OPINION: 𝐑𝐄𝐅𝐋𝐄𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍𝐒 𝐎𝐍 𝐋𝐈𝐅𝐄 𝐀𝐅𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝐋𝐎𝐒𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐌𝐘 𝐃𝐀𝐃 — BY DAYO ADEDAYO
As I write this, my father’s remains would be just a few days shy of its 50th year in the grave.
He was 48 when he passed on in 1972, the 29th day of May.
A biblical verse states that “life is but vapour”. As a 58-year-old man still living it up, I have realised that he died indeed in his prime. His life was just getting started, but like a vapour, he evaporated, leaving hazy memories in my eight-year-old mind; of a man who once was loved and I once called and who had been my dad!
It’s incredible how much time has passed and the realisation that I have hit half a century with no father to guide and look up to, of no husband for my mother, whom he left with five children to cater for, and 11 other children from his other three wives. Half a century of hopeless longing, silent weeping and heartfelt laughter and hopeful new beginnings as life and experience showered us lessons from both sides of the coin.
Anyone who knows me will know that I always refer to my father as a brilliant man with foresight despite his lack of formal education. Five particular things he did inform this opinion; first, his heavy investment in real estate. The writing of his will six years before his death, the appointment of his brothers who do not see eye to eye as executors of his will, and the clause he put in his will that nothing should be shared among his children until 21 years after his death. Furthermore, whatever comes out of his estate should be used for his children’s education as long as they are of school age. The fact that his brothers carried out his will to the letter is another story.
As the golden anniversary of his departure draws close, I can’t help but reflect on life itself, the stories my mother told me about his plans for them and for his children and how it all came crashing down after his death and over the years I had mentally analyse the pitfalls and the high point of his planning.
In many ways, these have informed my choices as an adult, consciously and subconsciously. This has been my way of keeping him alive and with me throughout the years in many ways.
Today, looking back at my dad’s lifetime, his mistakes and his strengths, I have taken a few things away that have served me well in my life, and I hope they will be of use to someone reading this today.
I learnt early in life to appreciate single mothers and orphans. Living through a similar experience and watching my mother’s struggles with life, family, financial resources and bringing us up despite all these limitations. My feeling towards these groups of people is that of empathy, and over the years, I have as much as I can, made myself available to be of help as much as I can.
I have also learnt the value of economically empowering your spouse. We live in a country where some men still find it challenging to live with a financially independent and empowered woman. An independent and resourceful woman is an asset to her family, not one to be seen as a rival or to be jealous of.
Life throws unexpected wrenches in our path, which disrupt a channel that has been fruitful and brings it all to a halt. There are no social security programs to take care of the vulnerable in Nigeria, sad but true!
A financially independent woman steps in at this point, ensuring her family stays afloat. I always knew I would never let my children go through what I did, even as a young boy without a father. I knew the kind of woman I would be married to in my subconscious, and I never relented on that. It is he who has worn the shoe that knows where the shoe pinches.
My mum would always tell us never to eat with all ten fingers. I never really understood this until life taught me a few lessons. Through the stories she told me of my dad, about how he invested all his hard-earned money into real estate and how it came in handy for us, his children, when he passed on, her warning became a fact I could take with me on my journey onwards.
Education, I realised, looking back at the struggles, was the most significant asset our parents bequeathed us. Education opened up doors physical assets could not. Education ensured that we continued to be relevant despite every other factor that derailed our progress. We used that singular asset to forge and find our place in the world.
Your spouse should be your closest ally. Friends and families will only be there for a while, and as time goes by, everyone naturally moves on with their individual struggles. It is a natural cycle of events, even in the animal kingdom. Your life partner becomes your only faithful companion till the very end. Nothing is more important than your loved ones.
Know yourself and set goals for yourself in life. The worst lie anyone can tell is the one he tells himself. To succeed, you must be truthful to yourself and be careful not to be influenced negatively by your friends or surroundings in any other circumstances.
Love more than you receive. Forget ills done to you as quickly as possible. It brings peace of mind. I hardly brood over things as tomorrow might be too late for corrections or amendments. Learn independence and contentment. Never look or begrudge friends or acquaintances for what they have. I am a firm believer in the saying that “the water I will drink will not pass me by”.
Whatever will be, will be.
Have friends that are better than you in every way and make friends with those with both parents if you have none or have just one parent. Most of the things I know today are from my close-knit friends with better or complimentary family structures. There is always something missing in single-gender parenting. The role of a woman is different from that of a man; no matter how good a parent is, nature has been designed so that we need those balancing energies to nurture children.
I am lucky to live longer than my dad and three generations before me, including my immediate elder brother, Ibrahim Adeyinka Adedayo, who died before they turned 50. I remember approaching 50, afraid that I would not make it like my father and brother before me. So much so that a few months before the time, I hardly did anything silly or travelled like I used to do. My fears turned out to be baseless as I had a memorable 50th
It’s been an experience filled 50 years after my father’s demise, Alhaji Ambali Adedayo Yusuf, and I thank God the Almighty for who I am today, where I am, and where I will be tomorrow.
I miss you more daddy, these days than when I was much younger. The young boy in me still craves the cuddle, my teen self has stories I want to hear you tell, and the adult me, a father like you were to me, has a lot I would love to discuss with you. I know we have lost that chance, but I, still sometimes dream that we can.
I am immensely grateful that I can be here for my children and do with and for the things I couldn’t do with my father. I pray to live long to see all my children achieve their dreams in my lifetime!
𝐒𝐮𝐧 𝐫𝐞 𝐨, 𝐎𝐦𝐨 𝐬𝐨𝐤𝐨𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐛𝐞𝐧, 𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐦𝐨 𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐨 𝐬𝐚𝐧 …
Dayo Adedayo is a British-trained Nigerian documentary photographer, cultural anthropologist, and author.