Yesterday was Father’s day. I dropped a line for my father on Facebook (amazing isn’t it), because he was out of town and I couldn’t reach him by phone.
I started to think about what having him as my father meant to me.
I remember being six in the 80’s and attending Christ Chapel meetings with him. Tunde Joda’s baritone and the sharp punk he sported are my earliest memories of my Christian faith. My father got an earlier start on the evangelical, way before my mum and introduced me to a world of speaking in tongues, a ferocious appetite for Bible reading and a love for singing husky alto/tenor hymn parts.
He taught me to read and to love language. My mother (of sweet, blessed memory) was always the one who taught me Maths, and my father got the part as English teacher. He helped me construct those English essays, and with his characteristic cursive flourish, he would scribble the biggest words my seven year old mind could appreciate at the time.
He taught me hard work and diligence. Growing up, I watched him like clockwork, up at 4, on the road by 5.30 for that Government job that helped pay our bills.
He taught me laughter and I know that this is where I got my love for humour. He would regale my siblings and I with tales of the same ‘Fatima’ story, and each time with a different punch line. He would repeat the jokes his father had told him in that unique way an Ibibio man gurgles his words.
He sowed the seed for journaling. I remember that he scribbled everything. The diaries that came in each new year were his best presents. I once stumbled on a page where he wrote all the years up until 2020 and how old his children would be and what he hoped they would have accomplished. He kept all our report cards and school fees invoices (yep you read right) from Nursery School till High School. Of course you know that means he had all the Nepa bills and receipts.
As I grew older and began to romanticise my childhood less, I began to see my father as the man that he was and not the godlike figure I had earlier on adored. It changed me. In more ways than one. But a deeper change superseded all others. And that was a deep, abiding love and appreciation for the human that he is. Strenghts and weaknesses and all. So Instead of waiting until his funeral (which is still far, far off, I hope) I chose today to celebrate my father, my sire, my friend. And in realizing that it took the unique qualities of two people to make me, I chose to celebrate the man as I have celebrated the woman.
To you, daddy, Happy Father’s day, you did better than most.
P.S Take your time today to celebrate the one you choose to call Father. Don’t wait much longer.