In honor of Father's Day this Sunday, Tell Me More has been celebrating dads all week with essays by some of our contributors and guests who are dads in conventional and unconventional ways.
Today's guest: Faramarz Meshkinpour, a trained engineer who made America his home when his children were very young.
Faramarz Meshkinpour and his daughter Sanaz Meshkinpour
In 1987, I immigrated to the United States with my wife and my two young daughters. At that time, I felt like I was traveling into a dark tunnel with no money and no idea what the future would hold.
In Iran, I was an engineer with a master's degree, but I didn't have confidence in myself. In the U.S., I had to somehow motivate myself to make a life for my family — despite the pain and the fear.
I thought of myself as the captain of a ship. And it was my duty to lead my family to safety — to not let the ship sink.
To work as an engineer here, I needed to go back to school. But in order to feed my family, I needed a job right away. I started working at El Pollo Loco — a fast food restaurant — for three dollars and twenty five cents an hour. For the next 10 years I worked without taking any weekends off or any vacations, sometimes working two shifts a day.
I remember when my father-in-law came to visit us from Iran. I had started a plumbing business out of our garage. One day he rode with me to a job. He sat in the truck, while I put on my overalls and crawled under a house to fix something. Hours later, when I crawled back out, dirt all over my body, he looked at me and he started to cry.
Faramarz Meshkinpour and his daughters.
Faramarz Meshkinpour and his daughters. Faramarz Meshkinpour
Now, more than 20 years later, I wish my father-in-law were alive to see how things have changed. I have two beautiful grown daughters. They have both graduated from the best colleges in this country, and I'm so proud of them. I'm still running my plumbing business but thankfully, there's no more dirty work, no more work on weekends. My wife drives a luxury car and has more leisure time to garden and watch tennis on TV.
I'm happiest when my wife and my two daughters are around me. I still feel like I'm steering a ship, but we have reached a much safer place.