Any time I read or watch stories about abusive fathers or men, I cannot help but appreciate the father I had. Shortly after Dad’s untimely passing, I recall a friend trying to comfort me. She told me she had always admired my Dad and that she could not recall her Dad ever buying her anything. Tears welled up in my eyes. What? Not even an ordinary pencil? Dad did most of our shopping. He picked our perfect sizes. He picked clothes and shoes for my siblings and I so well that Mum could not help feeling jealous. She would always tease Dad about his love for us. I did not even realise how much Dad pampered us until I began to court my fiancé. One day, my fiancé asked me for my shoe size and went ahead to pick shoes that were too tight for me. That was because I had guessed my size. Dad always bought things like that for us.
Now, before you begin to think that I must be a spoilt brat, I must let you know that my parents were disciplinarians. They never got tired of teaching and correcting us although they smothered us with love. So, although it is neither his post-humous birthday, wedding anniversary, nor the anniversary of his passing or funeral, I celebrate Dad as our hero every day as my siblings and I remember Dad all the time. I remember my Dad for a countless number of reasons from which I would mention a few randomly. A heroic father leaves great memories and not a sour taste in the mouth when mentioned:
A Hero Instills Confidence
I owe the innate confidence and boldness I have today to my Dad. Although it waned over the years due to cultural and religious expectations, it is obvious that even though the seed he planted withers sometimes, it always regenerated with time. In my high school days, I recall I used to be noticeably quiet. I was shy and physically small. Of course, this made a few of my classmates to take advantage of me by bullying me. It was Dad that instilled the confidence in me that there was a giant within me and that I must always own my voice. Hence today, I love and accept myself more often. I usually would not need someone’s endorsement to be me. His laurel was not only in the payment of school fees but in invaluable virtues.
A Hero Loves His Children
It was my Dad that made me understand the love of God. He only went to church occasionally. However, he beat many other religious bigots to the act of love and empathy. I understand the concept of God being our loving heavenly father because of what my father was to me. Dad never abused his girls in any way, never ever. And of course, he was enormously proud of us all. I was his first fruit and look every inch like him. He would proudly show me off to guests by saying "Meet my Number 1". Oh! That instilled in me a lot of self-worth and I never wanted to disappoint him. Daddy had a uniquely special relationship with each of my siblings. None of us felt more loved than the other. Never was there anything like sibling rivalry among us because he gave his all for us equally.
A Hero Takes Care of His Home
Dad was the caretaker of the home. I remember his personal shears. He loved a beautiful environment and ensured that all the flowers, which he and Mum knew by name, were well-trimmed. He also made sure that the doors were locked every night, aside from being the home's "Mr. Fix-It", a jack-of-all-trades, master of all. My brothers became his apprentices and thankfully, they have followed his footsteps in their own homes today. Whenever there was any repair work to be done in the family, he ensured he called the artisan and supervised. He also encouraged our entrepreneurial initiatives. No brainwave or business idea was shut down. It was always doable with Dad.
A Hero is a Loving Husband
Dad had a pet name for Mum. He called her by the initial of her first name. They could chat and laugh endlessly as they unwound to each other every evening. Their bond of friendship was so strong. Nothing was too mundane or petty to share. Dad earned far more than Mum, but we never saw the difference as Mum was the one who disbursed the funds and she always made us thank Dad for the provision. They had their disagreements but tried as much as possible for us not to see them quarrel, as they were always conscious about the example they were setting. Indeed, Dad treated Mum like a queen, and he was her King because respect and honour were mutual, not competitive.
The truth is that to be a hero, one needs to learn, unlearn, and re-learn.
Almost all my friends remember meeting my Dad at some point while I was in school. My Mum was always home as his greatest supporter and cheerleader. A year after we lost him, a friend wrote “I remember your dad, regularly passing by …to make sure his daughter was alright. He would bring foodstuffs with him. He was a humble man and I admired the love and trust he had for you. The same love he extended to all your siblings. The one thing I have come to know is that we all can never pay our parents back. What we owe them is to go on and be the best parent the Lord will enable us to be to our own children. Then, the legacy will live on. May the Lord continue to comfort you and your siblings and mum too. You look so much like your dad and you have also inherited his warm generosity. God bless you, my friend. Much love from me to you. Shalom.” Another friend wrote “I know you will really miss him. He was like your boyfriend. Thank God for the legacy he left.”
I read an objective article recently titled Every Woman’s Man. I couldn’t help but wonder who would teach our men to get their acts together? Every son needs a great Dad as his role model to curb the various kinds of abuse many women suffer today. The truth is that to be a hero, one needs to learn, unlearn, and re-learn. Indeed, Dad was every woman’s dream of a husband, father, brother, cousin, uncle, friend, boss, or subordinate. Should you be wondering if we just lost him, he passed about twenty years ago.
This piece was first published on emi.alawode.net