Fathers’ Day is June 19 this year. The date changes every year but the day remains a Sunday; it’s the third Sunday of every June. There! So, you can plan the next thirty Fathers’ Days from this year, can’t you?
‘Writer, as a toddler, with her father and mother ‘
I didn’t get to ever wish my dad a Happy Father’s Day, or celebrate him on the said day. Mainly because my Dad died when I was a teenager and back then Fathers’ & Mothers’ Day wasn’t a ‘thing’. I sometimes wonder if my Dad ever knew or felt I loved him. Did I show it? If so, how did I? Maybe by being obedient and heeding his advice (not always though)? Did I do anything for my Dad to know that I loved him?
It does gnaw at my insides sometimes, you know? I will never know if he knew I loved him. But when I think back, I must have shown him love one way or the other…surely! I would hug him when he returns from work; I would cry till he comforted me (wait, how is that me showing him love?), I would wash his socks, by hand, on weekends (and this was how I was introduced to laundry-by-hand) and sort his whites out for washing.
I will set only his table, and watch him try to finish his dinner while I hoped he would leave me some of his meal (which he always did). I will sit on the floor by his feet while we listened to the BBC’s one-hour radio drama and giggle alongside his laughter at the humorous episodes. He will explain some of the words and expressions I didn’t get in the drama. I will be seated next to him when he read the day’s newspapers, then he will hand them over to me to read particular sections which bored me out of my mind!
I would accompany my Dad to a number of his cocktail events (he was a diplomat and attended several of such) and drink so many soft drinks, while he talked about Africa’s fight for sovereignty.
I recall at one such event I heard my father chanting delightedly: “Princes shall come forth out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God”. I don’t know why that line has stuck with me (I was about 9 years old) but I would come to learn later on that it was a bible verse (Psalm 68 v 31) and also known as the Ethiopian prophecy which served as a critical and inspiring text for people of African descent in the Americas.
I remember many of the Ewe (that’s the tribe from the Volta Region of Ghana) songs that he will sing and unconsciously be teaching me the language by that single act. I loved the songs, but did he know that? I used to sing them to myself when I missed him while in boarding school.
The biggest thing I think my Dad (and mom, but she is alive) did for me was to give me an education and exposure to so much in life that I tended to be considered precocious by my peers and those older than me.
I was exposed to cultures by the books they got us to read, the plays we would go and watch as a family (at the British Council, back when it was a functional library), the cocktail parties (which were not meant for children, but my Dad would take me anyway) – where I heard about the struggles of Africa, racism, and emancipation, the trips to our hometowns in the Volta and Central regions and Togo, the belief in one’s self and the spirit of gratitude.
My father was a great public speaker and had his first stint abroad when he was still in secondary school (Mfanstipim School, if anyone cares to know, lol!); in my time spent with him, I believe I honed my public speaking skills, which are serving me very well today.
I picked some other knacks from father, such as throwing my head far back when I’m having a good laugh, service to one’s country, a stickler for doing the right thing even if it costs you. Wait a minute, was I not trying to figure out how I showed my Dad I loved him when he was alive? I guess I will never know, but I do know this one thing – I would give anything to have had the chance to dance with my father…. Happy Fathers’ Day in Heaven, Daddy xoxo!