It feels like I never met my father. Even though I knew him for the first two years of my life, I have no memory of him. Well, at least none that I recall. I grew up staring at pictures of him, memorizing his smile so that I could recreate it on my face. When I was a child, my mother would smile at me and say in a voice heavy with sadness, ‘you look like your father.’ Somehow that statement always brought utmost satisfaction to my young mind. When I was 10, I found his old clothes stashed away and revamped my fashion to the latest fashion line: daddy’s-big-shirts-fit-best. When I was 15, I discovered my dad’s camera and like a professional photographer on a mission to capture a grasshopper perched on a grass, I lifted the heavy camera to my eyes and clicked away at the capture button even though there was no film in it. I could go on and on about how I experienced my father long after he was gone and even still do today.
All of these experience taught me invaluable lessons of which I would share just 5 with fathers, especially, as I remember my dad on this father’s day.
Whenever I watched my father’s pictures, all I could think was, ‘he really knew how to have a ball.’ There were pictures of he and my mum at a party, at Berlin feeding pigeons, at the zoo, at a graduation ceremony, etc. In those captured memories I learned that life is not all about hustling, or ‘being stiff and serious.’ Let your hair down, do something fun. Do it now, not tomorrow, because tomorrow never ends. Take your family out. Go to the beach, or the movies. I know those are the moments that matter because it’s those fun-time memories that my mum talks about the most.
Love your wife!
The only other thing, aside sadness, that is always in my mother’s eyes when she talks about my dad, is Love. It’s clear that my mum adored her husband. It’s not hard to see why though. My father loved her. It was in the way he looked at her in those pictures, the way they held hands and threw their heads back laughing at God knows what? The way their lips met at the church steps on their wedding day. The way he smiled into her face in a picture where she was pregnant with me. Growing up I knew what love looked like in my parents’ eyes. No boy could sweet talk me into believing in fake love. I already knew what to look out for. As a father, loving your wife is the easiest way to show your children what true love looks like. Whether you like it or yes, your children would most likely grow to emulate you.
Be a good man!
I don’t know that my father was a good man simply because I am told that he was. Afterall, it’s habitual to refer to anyone who has passed on as ‘good’. I knew my father was a good man because of the way everyone who knew him treats me when they encounter me. There’s always the urgency to be extra nice to me because my father had done one good deed or another for them. Months ago, my mother received a letter from an old friend of my dad’s who wanted to reconnect with his family because my father had been good to him. As a man, if you were to turn your back, would the people in your circle treat your offspring kindly or would they see it as an opportunity to repay you for all your unkindness towards them?
Leave a legacy!
My father didn’t die a rich man. He died still working so he didn’t have much inheritance to leave behind. But he did leave us something. His books. Now, I know that might sound ridiculous to some people, but his books contributed to a lot that I am today. As a child who stared at her father’s stack of thick hard covers on the bookshelf everyday, I automatically wanted to grow up reading books like those too. After I discovered my love for reading in the pages of Mills and Boons, I returned to my father’s books and devoured every English test that I could find, and in them I found invaluable knowledge. You as a father, what legacy would you leave for your children in the things you’re buying today? Old wine bottles? Scraps of your G-wagon long after you’re gone? Think about it.
My father didn’t plan. Of course he didn’t expect to die so early or so sudden but then who does? Every day I think about how unfortunate it is that we couldn’t benefit from his connections and investments. Dear fathers, please prepare for an unknown future. Let your wife in on all your dealings, and your children when they’re old enough. Plan for your family’s future. Save. Plan and save. Your family will be better for it.
As we all celebrate this father’s day, I pray a consciousness is awoken in all fathers, to be not just a father by DNA, but indeed.
Happy Father’s Day!