My father has had the (un)enviable opportunity of single-handedly raising two daughters through and out of their teenage years. When mum passed on, I was barely fourteen. We had been very close and the last days we shared together must have been the most painful yet intimate moments I remember. I vividly recall that day when she got into the car and went to hospital, the same day I would get admitted into Precious Blood Secondary School and the very same day that would be the last I saw her alive. It was also this very day that dad began to play both roles of mother and father in my life. I had done all my shopping with him; from the school uniform to the toiletries. I had been very close to mum because as I believe, I take after her in many aspects: both in physical and non-physical ways. When mum left, we had to cultivate a relationship with dad. Though as a child we had been very close, the relationship had changed as I slowly became a young woman, as it is expected in many African homes; yet here I was with only him to talk to. I was scared as I had the fear every girl has when their mum passes on; that mum would be replaced.
My father is a calm and collected man. He is slow to anger. He has this mysterious walk whose pace you would dismiss as slow when you see, but turns out to be fast when you walk with him. Young men in our neighbourhood seldom dare to set foot in our compound; one look from him and you will not dare look at his daughters. He is a reader, a hobby we must have all learnt and picked up from him. He has a strong will, a genuine concern and indomitable faith and love. I cannot count the number of times he has actually said he loves us. Dad is that man who believed he could take us through reputable private primary school education when all other kids in the neighbourhood and cousins went to public schools. He wouldn’t even budge when mum almost gave in to the pressure of getting us into good public schools. He is the man who believes in us so much, he would give anything to see us have a good life. My father is also the man who never missed our visiting days and kept time like a German. Dad is that one man who makes breakfast when he has daugters in the house and still makes supper when we are running late to get home. He is the man with a great laugh, similar to that of my small brother; it is a priceless scene to see them laugh together. He has been a great influence in moulding us into the ladies we have turned out to be. I still remember that song he would sing to us in the evening before 9pm as we went to bed. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes someone healthy and wealthy and wise.” I know a dad that knows the value of work, a dad whose aging mother continues to praise as being respectful and humble.
So, you ask how it has been growing up without a mother?
I have seen her continue to live vicariously through daddy. As his hair grays, with little attempts to continue dyeing it nowadays; as his perfect dental formula continues to remain intact(I don’t recall him ever having a toothache); and as he continues to grow day by day in His walk with the Lord; I remain one proud daughter, with toes that take after his. We remain the children that will still call him daddy, even when his grand children are here.
Happy father’s day to: daddy, all men who take time to be good and present fathers, aspiring fathers and expectant fathers. Happy fathers’ day to the future father of my dad’s grandchildren; the pace is set, the secret is out; he’ll be the man walking me to you down the aisle.