Growing up I have come across people who feared their fathers, young men like me who talked about their dad with derision and detachment and without much camaraderie and it always surprised me. My dad had this face, quite like mine, you saw it and you thought the worst, but he was a nice, jovial man.
My daddy loved to run a close knit family, he didn’t believe in delegating to someone else something he could do himself especially when it came to family. My father was our nurse; because he’d come home in the evening have all of us sit down and tend to our wounds; wounds sustained playing in the yard. He was our manicurist, he always made sure our nails never grew or became dirty, he even cleaned out our ears with Q-tips, that was our dad; hands on. So it wasn’t surprising that we grew close to him.
As a kid daddy was my closest friend, I feared my dad not as some of my friends do their fathers, I feared him out of respect, I feared disappointing him and I feared not living up to his expectations. My dad was my super hero, my own Superman.
My dad would often take me along on errands and that made me feel special riding shotgun with him as he visited friends or just wanted to go out.
I could play with my dad, I mean really play, I guess that’s where I get my playful nature. My dad was mischievous too, I’ve got that too. Some evenings when he came back from work we’d gather around him and he’d tell us stories, put up magic shows or play fight with us.
I can count on one hand the amount of times my dad ever hit me and they revolved around school or not saying my prayers.
I know I sound like a guy who has a man crush on his dad and I am not just saying all these because he was my father, my dad was all that.
You know how children are closer to their mom and not their father? Well we were close to both our parents and I dare say a tad closer to our father. I remember one evening when mom and dad in a friendly competition, made us choose who we liked more. Uka and I picked dad and he promised us a puppy and Onyi picked mom and she got a bottle of Malt mom made her promise not to share with us for daring to pick dad over her. We got our puppy a couple of months later, but since puppies don’t take sides we all shared him. Jimmy was his name.
Daddy wasn’t much educated, he stopped somewhere in standard…..don’t remember, but has to be the equivalent of JS 2 but he was a well read man, self schooled. I got my reading habit from him and for a guy who didn’t finish school, he had a large library. His biggest joy was seeing his kids through school, he always encouraged us and was never overbearing.
Dad would often help us with our homework or ask about our school work and made sure we had lesson teacher.
My daddy was like every other Nigerian dad, they all claim to have come first in their class, you gotta wonder with so many dads coming first, who came second?
In all my life, I never saw my dad get into a fight with my mom, he’d always leave the living room till my mom cooled off. He was a gentle man.
He was charismatic too, a fact evidenced by his involvement and leadership of many church and social activities. My dad was also supportive, he always ready to be the shoulder to lean on. We weren’t the only ones to benefit from that, there was always a steady stream of church members and family friends in and out of our house. That was always a subject of many fights, because people always took advantage of that and my mom hated that! Plus my family was large because we almost always had one cousin or the other staying with us, childhood was a blast I tell you.
As my father celebrated his birthday on the 4th of this month, he would have being 58, I traveled back in time to have a glimpse of all the qualities that not only made him a great father but a good man and I ask why I was so lucky and wonder if I’d ever measure up!
Would my kids be close to me or miss me when I am not around?
As far back as I can think, I had always thought I’d bring my family home to my mom and dad; that picture is still etched in my brain. They’d be wrinkly with age and I’d lay my child in dad’s lap and watch him play with her.
Sometimes I think Chioma; our last born is lucky, because she doesn’t have much memories of dad, so she wouldn’t have much pains or regrets and at times I think she is so unfortunate not to have the memories of dad and her doing the march pass in the parlor; she at the back barely 3 and dad in front and they will be singing on top of their voice. She doesn’t remember any of that now, I wonder how she feels about that. Is it a blessing or a curse?
So as my dad marks his 58th birthday, I think back and realize I miss him more every year. The April man! Born in April, married in April, died in April.
The April man.