During his time in Abadan, Kazem and his family live in a nice house, and the NIOC takes care of most of their financial needs. When Kazem and his family move to California, however, their financial status changes—they have to pay for their own food, entertainment, and plumbing. As a result, Kazem learns to do things himself—the only problem is that he’s not very good at any of the tasks he teaches himself. As a result, Firoozeh grows up learning to expect that nothing in her house works properly.
The book concludes with an affectionate portrait of Kazem. At first, Firoozeh emphasizes Kazem’s minor flaws—for example, his tendency to think that he can fix anything, and that he doesn’t need to hire a professional repairman. From an early age Firoozeh and Kazem’s roles are reversed—she’s like a mature grown-up, while Kazem is like an overeager child who thinks he can do everything.
Once, Kazem goes to visit his son Farshid, who’s living in a high-rise apartment at the time. While Farshid is at work, Kazem does his son a “favor”—he buys white paint from the store and paints over all the “cracks” in the walls in Farshid’s apartment. The problem is that Kazem uses a different color of white, and the walls of Farshid’s apartment now look as if they’ve been covered in strange blotches. On another occasion, Kazem decides that François and Firoozeh need a medicine cabinet in their bathroom, and builds it himself. Kazem installs a medicine cabinet that hangs crookedly from the wall. Now, whenever Kazem visits, François hides the screwdrivers.
Firoozeh continues to poke fun at her father, repeating stories of how he ruined other people’s things in the process of trying to repair them. François, much like Firoozeh, learns to humor Kazem but also treat him like a child in certain aspects of life.
When Kazem goes back to Iran, he’s a millionaire—the country’s currency has become so weak since the Iranian Revolution that Kazem can live like a king whenever he returns from America. He’s also extremely generous with his money—he donates his monthly pension from NIOC to the poor, and pays for many people’s surgeries and operations. Kazem’s arrival is always a major event in Abadan, and he’s one of the most popular people in town. Kazem likes to tell Firoozeh, “I’m a rich man in America, too. I just don’t have a lot of money.”
In spite of Firoozeh’s ribbing of her father, it’s obvious that she loves him deeply. Kazem is an extraordinarily generous and hardworking man, who’s forged a successful life in America without sacrificing one iota of love for his family. Kazem may not have become a millionaire in America, but he’s “rich” in the sense that he’s surrounded by people who love him—his family and his friends—and has a daughter who loves and respects him.