I grew up reading Gibran Khalil Gibran and studying Antoun Saadeh – two extraordinary people who made me who I am and help form my character. Their greatness inspired me all my life although, with all modesty, I cannot be a fraction of what they were.
It is at times like this where I remember them most! Our nation needs great thinker such as Gibran, Saadeh and others. Saadeh, was KILLED because of his dream, aspirations, knowledge, and his ability to transform knowledge into workable action. As a young man, he was already an activist, learning languages, teaching, writing, speaking, and inspiring people from all religions, sects, gender and social class to believe in the greatness of our nation. For some political “leaders”, he was a dangerous man; this is why they conspired against him and killed him in 1949. Today, with sectarian fighting and the destruction of the nation from Iraq, to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine was already lost. It is a time like this when we need them.
This post is not about Gibran or Saadeh but about two other man that inspired me as well, although not to the level of Saadeh. They are Ahmad and Georges, and I will use their first names here – it is my way of honoring them.
Ahmad is my father, who passed away 7 years ago and had written a tribute to him a while back. Three days ago, we lost Georges, my father-in-law. The sad part is Ahmad, and Georges never met in real life! Ahmad was in Lebanon, and Georges had immigrated to the USA in 1977 and never returned to Lebanon. We hope they will meet upstairsJ.
Each of them grew in a different environment – Ahmad in Tripoli and later Al-Koura in Lebanon and Georges between Al Qaroun and Beirut before immigrating to Texas in the USA – what they share is the ideology of Antoun Saadeh. Ahmad raised me on this ideology and Georges raised my wife on the same beliefs.
Since I wrote about Ahmad before – I will write about Georges a bit more today then I bring them together.
Georges was not a man of financial means; he was doing OK in Lebanon before having to immigrate. He had to work numerous jobs to provide for his four daughters, my wife is the youngest. When they moved to Houston, I was a student there. Although he barely knew my friends and me, he felt with us – having to work and study in a foreign country. He used to work in a Pizza place during daytime, and deliver papers at night. In the Pizza – any leftover they would have to throw away – he will collect them and give them to us. We used to freeze them and enjoy them when we are working late or crashing for exams.
He worked hard, and I have never heard him complain. Even until recently, he was still working, and if he is not – he will be working in the garden at midday, and for those that know Houston, it is a torture to be outside at noon in the summer – yet every day he will go out, taking care of his garden, fig trees, vegetables. We used to eat Mulkhieyh from the garden and other things.
On his life – he distributed what little money he has to his daughters. He wanted to arrange his own funeral when he was healthy, in order for family members not to worry about that.
When Nabila and the boys went to Houston this summer, I felt guilty that I could not go. They have not been there in 4 years; it is like he was waiting for them. A month into their trip he had a stroke, and they almost lost him. When he was in intensive care – and not able to talk – I was on Skype with Nabila (she was in the hospital with him) and with Oxygen mask on his face he insisted on talking with me. Although he was in intensive care, he was asking me about my sister and my nephew wedding. He had not talked since his stroke, yet the first words out of his mouth were caring about others.
He came out of the stroke, and it and was later moved to a rehab center so Nabila and the boys came back to Lebanon and less than 4 weeks since their return, we lost him.
We love you Georges.
Now what about Ahmad and Georges?
As a believer in Saadeh’s ideology and having lived through the civil war in Lebanon, I decided not to give my children religious names and Ahmad and Georges were perfectly OK with that. You know, our tradition is to name our kids after our parents – I am named after my grandfather, so it is expected that I will give my dad’s name to my firstborn. I was hoping that my firstborn – will be twin boys – that was the only condition to give my children religious names – they were going to be Ahmad and Georges. That would have been the message that Nabila and I want to give the world, to honor our parents and to honor the great man that inspired them and us.
We did not have twins but a beautify boy – so we named him Sumer after the Sumerian great civilization. Then another boy – so we had to use another notable name and here we had Akkad from Akkadians!
Nabila and I wanted to let the world know that Ahmad and Georges can be twin brothers – may be – we hope that would have inspired the people around them.
We lost that dream – but the idea never escaped me and I did materialize it in my first book. Although my first book was about Project Management but I wrote as a story with four lead characters, and two of them were twin brothers – Ahmad and Georges.
Ahmad and Georges – we honor you today and we hope that we have become something you would be proud of
We love you!