An Ode to my Father
Caveat – this is one of the most personal posts I have ever written, so kindly bear with me.
I know that you aren’t there anymore, at least not in the way that I would like. I really miss you. I miss talking to you, laughing with you and just spending time with you. You never appreciate what you have until you lose it. I look at my little one every day, and every second I see her and her Daddy have their moments, it brings tears of joy to my heart because I know she will be Daddy’s little girl. I wouldn’t say I was Daddy little girl but I was my Father’s Daughter.
I recall those moments we would sit for hours discussing politics and current affairs and I would see the light in your eyes. Nothing would get you has hyped and excited as discussing and dissecting the state of our Country’s affairs. Or our weekly Sunday family meetings, where you intentionally make us discuss issues affecting each and every one of us over and over and over. You would laugh and make statements like ‘you can’t take something from nothing’ or ‘love your neighbours like yourself but not more than yourself’ and we would all roll our eyes and exclaim ‘Oh Daddy!’ I would give anything to have another one of those moments with you again.
I can count on one hand the number of times any one of my Brothers and Sisters were so gravely ill that we had to go to the Hospital. And even if we had to, you were always the person who took us. One of my early memories was me I think having malaria at 7 or 8 years of age and you took me to Dr Tejusho’s clinic in Ilupeju to get treatment and to me it was just an outing with Daddy. I wasn’t sacred because I knew I would be fine. The very first appointment at the Optometrist at Metro eyes Lapal House Lagos Island, was with you and I was so excited that I would get to wear glasses like my Big sis , Damola and of course you. I recall before my 21st birthday party, I came down with Typhoid fever (although we didn’t know that then); you took me to Dr Smith’s clinic in Surulere. It was a Monday and the House of Assembly were sitting, but you took your Daughter to the clinic. Mommy or the Driver could have taken me but you chose to do so yourself. At the time, I was more concerned with getting better so I could still have my party while lustfully eyeing the yummy looking Doctor, looking back now those little moments with you seem so precious because you were present in every sense of the word, actually present.
Looking back now, I don’t think you ever denied us anything if you could help it. Yes times were strained at a point but you still made sure to engage with us at some level. Fine, we may not have had summer holidays abroad as often as we would like, or new toys or clothes, but I remember you saying several times how much you wanted all your kids to be educated and well established so we wouldn’t be dependent on anyone. And that’s another thing, you made it a priority for all us (my brothers and sisters) to have the same things, the same experiences (for the most part). We all went to the same schools, if one person had a new item; the rest of us would have the same thing. I can say that you made sure that there was some sense of collectiveness in all of us. Some of the kudus go to our Moms but you were the common factor in all of this, we see ourselves as a unit. You would be very proud of what each and every one has accomplished individually. Each of us has a piece or pieces of you in us, obviously you are our Daddy.
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t all rainbows and candy. There were hard moments those times weren’t ideal, I was angry with you for some time. Angry that I didn’t have what I saw as the perfect Dad, compared to my friends or cousins. Angry that you seemed more occupied with other things; politics included than the welfare of your kids in some regards. Angry that you made my Mom so upset and sad that she would share with us and even angrier when you started exhibiting symptoms of what we would come to realize as Alzheimer’s and I being the impatient one at times or selfish would snap occasionally and for that I ask you and the Almighty to forgive me.
I don’t mean this post to be a post all about memories but they stick out to me. Like when we both sat on the dining table as I helped you draft your speech for your presentation at the state house of Assembly on your call for the nation to have a Sovereign National Congress, or our long walks in Barking to your friend’s house or to the local GP to get checked. Even that time after I finished secondary school and I would accompany you to Oshodi-isolo Alliance for Democracy meetings and those Saturday’s outings to Eko Club with the whole gang ( Damola, Bisola, Molara, Ladi, Gboyewa, Deji and I. Bolu and Mayowa were not been born yet or where still babies)
I was always in awe of how your friends would regard you; ‘Gboyus’ or ‘Baba Awon Omo e! ‘; at those Abok 56 and Eko Club meetings. The image of all your friends surrounding you when you turned 50 and 70 as you cut your cake can only be described as Magical. Wow! To me 7 at the time you turned 50, it seemed so grand and overwhelming. We all wore our “World’s Greatest Daddy” t shirts without fully understanding what it meant, but I do now. I’m sure I speak for every one of us when I say we would gladly adorn those t shirts now in a heartbeat.
Even though you are still with us in the physical sense, I believe that your true self is gone, to sometimes reappear once in a while. Like when I got so upset while I was planning my wedding and you calmed me down with your reassuring voice or when you walked me into the Mosque during my Nikkai. I wish Dotun could have met you, the real you; the real Gboyega Oshodi, boy that would have been a sight. I wish Samina could hang out with you and play with you the way Tamilore, Olumide, Feyi, Olamide and Jade had the pleasure to. You would tease them and play with them and for Feyi you would actually dance Konko Below with her, men they all surely had the perfect Grandpa relationship.
Having my own child has made me realize certain things, you were the product of your environment, and you did the best that you could. We learn from our parents and I have surely learnt a lot from you. I want Samina to have a better relationship than we had, I want her to be able to call her Dad and tell him everything and anything. Someone once said, if we know better we do better and I’m sure if you could do it over again, you would and I don’t fault you for that.
While you’re still physically with us, I want you to know that I love you beyond words. I am so proud of you and I hope you are proud of all of us, you set a high standard which we are all striving to achieve each day. God Bless you Daddy.
* To all my Brothers and Sisters reading this please doesn’t be sad, let us use this time to celebrate our Father and pray that Almighty God continues to bless him. He has had a good life and we must be proud. Thank you.
According to alz.org, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds in the US.