Today, April 7, 2015 marks a milestone in my life. On this day I mark HALF A CENTURY of life. Patiently, I have been waiting for this day to come. My wait was not in anticipation of the inauguration into the Elders’ Club. No. I was looking forward for the usual early morning birthday call from my Daddy, of which I know would be a SPECIAL one.
Every April 7, since my sojourn in the United Kingdom, the first telephone call to rouse me out of bed was usually from my Dad. He never believed sending text messages was an alternative to phone calls. So every year, religiously he called to wish me Happy Birthday. After the felicitation, he asked “how old are you now, Jide?”
In his characteristic hearty laughter would say “you are no longer a kid.” We both laugh out loudly. After which he would pray for another blessed year ahead for me. But unknowingly to him, his words and prayers set me up for another year. After his call, I usually meditate and conclude: “Thank you Lord for making Daddy the vessel through which I am in this world.” I do not know what other fathers do, because I have been so blessed to have only him in my life, but I know no father could rival his dedication and commitment to me, my siblings and hundreds he cared for.
I called him in phone at every opportunity. So I rang him on April 1, 2015, to ask after his health and also do a bit of “small talks” with him. I always enjoy the small talks with him. Though on this day, he sounded “laboured” but I never gave any thoughts that he might not be around to fatherly declare me a man TODAY, 7th April.
We spoke again the following day, April 2nd, 2015. Obviously strength was not in abundance for him anymore. He seemed to be aware his time was up but felt he needed to hang on further for something. I could “practically” feel him. With all modesty, and knowing my father, his wish would be to hang on a little further to wish me VERY SPECIAL BIRTHDAY today, Bunmi in June, Lola and Yemi in September. And also his grandchildren.
He did try to push it further, but on April 4, 2015, he was called to glory.
My dear Daddy, I officially became a man today. Many thanks to you for fathering me to this age. I am proud of you in all aspect of life. You raised me up like no other father would have. You were a disciplined father and you were not shy to “drum” this into us your children and others who came your way.
The first lesson I learnt from you was “Remember the son of whom you are.” You believed so much in good name than riches of the world. You thought us to live to uphold the name of the family at whatever cost, or any temptation. You lived by example and not just words. You avoided situations that could cast doubt on your character or integrity. Many people who had interacted with you will attest to the fact that you never “mix” other peoples’ money or properties with yours. Rather you will abandon for them.
You always held my hands, to cross bridges. Many times I had disappointed you. And as many of these times that I disappointed you, you always picked me up, dusted me, cleaned me and set me up again. Just like the prodigal son in the bible.
Nobody ever believed in me like you did. I remember the late night and early morning talks you usually had with me while growing up. All you did at these sessions was use your experience to teach me life lessons. You never for once referred to any super hero that came to save the day for you as you grew up. Because there was NONE.
I will always love you. You sacrificed so many things for me and my siblings. Many opportunities you gave up because we were your priority. I remember how you ended your studies at M.Phil level at University of Ife just because of us. You could not afford to stay away from us further after the demise of our mother. Many overseas scholarships you turned down to be with us.
For all these, you never felt any regret.
Daddy, I “became” a man today. And I missed your call this morning, but I know you have said your prayers for me for a blessed year ahead. Thank you Daddy. You are my hero. I will not disappoint you.