This I Believe

Olivia - Golden, Colorado
Entered on May 7, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

A Short Life Well Lived

Have you ever wanted to run back into the house to give one more kiss goodbye to the family member you are leaving? I have. My dad died in a plane crash six years ago, and up until now its been the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn. In that experience I learned that we never know how much someone means until they are gone.

The morning of Wednesday, January 24, 2001 my father, Michael Chowdry left the breakfast table and his family for the final time. He was a man who was passionate about his family and the company he founded, Atlas Air. He had come from a difficult background in Pakistan and had had a rough childhood. In those times he learned very early on of the importance of education in order to get a job. My dad left Pakistan when he was 15 years old to come to the United States. He came with no more than 20 dollars, no family and his big brave heart.

As I grew up, my father gave me the life anyone could ever want and so much more. I had opportunities that no one child could ever dream of. In 1996, as a family, we went to New York City to open the New York stock exchange. And that bell was not rung by Michael himself, but by his son, Jimmy. My father and Jimmy were very close, closer than I was with him but not enough to bother me then…

My dad traveled all over the world with his work. One year he was gone 252 days. He always wanted me to go with him on his travels, but I was afraid of such long trips. He would say, “Come with me, just me and you, it will be great!” I don’t know why, but I never said yes. I wish I had. I regret not spending more time with him. My mom tells me not to regret those times, but I still do. She tells me “Those were big trips to go on as such a little girl”

Another time he bought a puke yellow Porsche that he came to pick me up in at school. When I first saw him in the car I didn’t immediately run up to him, in fact I practically refused going home with him. I hurt him very much and the words exchanged still ring in my head, “I will go home with mom and see you there.” Why those feelings? I regret that time. There were also times that I loved him more than I could explain and wanted to give him an extra big hug, just to tell him how much I loved him.

My dad had a short life, but he had a full life. He died at age 46. He lived everyday with his whole heart, and if I learned anything from my dad, I learned not to be selfish and to take in and cherish what you have. This I believe to be true, if you have love for a person, never hold back, and give them everything you have all of the time. The trust and everything else will fall into place, taught to me by my father, Michael Akbar Chowdry.