A Space Too Little Explored [3] P.S. I Love You

p.s. i love you

Every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.

P.S. I Love You

I do not visit my dad often enough. I blame it on the terrible state of the road from Lagos to Ibadan. My dad and mum are sympathetic. “I know, it’s okay,” my dad usually says whenever I call on a public holiday to explain why I did not visit. Sometimes, I can tell from his tone that he is disappointed. When the reconstruction work on the Lagos-Ibadan express road is completed, I will no longer have an excuse. I hope I will not need one.

Last weekend, I made the 140km trip to Ibadan because my dad turned seventy. We had thanksgiving mass at church and a get-together at home afterwards for close friends and family. My dad had insisted he didn’t want a party. He has never been one for extravagance, and he deliberately avoids the spotlight. I watched with disbelieving eyes, his resplendent agbada[1] swaying in the gentle breeze as his deft footwork kept pace with the music. His smiles swallowed the years written on his face. I thought he would stop when my mum tired and left. He didn’t. I realised, at that moment, that we should have ignored him and thrown a big bash anyway.

Like his birthday party, my relationship with my dad has been full of contradictions. Growing up, I didn’t understand why he was so conservative, eschewing little luxuries and why his work was all that seemed to matter to him. We grew apart in my teenage years. I withdrew into my world and shut my dad out of it. He didn’t understand why I was insistent on doing everything my way, why I never shared my dreams with him.

I don’t have any fond childhood memories in which my dad features. He didn’t teach me how to ride a bike. We didn’t spend evenings playing video games together. If he gave me piggyback rides, I must have been too young to remember. My two-year old son often protests when I smother him with hugs and kisses. My wife says I overdo it. I have no intention of tempering it. Am I only clowning about or is the effusive physical affection I display for my son the antidote to the intimacy I have never had with my dad? It is easier to tell my son I love him than to say those same three words to my dad.

Even today, I am unable to reconcile how my dad and I can be so different. But my wife often reminds me that I overstate our differences and that there are more ways in which I am similar to him than I am willing to acknowledge. My dad is a medical doctor. I admire his work ethic and dedication to his patients. His love for God and compassion for others impress me. In these areas, I aspire to do better; I would be proud to equal his accomplishments.

Long after the last guests had left, I sat in the living room with my dad, our conversation laced with restraint. I realised, during the intermittent quiet spells, that I do not need him to be like me or to be the kind of dad I imagine perfect fathers are like, to appreciate that he has been a good dad. There and then, I cherished the opportunity to visit my dad.

The greatest distance between two people is misunderstanding. My dad and I are talking more than we have ever done. We cannot make up for the lost years, but we are finding our peace in the present.

Dad, I am proud to be your son, in other words, I love you.

 

Olutola Bella is a lawyer. He blogs @ bellanchi.wordpress.com

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[1] Agbada: A long, wide-sleeved flowing gown, often embroidered, worn by men in parts of West Africa, especially Nigeria. [Credit: Oxford dictionary]

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

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33 thoughts on “A Space Too Little Explored [3] P.S. I Love You

  1. Hi Tola

    Blame my overactive imagination but I pictured this literally “His smiles swallowed the years written on his face” I chuckled and continued to smile till I finished reading this heartwarming, well-written piece.

    I’m so glad that the clear eyes of age have helped you see things better, and that you and father are finding your peace in the present. Better late than never. 🙂

    This piece made my heart ache, I miss my father so much, there are some things that I wish I’d told him. Do I simply blame PMS for the tears that welled up in my eyes as I read? Ah, that would be a lie and it’s a Sunday after all.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Hi Timi,

    Thank you for allowing these delightful actors dance on your stage, we are the ones enjoying yanfu-yanfu.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Nedoux. I am touched by how much you miss your father. I am grateful to Timi for helping beam the light on our relationships with our fathers and find the courage to share with you.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful. I really liked this series, Timi. Thanks for giving the guys a chance to share their thoughts about their dads. I think as women we understand and sympathize with the complex relationships we have with our mothers, but fathers and sons…that’s a story worth telling, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. ‘The greatest distance between two people is misunderstanding’.. your statement is correct. The source of all discord is misunderstanding and the sooner we realise that the sooner we receive healing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. inevitably, I think we grow up to appreciate our dads….they are often misunderstood in our younger years. I also find that they probably assume ..wrongly…. that distance helps with the ability to “enforce” discipline….that was what may have been modelled to them and the only example of what they had to act on. In that regard, the early death of my granddad probably helped me… my dad was brought up by his mother after age 11.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My story is similar to yours but now grown up and living far away from my Dad, I now see things differently and understand the answers to what, why and how questions he never spared time to answer. He did what he had to do and I can only score him by the end result which made me the man I am today.
    Most of all, I learnt to identify, understand and embrace my uniqueness.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad to know my story resonates with you, Joshua. Getting older & wiser does give a lot of perspective. My uniqueness was a source of conflict with my dad when I was younger, but with hindsight it need not have been.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. As my dad and I grew older, we became friends, and it was a wonderful transition. But it wasn’t until he was in his 60s. I finally got around to telling him I loved him when he was in his 80s. I wish I would have done it much sooner. Thanks for your blog. –Curt Mekemson

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Actually I find that a wussy type of people, when I was in my teens yes I wanted to make him proud and be like he was, then a when I became a man I realised I was my own man, that I was never goin to be like him or do the type of things he does, (although I do have some quite similar traits as him, like this one I´m talking about) and I´m quite glad with me, including all my screw ups.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My relationship with my father is also filled with contradictions. This day is of course the perfect day to reflect back on our fathers. While I am not close to my father I am grateful for so many of the traits and virtues that he has imparted to me chief of which is duty. Thanks dad. And thank you Olutola Bella for this wonderful post on Father’s Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.”

    What won’t we give for a father’s love?!
    My father’s lagecy and achievements dog every sphere of my life like a headmaster’s instructions.

    I navigate the world, a better prepared person bearing these in mind.

    I thank God specially for the privilege to have him as my hero.

    Liked by 3 people

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