It’s not just his good looks that make my dad amazing though. To me, he is a fighter with unwavering commitment to his principles

I often read these fascinating stories of people overcoming unimaginable obstacles, making it through insurmountable physical and emotional pain or defeating the unthinkable. One such story that hit close to home (quite literally, too) was a New York Times feature about an Iraqi man’s incredible journey of crossing the border to escape the cruelty of ISIS. The reason his story was particularly touching was because all this man could think of in the face of unbearable fear, was the voice of his daughter.

One thing I learned growing older is that no one has it easy. Undoubtedly, everyone has their struggles. It’s just that some have it harder than others and yet have the extraordinary ability to make life beautiful for the people around them.

Whenever I paint a picture of a man from the Middle East in my head, I immediately see my dad. Not because he typifies any of the portraits depicted in the movies, but I guess because his origins are from eastern Turkey. He’s tall and strikingly handsome with silver hair, emerald eyes and tanned skin which I’m known to ask if he got while spending time in the hot and dry eastern Anatolian sun.

It’s not just his good looks that make my dad amazing though. To me, he is a fighter with unwavering commitment to his principles — principles which include being kind, loving and caring to all creatures big or small, putting dignity and honesty before all else and believing in the guidance of truth. Unlike a majority of girls in Turkey and more so deeper in the Middle East, both my sister and I were lucky enough to be raised as independent and educated women thanks to my dad sticking to and teaching us these principles.

Now that I think about it, he never had it easy. As the son of a stern math teacher and a gentle homemaker, his upbringing was far from the privileged one he provided for his daughters. He often tells me he had little choice but to be successful, get good grades and graduate at the top from the best medical school in Turkey. Establishing himself as the country’s and perhaps the world’s most renowned surgeons, his patients have told me they have yet to see another doctor as compassionate, as engaged and as willing to go that extra bit to make life more live-able.

To me, he is all that and more. He will always be that same man with a mustache and a belly who held me (the kid who cried to much) in his arms. Though both the mustache and the belly are long gone despite my objections, my love for him grows stronger each day. I know heroes are hard to come by. Many people search a lifetime to find theirs. And just like Ali Hussein Kadhim’s daughter in Iraq, I was lucky enough to get mine at birth.

My dad is a man who has had my back through the good and the bad, who has been proud of even the smallest of my accomplishments, who has granted me my every wish and who has given me everything he never had. The selfless and humble man that is my dad, the wondrous gem of a man called Ali.