Where do I start?
You would have been 72 years old today, so let me start by wishing you a happy posthumous birthday.
The past few weeks have been like a dream, one in which I have been vacillating between reality and disbelief.
As we concluded the rites of committing you to Mother Earth, I looked to my friend and said, “So now I am fatherless…”
I had always dreaded the day I would lose a parent. I wondered how friends and acquaintances who had lost theirs felt; needless to say, now I know.
I’m not certain I have come to terms with reality; the reality that my siblings and I will never see you in the physical realm again. But I know you would have wanted us to be strong in the face of what has happened.
And we are trying, dad. We are trying, even though it’s undoubtedly the hardest thing we have ever had to do.
But I reckon today’s not the day to slip into melancholy. It’s one to celebrate the exemplary life you lived.
I wanted to mourn you privately.
I remember insisting to close friends that I wasn’t going to share the news of your death just yet because I wasn’t keen on being inundated with condolence messages.
What I discounted was the enormity of influence you garnered during your time here.
The next day, the newspapers were awash with the news; suffice it to say, the decision to formally announce your passing was taken out of our hands.
I hated it because our privacy had been violated.
I loved it because you deserved the recognition and goodwill you got in death.
But mostly, I was proud.
As I read one report after the other, my emotions became a potpourri of sadness, pride, and inspiration.
You were an important man, daddy. And though you are not with us anymore, each time yet another person reveals how you impacted their life in the most profound way, my heart swells with pride again.
And there are many such stories… so much so that it has morphed into pressure for us, your children.
Now people expect us to be geniuses because you raised the bar so high.
We may not be able to fill those gigantic shoes you wore, but by Jove, Toyosi, Bisola, and Lolade will strive to make you proud in all our endeavours.
You were a hands-on father while we were growing up.
Taking baths, cooking us your own special Abacha, and doing morning and afternoon school runs religiously.
It was from you I first learnt what a dutiful husband and father should be like.
Never keeping late nights except on the premise of the call of duty.
Never failing to put food on the family table.
Never defaulting in paying the rent or school fees.
You were my personal walking dictionary.
My penchant for reading and learning new words came from you because you were always ready to provide answers to my questions.
Daddy, can you remember the day I asked you the meaning of “harlot”?
To date, I chuckle whenever I remember the look on your face when I mentioned a teacher had asked us to direct the question to our parents, and the inquisitive child that I was did exactly as she was told.
Because of you, I can write proudly in Yoruba—you made sure of this by teaching all of us even before we gained admission into secondary school—little wonder my Yoruba teachers loved me.
I recall how I would wait up for you to get back from work late at night because I didn’t have the heart to go to bed without seeing my precious daddy. It didn’t matter that I had to wake up at 5 am for school the following day.
I would be nodding off, but even at that tender age, I was unflinching in my resolve to see you last thing at night.
Many times, we shared your dinner, having our daddy and daughter moment.
In your last days, you reminded me of this.
Only that I did not need to be reminded. It’s something that has been etched in my memory since I was four.
Of course, we had our differences as I grew older.
I wasn’t that little girl anymore so it was only natural that we disagreed sometimes.
Some say it’s because we are alike, after all, we two are the only November babies in the family.
Maybe I inherited some of your stubborn streak. I certainly inherited your intelligence.
Everyone says that and who am I to disagree?
Even as I write this, it’s surreal to me that I’ll never get a chance to sit and chat with you anymore.
But our last conversations continue to ring in my ears.
Your fears and worry over your children.
Your desires and prayers.
Your earnest desire for me.
I remember them all, daddy
And when those things come to pass, I’ll smile up to Heaven and remind how I told you not to worry so much.
That it was only a matter before those things began to unfold.
Odi módé ìrêsà
Ômo ărèsà dúdú lègbón pûpă làbúrò
Ômo fêni sí êpô n o fêni sépo níí ni ărá ìrésà nínú
Ômo wôlé ô bųpǫ níí yá môdê lára
Níresà níresà gbogbo môdê níresà nílé
My erudite scholar dad
A reservoir of knowledge
Cognoscenti of the medical profession
Doyen of radiotherapy and oncology
Sleep well, Remi.
Lolade loves you.