Image: Indigenous Bushman/San family embracing (10 years old, 14 years old, 43 years old), Namibia by Martin Harvey
After almost a week since Daddy's passing, I cried for the fist time last night. For a man I knew for only a fraction of my life I'm surprisingly shattered. In fact I'm beside myself with grief. When I think to myself, most of our conversations consisted of heated debates and intense discussions but that was what we had in common apart from his signature vampire shaped teeth that all his children inherited. Dad and I shared a common trait of being tirelessly outspoken and never shy, as opposed to my mother’s gentle soft-spoken nature.
One night, many years ago I was in my dad's car while he was driving me home, he pointed to lights in a distance that were moving in a circular motion and he said, "Do you know what that is? It's a merry-go-round." I just remember thinking to my little self. Yeses!!! I've made it. I had a person I called Dad, now he was driving me home and he was also showing me all sorts of wonderful things on the way. It dawned on me at that very defining moment that I was in fact, the coolest kid that I knew alive.
My dad worked hard, he did the best he could to provide for 12 odd children. I could easily criticize him for having so many kids but I guess at the time contraceptives weren't as accessible as they are today. He was blessed or cursed with impeccable fertility. Lol. The last time I went to visit Dad at his home on the 22nd of Feb 2014, a little more than a month ago, I secretly recorded our last conversation. I did this because he, at times, randomly said the most profound things in our conversations and I liked to replay that. In his last words with me, he was excitedly telling me of how he bought a new car, he was proud. "This car is big enough to take all the little ones to school you see, oMiss. Their schools are far apart" he said. I was kind of chuffed. It reminded me that he was a family man. Who not only loved his children but also his grand children.
Dad had friends all over, everywhere. I must say I've adopted that from him. He was often very proud as he introduced me to them, as if to show me off, I loved that. One of the privileges of having Dad as my dad was that I was always being introduced to new siblings. Imagine having an ever-extending family with really good genes.
I was hoping in the future he'd be able to walk me down the aisle. I constantly wanted to prove myself to him, for the first time last year he told me that he was proud of me. He also told me he loved me in that year for the fist time too. It was a good year indeed. See my dad didn't easily pass affectionate words like that but I always knew it was what he was thinking. I presume his lack of affection was because he was old school. I would often reach and jump up to hug and kiss him, he would cringe and shrug me off. It was okay though, cause I had enough love for the both of us. He was a stubborn cultural man and I got that. It didn't bother me much. Having a person I could call 'Dad' was priceless. That was enough.
I really, mainly have good if not great memories of uTata (not Madiba.) Tata is Xhosa for Dad and that's how I responded to my dad, lol. None of this would have been possible however, if it had not been for the selfless angel that is my mom. A strong woman who at times had to play more than one role in my life. She had to re-invent herself to become whatever her children needed her to be at the time. She never to my memory, ever uttered a single bad word to me about my semi-present dad, which is only obvious to me now that I have grown. In fact she always pushed me to pursue a stronger relationship with my dad. This is courage beyond anything I've ever witnessed on earth. No exaggeration.
My relationship with my dad did a heck of a lot for me in terms of validation as a girl. It added a slight stability to my life. More importantly it helped me connect, receive love and forgiveness from a real Heavenly Father, God. For this I will be forever grateful. My upbringing was imperfect, but it was perfect for me. It equipped me for an unknown future that only God knew.
If you're reading this and you're a parent, a daughter, a son. I hope you can take something from my experience. Parents, put your children first, don't bash their hopes by undermining another parent. Kids, love your parents, despite their flaws, no one goes to parent school, and hence there are no perfect parents. It is by the grace of God that they can be good parents. Pray for them, support them, love them, and forgive them. You never know how long God has given them to you.