Dad would have turned 79 years on Sunday. I was trying to imagine what he would have been like now and how our relationship would have grown. I didn’t normally think about it that much, but I know, it sounds like a broken record now, but Mum’s absence just opened up more wounds I thought had healed. I miss Dad more than I did. He passed when I was 18 years old. So Mum became both Mum and Dad. I realized I wrote several posts about my Mum even before her demise, but never actually wrote posts about my Dad. I talk more about him than I write about him.
I figure as we celebrate his 79th birthday, I might as well look back and share some of the most important lessons I learnt from my Dad.
My Dad always stepped up to lead in any and all occasions. I guess it was wired in him as a firstborn, but also circumstances pushed him to take up his father’s role at 20 years old. My grandfather died and my Dad had 9 siblings who needed an education and mouths to feed. He had to step up and care for everyone. And that he did well. My Aunts and late uncles all had careers of their own thanks to my father’s selflessness.
My Dad always stepped up when there was a gap in a family function or at a funeral or wedding. He was always the chairperson of the committee, whatever committee it was. He ensured work was done and the event or project was a success and always made everyone feel like they were part of it. He was never one to shy away from responsibility and leading people.
A lending hand
My Dad was dedicated to helping others. If someone needed help with school fees, a job, or needed mediation in a familial matter he was always there. People always came to him when they had problems or just needed counsel. He was the one cousins and aunts, uncles and grandparents turned to for help. He was always there to help people, at times to the detriment of a weekend break or his pocket. He was very Mother Teresa -like in his giving.
Dress to the nines
My cousins a few months ago were reminiscing about how my Dad used to dress. My Dad was that guy, always had French cologne, fresh breath, killer smile and always bought Italian suits. He always stepped out of the house looking impeccable. He would run inspections of all of us, before we entered the car, to ensure we all looked sharp for school. My eyebrows are in great condition because my Dad would press them down super firmly on my face and iron them out with his fingers. My cousins summed it up well, my Dad always looked like he emerged from a GQ magazine. He was really big on looking great. Cousins used to imitate how he dressed sometimes.
See the best in people
My Dad was a brilliant man but at times I even question the kind of people he had as friends. He was quick to trust and see the best in people, even the ones who didn’t deserve it. People took advantage of his kind-hearted nature. At times I wish away some of the squirts who took advantage of him. But I see for him it was never about “what can I get out of you”. It was more about seeing how great people were after hanging out with them for a while then probably working with them or better still inspiring their greatness.
- Gifting is a language of love
I never hugged my Dad once. But I know without a doubt in the world. He loved me to bits. Because my Dad spoiled me, spoiled us all with gifts. And it wasn’t just us as his kids and my Mum, my cousins, Aunts and Uncles he spoiled people sometimes with extremely extravagant gifts. It was how he showed his love. And my father loved deeply.
- Respect all People
My Dad took me all over, to my Mum’s chagrin, because as my Mum always pointed, he did spoil me. Dad never said ‘no’ to me that often. We met people of all walks of life and socio-economic groupings never once did he show disrespect or disdain for anyone. I recall how he would always give a coin to anyone begging on the street, or a villager in need asking for a meal. He never made people feel indebt or less of a person because he helped them. He always showed honour, a trait both he and my mum had.
- Giving back to the community and the Church
My Dad was always a giver, one big thing he always did was invest in building our village church. He would rally up his friends from all walks of life to chip and help the village and church activities. Whether it was a new church building, a borehole or rural electrification. He did this for years, till he passed. Both him and Mum were really big on giving back to the community and church this way.
- Networker-in Chief
My Dad knew a whole lot of people. And he didn’t just know them separately. He introduced them to each other, to grow the network. This was the network he would rally to support in the good and the bad. Fundraise for the church, a wedding or at a funeral, for someone’s kid’s college tuition. The list is endless. My Dad knew how to get people together.
- King of Parties
My Dad worked hard, but he also played hard, but in style. We had so many house parties growing up. My Dad was always the guy who would bring the LPs and the fine whisky, wine and other drinks. And he would dance with my Mum. I loved how he would light up dancing with my Mum.
We, my siblings and I, we’re blessed with such amazing parents. We miss them a whole lot, but we are grateful that we were able to enjoy every last day on earth with them. We miss you, Dad and Mum!