Father's Day Remembrances



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My first recollection of him dates back to either 1948 or 1949. I sat in his lap and tugged at his silvery grey beard; I must have been three or three and-a-half years old. His sparkling deep blue eyes (credit Crusader blood from eons back) and gentle voice provided me with the genuine assurance and affection that only a father lavishes on his children. And there were four others besides me; I had to share him with a sister and three other brothers. He was very generous with his love, and he found enough time to love his five children, his wife, his widowed sister, his sisters-in-law and their children, the widows, the elderly, and the bedridden in the West Jerusalem, Palestine community post the 1948 Naqba.

Even though he is not my biological father, Naim Halabi was, and continued to be, until his death, the only father that I have ever known. During a 1990 trip to San Mateo, CA, he and his wife, both of whom were almost ninety years of age at the time, gifted me the following mementos: books, two beautiful oil paintings, a variety of brick bracks, his walking stick, and a Bible whose cover is encrusted with mother of pearl inlay, a 1930’s product of a Bethlehem, Palestine craftsman. An old suitcase was reluctantly offered; its purpose, I was told, was to help me carry these items back home to Arkadelphia, AR.

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