenter, build the pretty two-story house in Clinton, Mississippi, where we'd all live; put a big garden in the back yard (still known as the "Saad Farm"); and raised three girls who are now all productive, tax-paying citizens. He eventually applied for and earned U.S. citizenship.
He designed bridges and roads. He became a favorite when MDOT needed a civil engineer to testify for eminent domain proceedings, because he had a unique way of explaining things, and juries responded well to him.
When he retired from MDOT, decades later, there wasn't room for all the cars of the people who wanted to visit with him. The vehicles filled the lot and parked on the sides of nearby roads. When my sweet Daddy made a speech about the relationships he'd built at MDOT and what a wonderful country America is, more than one good ol' boy in the crowd wiped tears from his eyes.
Now, he spends his time hanging out with his grandsons, traveling, and occasionally consulting. I asked him once, and he says he dreams in English now, not Arabic. People still love him, and he still exhibits a sense of adventure and curiosity about the world that I admire. He rarely talks about himself, he's always ready to laugh, and (if I do say so myself) he's still pretty damn good looking.
Happy Father's Day to Daddy, the first person who showed me how a man should love me. I'm proud to be your girl!