A Space Too Little Explored [5] The End

coffee end

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

The End

Wetin make you cry?” I asked the six foot two gruff security man.

A mattress leaned on its side against one wall and a spare blue uniform hung from a nail on the opposite wall. A small desk and chair on which he sat and lay his head completed the furnishing in the gatehouse.

After prompting him for a while, he replied, “My papa  . . . e die before I fit show am wetin I be.”

When im die?” I asked.

E don tay.”

A tender moment that never repeated itself. It was the second time I had seen a man cry. The second time was like the first. Both men were crying over loss of something that they had never shared with their fathers because death came too soon.

I have wanted to explore the relationship between sons and fathers for a long time. Finding men who were willing to tell their stories was difficult then as it is now although this time, I offered anonymity.

Two years ago when I approached a friend to contribute to a series on fatherhood, he said, “Do you know I live down the street from my parents and I hardly drop by? When I do, it’s because of my mother. My father, too much stuff going on there.” 

When I pressed, he said, “I’m just not ready to go there.” 

He is in his thirties now.

A writer I admire said, “We just discovered we have another brother who is twenty-eight! Don’t ask me about my father right now,” before going AWOL on me.

A recent conversation I had contained elements of estrangement I have come to know.

“I didn’t talk to my father for nine years. Well I wanted to, but he wouldn’t speak to me because I disappointed him.”

“How?”

“All my siblings followed the path he carved out for them based on what he perceived as their strengths. He read me wrong. I tried. I really tried not to waste the money he’d spent on tuition, but flunked the first year of school and then quit to do my thing.”

“Let me tell your story,” I urged. It will help someone.

“Dad and I just started talking again, it’s still too fresh.”

I understood and respected that.

When fathers don’t speak their sons’ love language, internal bleeding occurs on both sides. I am suspect of sons who proclaim that they don’t need their father’s affirmation. Sons, who admit that they need and would love to have their father’s affirmation, but have come to terms with not having it and the man they call father, feel real to me.

However, not all stories are punctuated with grief or trauma. There are many stories of afternoons playing ball at the park, evening conversations about what it means to be a man, and long-distance phone calls seeking advice on pressing matters.

Is every man trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes? I think so. The dots were obvious to me as I read or listened to stories, even when the narrators were oblivious of the sub-plot of their lives.

Maybe one day I will author a coffee-table book with elegant photos of sons and fathers on one page and the story of their relationship on the other. I hope to paint an accurate picture, editorialized through the soft lens of a son who has received grace for his own mistakes and so better understands the shortcomings of his father.

To me, it remains a space too little explored.

 

Forget Batman: when I really thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be my dad. -Paul Asay

P.s. Special thanks to Ayo, Tola, and A.C. for sharing their stories. I thank everyone who also shared their story by commenting on the series.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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A Space Too Little Explored [4] Broken

broken

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

Broken

When I look back on my childhood, one word sums the hours spent playing football, riding my bicycle up and down our street, studying for exams, wincing as iodine was dabbed on a grazed knee, wrestling with friends, and fighting with my two brothers and only sister; carefree. My childhood was carefree because my parents, my father in particular, were careful to make it so.

Although he travelled a lot, my father always spent time with us whenever he was home. He was fun, rolling on the carpet with us, not a disciplinarian like my mother. I am the last-born. Deemed my father’s favourite by my siblings, I was the emissary who always obtained from him the favours they made me present to him as my idea. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.

When I was sixteen, I returned from school to find my mother sitting atop a trunk box, as we called those silver rectangular chests with black trimmings, not attempting to hide her tears as she welcomed me home. A couple of my aunts cooed encouragement to her like mourners. My heart raced. Had someone died?

At my prodding, in a moment of weakness I suppose, my mother spilled the details of my father’s affairs. Nearly every family in our neighbourhood lived with the evidence of polygamy or infidelity: half-brothers, half-sisters, second and third wives, and aunties, who were really girlfriends. Although these educated and wealthy families had a veneer of sophistication and cohesiveness, their children, my friends, let me know that the glue that held their blended families together gave often.

I took pride in my family of six, one father and one mother and four children. The glue that held us together did not give way, until that day, that day when my dad stopped being my hero.

My childhood was no longer carefree.

My mother’s belongings were in the trunk box. She had been waiting to say goodbye to my older brother and me, the only children who still lived at home, before she left.

“Who will look after you?” She asked when I insisted that I, her last son, could take care of myself so she should pursue her happiness.

In the end, my mother decided to stay. Life at home was routine again with one change, I stopped talking to my father. I could barely look at him talk less of greeting him. The ball of anger in my heart grew larger and larger. To keep from hitting him, I avoided him altogether.

I felt betrayed by my mother. As she served my father’s food and they laughed at the dining table, I could not understand how she forgave him. But I could not hold a grudge against her for she reached out to me and asked me to forgive her for involving me in something that was not my business. Still I could not do the one thing she wanted from me: forgive my father and reconcile with him.

My father stopped paying my tuition or giving me pocket money because he said that he would not support any child who disrespected him. I still lived at home, and my mum and older siblings picked up where he left off so I was never in need. I grew to resent my father even more.

At nineteen, I met a youth counselor who took an interest in me and we grew close as we talked about various subjects including my father. He nudged me to forgive my father. I said that I could not forgive my dad, the hypocrite. To the charge of hypocrisy, he gently insisted that I was no better, pointing to the evidence in my hostel room of days and nights spent with different girls. I was in the university, changing girlfriends the way I changed my clothes.

“But,” I protested my innocence, “I’m not married to any of them!”

Yet, his words haunted me. Was I no better than my dad? Had I become what I despised?

It took three years of encouragement from the counselor, three years in which I left university and moved out of my parent’s home, for me to forgive my dad and accept that I would have to be the one to reach for reconciliation.

“Yes,” my dad answered, the first time I called him, “who is this?”

Had he forgotten my voice or was he pretending? I told him I just called to say hello and then he said okay. I listened to his breathing, heavy as though he was waiting for something more. Or was it my own breathing? My heart, beating rapidly, obscured my hearing. I hung up, exhaling euphoria like a deflating balloon.

But, the next phone call was easier as was the next one after that. Eventually we settled into a routine without awkwardness, conversing about the present and the future. We do not talk about the past, that five-year window when we became strangers. When you bury something and pack dirt on it, then stamp it with your feet, sometimes plants grow above and you cannot tell where you buried it.

The only reference we have made, if I may call it that, to the past, was when my wife and I needed a babysitter to fill in for our nanny’s three-month absence. My dad, who was visiting at the time, mentioned that his friend’s daughter, just out of secondary school and waiting to gain admission into the university, could help. We welcomed the offer.

My dad said, “Please she’s my friend’s daughter. I don’t want any stories . . .,” his voice trailed off but his eyes did not waver from mine.

I was tempted to share some wisecrack about his philandering days. Instead, I said, “Dad, you don’t have to worry.”

There were no stories three months later.

Discovering that underneath my father’s superman cape lived an ordinary human broke me. Forgiveness mended me.

 

Broken pieces actin’ like we ain’t cracked
But we all messed up and can’t no one escape that
… Broken hearts inside of a broken soul
… And we all need grace in the face of each other

– Broken, LeCrae feat. Kari Jobe

 

Broken, is an amalgamation of conversations I had with people who were willing to tell me their stories but reluctant to write for this series.
©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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

_____________________

[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

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Space Too Little Explored [2] No Scorecards

no scorecard

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

No Scorecards

My father married my mother after the death of his first wife. That marriage produced a son I would know as my senior brother later in life. My father and mother moved to Lagos from his village in Yenegoa around the late 1930’s. They lost their first son, who would have been my elder brother.

My father joined the army and participated in the second world war of 1939 to 1945. I was born around the beginning of the war. After he came back from the war in 1945, I came to know him as my father. My two junior sisters were born in quick succession. Arrangements were made for me to attend primary school. My left arm was raised over my head to see if it could touch my right ear to determine my readiness for school.

Sometime later, we moved to my father’s village. There, my father built a house for my mother and her children. He did not live with us. He married another woman and from that point on, he neglected my mother. She moved to her village with my sisters because she could not accept the situation. Since I was in school and my father was paying my fees, I could not leave with my mother. I stayed with my grandmother, who cared for me. During the holidays, I went to the farm with her and I went hunting with an uncle.

After a few years, my father said he could no longer pay my school fees, so I left his village where I lived with my grandmother and went to live with my mother. During this period, my uncle who worked at UAC in Burutu requested someone to assist him at his home. I was chosen as the only suitable candidate. However, once I arrived Burutu, he left me with his mistress who was a trader. I again attended school and went to her shop in the market after school. My uncle spent weekends with her, which were the only times I saw him.

He moved from Burutu to Sapele and then to Warri because of his job, and his mistress and I moved with him. When I gained admission to Government College Ughelli, my uncle said he could not afford my tuition. His mistress, who had now become his wife, persuaded him to continue paying. He did. However, when I reached class 3, he stopped. I looked for sponsors to no avail. I wrote the resident, as governors where then called, in Warri intimating him of my plight. Although I did not receive a reply from him, the school asked me to return. That was how I completed my schooling in 1958 without paying any further fees.

Is every man trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes?

So much time has elapsed that it is not now easy to put in proper perspective what my reactions were at the time and how they may have affected decisions I have had to make subsequently. I did not see my father after I left home. My uncle with whom I spent most of my adolescent years was a disciplinarian who was not easy to please. He was relieved when I finished school and did not hesitate to mention that my training up to that point was the legacy he was bequeathing to me.

In those days, not educating a girl child was normal. So a father’s decision not to send his son to school was regarded as his business and not subject to any misgivings. Polygamy features in Nigerian society, even today.

Against this backdrop, I want to accept that those who raised me, particularly my uncle, did their best. Because we lived in close-knit communities, role models were not difficult to find. In the twilight of my life, I am not keeping any scorecard. From a young age, I meant to take my destiny in my hands. The challenges I faced served as vehicles en route my destination.

At the time my wife and I had children, it was the vogue for parents to train their children to whatever level they could attain. We were reasonably well-off and ensured our daughters received a good education. Although I do not see numbered dotted lines linking the trajectory of my life as in a colouring book, perhaps, subconsciously, for I do not remember thinking this way, I was trying to do better than my father had done. Posterity will tell.

 

Aeneas carried his aged father on his back from the ruins of Troy, and so do we all whether we like it or not, perhaps even if we have never known them. – Angela Carter.

 

A.C. Yeseibo is a retired banker. He makes his home in Port Harcourt with his wife and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren.

P.s. I am honoured to share my blog stage with my dad. Years ago, he wrote me a letter that has frayed at the ends and torn at the fold. Reading and rereading the letter through the years, his writing style became my own.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Space Too Little Explored [1] When I’m Gone

When I'm gone

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

When I’m Gone

My father was not what my kids refer to as the African dad. By that, I mean he knocked before entering the room I shared with my older brother when we were growing up and he never opened any letters addressed to my siblings or me. He took us out to play football regularly. My father said please before he sent us on errands and thank you when we returned. He called me, young man and all of this made me feel respected.

He was a disciplinarian who stuck to his words. While playing football in the living room one day, I broke a glass frame. He calmly said, “You will not be going with us on the trip tomorrow,” referring to the family trip to Yankari Game Reserve, Bagauda Lake, and Tiga Dam, which I had looked forward to for weeks. Because of his summary judgements, which we could not appeal, we jokingly called him commander-in-chief-with-immediate-effect.

The memories of his many when I’m gone sayings eclipse all others. One time, my mother said, “You keep going on about, when I’m gone, when I’m gone, are you very keen to die?” But so focused was he that he did not relent. He replied, “You all will remember everything I said when I’m gone.” There it was again, another when I’m gone saying! He was right. As I prepared to leave my previous job, a colleague told me, “I will miss you, but I will miss the stories about your dad even more.” I was surprised, as I could not recall saying that much about my dad.

I realize now that my father was not obsessed with death; he cared deeply about his legacy. Like a good leader, he was raising successors to advance what he believed in. At every opportunity, he passed on the baton of leadership.

I do not recall my dad ever calling in sick; he worked hard all the time. I am the same way. Although I have always had jobs I enjoy and never experience Monday morning blues, I wonder if I am just being me or if I inherited his work ethic. Is work my way of saying watch me daddy, I’m being just like you?

I am running my section of the relay race. Sometimes doubts crowd my lane. My father always seemed to know what to do or say in a situation. Am I being a well of wisdom my children can drink from? Am I still holding the baton or have I let it slip as I race through life? I hope my children see me the way I saw my dad. I desire to pass the baton to them too.

Reacting to my pragmatism about life especially material things, my wife once said, “You are just like your dad.” She compared me to a father-in-law she had never met. Like my colleague, she had seen him come alive in the stories I had unconsciously woven into the fabric of my life. It remains the best (unintended) compliment I have ever received.

William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” My father has never left my stage. He has been there all along.

Before he passed on, dad gave us the words he wanted inscribed on his headstone: Here lies M O O, who in his own life, tried to serve humanity and make a part of the world a better place. I pray my family says the same about me, when I’m gone.

Ayo Ogunsanlu makes his home in Essex, UK with his wife and three kids. He enjoys microbiology, running, and housework. On Facebook, he describes himself as a faithful and loyal friend.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Skype Dad

shoes & tie

He promised us that everything would be okay. I was a child, but I knew that everything would not be okay.
That did not make my father a liar. It made him my father.
– Jonathan Safran Foer –

I was raised in a time when being a man included protecting and providing for one’s family as the primary breadwinner. This drive, not my alarm clock, is the reason I am out of the house before 8 a.m. Due to the changing economic landscape, I can no longer marry one job for life. My friends and I have changed jobs at least thrice, foraging for choice assignments on different continents.

I work 6000km away from where my family resides. Every other fortnight, at the end of a six-hour flight and one-hour cab ride, I turn my key in the lock of our home. Depending on the time of the day, the sound of “Daddy! Daddy’s home!” fills the hallway extinguishing any trace of weariness. Some months I spend more time with them because of national holidays or meetings, which are scheduled near the city where they live.

One evening, exasperated that my eight-year old wasn’t concentrating on his homework, I let out, “I’ll soon knock some sense into your head!” I didn’t mean it of course. He must have thought I did, because he replied, “No, you can’t,” and laughed while throwing his pencil in the air.

He was right. I could not have. We were on Skype.

Skype gives me the illusion that I am there for breakfast on weekends and dinner and bedtime on some weeknights. I am sometimes forgotten on the kitchen table, left staring at the white ceiling, when TV or something else captures my children’s imagination. Their vocabulary includes poor connection and weak signal and we have learnt to decipher the ‘omens’ of the Wi-Fi signal bars on our devices like fortune-tellers predicting the future.

This present-absence weighs on my heart. Am I a good dad? Am I missing my children’s growing years? Will they grow up resenting me? Have I exhausted the options for securing a job closer home? Beyond financial security for my family, what about my self-actualization and professional growth?

There are stretches of time when my colleagues, men and women who live with their families in the city where I work, hunch over spreadsheets and reports, late into the night. As I leave them behind and head to my small apartment, I contemplate the difference between 11km and 6000km. Is it the weekends?

Absence can make the heart fonder or ponder. If I am fully present when I am with my children, the memories we create as I drop them off at school or play with them in the park, might put paid to questions my absence creates. Nevertheless, their mum’s constant sacrificial presence, for which I am tirelessly thankful, reinforces the answers they seek.

One night after I read my daughter a bedtime story and kiss her goodnight, my lips leave a tiny film of moisture on my iPad screen. The sensation is cool, but my heart remains warm for a long time afterwards.

 

Skype Dad travels round the globe on business assignments, but is home at every opportunity. He shared his story with me in reaction to the post, A Man Just Like You and Me.

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Photo Credit:  Unsplash/ https://pixabay.com/en/leather-shoes-boots-tie-laces-691609/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Man Like You and Me

dad

It’s only when you grow up and step back from him–or leave him for your own home–it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.
– Margaret Truman –

 

Becoming Dad

Ha, mo de ma’ngbe e jo gan o . . .” my father replied, after some silence; his voice strained with regret.

His eyes were misty and distant as the words fell from his mouth a second time, “Ha and I used to dance with you in my arms a lot.”

I had just asked my father why he never played with me when I was growing up. It was a warm Tuesday morning and the sun’s glow outlined the Welsh mountains. We scoffed a lovely breakfast at The Melting Pot, my wife’s café. While resting our food, we talked about the meaningfulness of things done and left undone. The mood felt safe enough for me to explore territory I should have outgrown but which sometimes dragged me back to youthful despair, hence my question.

You see, he was visiting my family again after several years. We spent more time together during this visit than we’d ever done before. In recent years, we’d begun to discuss matters, from the deep and trivial to personal and philosophical. Each subsequent discussion stretched us, not apart, but closer, as we better understood one another’s worlds.

He leaned forward in his seat and explained that he had no such upbringing or peer influence. Moreover, he was usually away because of work. He reassured me that he loved me, but given his background, he’d only danced and played with me in my very early years. We were both sad that he had neither seen nor met what had been a big need for me.

I am now a proud father of two wonderful children. Ours is a joyful story of love and affection expressed through banter, wrestling, singing, cuddling, debates, work, travel, and discipline.

However, as a young married man I had angst about having children though I relished the prospect. I wanted to be the beautiful father I had carefully conceived, but there was no one to walk me down that road. Because I’d heard that hurt people hurt people and you can become the worst of what you hate, I feared that I would wreck my children.

I studied and I prayed. A major answer came through friendship with our pastors Rob and Sue. The intimacy they shared with their kids freaked me out at first, but I soon realised it was what I longed for. My wounds began to heal as they mentored my wife and me.

I believe every man has a wound or two that may hamper his display of love or calcify his heart towards his children. I also believe each man has enough desire, courage, and capacity to love his children and show it in edifying ways that buoy them into robust futures.

I’m still on the road to becoming a beautiful dad. However, I’m confident that my children are not archiving questions they plan to ask me when they are forty-four and I’m visiting!

Later that evening, my father watched me battle my children on the carpet for what seemed an eternity to him. He exclaimed with delight, “Ha, joo, ma se awon omo yen l’ese o! Please, don’t injure those children o!”

My children and I are enjoying the life my father couldn’t have with me. He treasures our lives because he is part of the reason I found a happy intervention and started a different story.

OluFemi Ogunbanwo lives in North Wales with his wife Margaret and 2 kids aged 21 and 15. He is a Pastor, Family Mediator, and Parenting Coach.

 

Seeing Dad Through Daddy Eyes

My best time with my dad was when I was about eight or nine. Dad was always the disciplinarian. He gets a bad rap in my memory, which is unfairly coloured by that one attribute, except when I focus on this period of my life.

Several defining incidents jump to mind. First was when I told Dad that our dog, Ricky, was run over by a car. My strong, Nigerian, macho dad turned to mush. He was visibly upset and I thought he would cry. I witnessed a sensitivity that I had never seen before.

My fascination with science started early. Dad got me a chemistry set and I had fun with it. I also spent many hours shoving dad’s tester into live sockets for the fun of seeing the light come on. I tried to create my own lamp once; armed with bulb, bulb holder, electric cable, and plug obtained from Dad’s supplies drawer. I put it all together but since I hadn’t learnt about proper wiring, I ended up with a mini explosion rather than a lit bulb when I plugged in my contraption. My ingenuity was rewarded with a tanned bottom.

I remember riding my Chopper bicycle with stabilizers down our crescent-shaped driveway, which ran for about 100 metres linking the entry and exit gates of our house. One day, Dad decided the stabilizers were coming off. He came close, real close, supporting my bike and me, running down the driveway with me, and then suddenly letting go. I went through a mixture of emotions: enjoying his tenderness yet embarrassed at being the focus of attention. I was afraid of disappointing him if I fell, but I relished the adrenaline-fuelled exhilaration of riding unsupported with the wind in my face. I was riding! I was riding!

As I grew older, I felt Dad should have done more, been more loving, paid more attention to me, disciplined me less, and better prepared me for life ahead. So I withdrew from him and moved forward, leaning on myself.

I realise now that even though he looked so big and mature then, he was younger than I am now. A man with five kids in his early forties, he held a mid-management government job. He clawed his way out of poverty with a technical school qualification to insulate his own family from every trace of his earlier life in a polygamous home. He never experienced the love of a father yet he displayed more than he’d ever received.

Have I done better with my son and daughters even though I started out with much more? Would I have done half as much as Dad did if life served me with what he was given?

Faced with my own pressures, my son is being relegated in my thoughts, more often than I’d like to admit, to a day in future when I will have time to be the dad I swore I would be. Remembering my youth brings home the truth that life is only lived in the present.

Dad, I have come to appreciate you more than I did back then. Thank you for giving me more love than you ever received. I hope I honour your legacy by doing the same with my kids.

Carlton Williams lives in Lagos with his wife Anita and has four children. His life mission, expressed in Christian ministry and business, is to help people discover and demonstrate their God-given magnificence. 

 

Photo Credit: Wokandapix/ https://pixabay.com/en/dad-father-tie-father-s-day-798086/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.