In the middle of a very busy day, at a wildly toxic workplace I was involved with while studying for an undergraduate degree, my phone rang. It was my sister. She was calling to let me know that our dad has passed. She delivered the news in an unusually low and hoarse voice. And may have been crying at the other end.
“How did it happen?” I wanted to know.
“He was talking to me about his life and everything. Then said I should stop ignoring who was calling me. He said I could take a minute to answer the phone. I came back and he was gone.” She recounted.
I took a minute to think of an appropriate response, but everything sounded awkward.
When my sister traveled a week earlier to go and be by his sick-bed, it hadn’t crossed any of our minds that we were about to lose our remaining parent. We were all too busy being angry with him for not doing as much as he could have done to give us a better foundation.
We were terribly upset about how he had lived his life and how his choices had impacted us and our mother. My mother passed two years earlier and we were still grieving how sad her life was, while trying to figure out what direction to steer our lives. It felt humiliating, that we had a big surname but our lives were in so much disarray and we could barely feed.
I was working to pay my way through school. My other siblings were working through different challenges, trying to create a better life for themselves. None of us had the time to slow down to feel love or sympathy toward our sick dad. We had all become numb from years and years of mental and emotional stress.
As she continued to speak of his passing, I listened to my emotions to identify how I was feeling and realized that though there was an acknowledgement of his passing, my heart was not feeling the heaviness it felt when I received news of my mom’s death.
At the moment, I had no feeling to give a name to. I was unfeeling at the burial procession and was unfeeling at the tenth year anniversary, until a little over a month ago, when my dam broke right in the middle of helping my daughter with her school work.
When I was a little girl, my dad used to spend a good number of hours everyday, taking us through different subjects, especially Math. and English. I still have memory of him teaching us how to pronounce words, walking us through idioms and proverbs, and telling us enthralling stories deep into the night.
As we grew older, there were a lot of times when he wasn’t there and a lot of times when he was angry or drunk. But there were also a lot of times when he was quiet, mostly in his office studying or praying.
So while I helped my daughter with her school work, that day, feeling bouts of frustration from her pace and my own personal issues, I remembered the things my father told us about his work. I remembered the things and the people he had to fight. I remembered the things my sister told me he said on his deathbed, and finally understood that my father was just a good man who made mistakes. So, as we continue to celebrate fathers, this week, I handpicked these as what I would have given him, if he was here.
1. Tuxedo Sets By Atafo
My father’s work required a lot of formal wear. But at the peak of his challenging times, I remember, he had just one pair of suit to wear to all his engagements. Therefore, giving him sets of tuxedo would have made him happy and I choose Atafo because of its image of prestige.
2. Agbada By Ugo Monye
As it concerns my father, what I regret the most is that I did not get to honour him in any way and in anything. I would have loved to dress him up in an Agbada, which generally is a representation of eminence. I choose Ugo Monye because of the brand’s uncommon and masterly designs.
3. Shoes By Church’s And Crockett & Jones
An opportunity to give my father pairs of befitting shoes will be very satisfying, because buying shoes for himself was always the last on the list, as a result, he did not have any good pair. Church’s and Crockett and Jones were easy finds and I liked their designs.
4. 212 VIP By Carolina Herrera
Throughout my father’s lifetime, I remember him with the same fragrance. I never saw what the product looked like, but it smelled mild and manly. I decided to get him a 212 VIP because, I remember, he loved 212.
5. A Wristwatch By Bvlgari
I choose this wristwatch by Bvlgari because of its promise of durability. My father had a lot of watches but none of them could tell the time.
6. A Hamper Of Alcoholic Drinks
My father loved his bottles and I hated him for it. But looking back now, I understand that his week-long alcohol binges were pure celebrations. All he did was drink, host visitors and sleep after that, to continue the next day. I choose seven bottles from the seven brands he loved.