Father’s joy, that’s the literal meaning of Abigail… Father’s joy, but for the most part of our journey, these are not the words I would use to describe the relationship between you and I.
I have no idea how it felt like to hold your first daughter in your arms. The rush of emotions, the sudden instinct to protect her and provide and provide the best for her. To ensure that she had the best. The hope and desire that you’ll be able to bring her up right so that she can make the right choices.
And yet there I was, a baby growing up in an abundance of all the love and care you and mum could humanly provide. I’m told I used to be sick often so I guess there’s that too… the scare of not knowing what’s exactly wrong coupled with the hope and desire that I get better.
We started off so great, you were always my hero, there was always this pride that came with being your daughter… quite the name you made for yourself. I was definitely not sure why the people regarded you the way they did but it did feel great knowing that I was the one who got to receive all the tender love and care and protection from the tough guy they thought you were. Running into your arms whenever you got back from work, receiving the gifts you came back with; books, clothes, sweets etc…. everything was special because it came from you.
Even then I remember I used to be a little scared of being reported to you by mum for whatever wrong I did, which when I think of it now, I guess I just didn’t want you thinking that I wasn’t the princess I thought you saw me to be. We were, in those times, a dad (the hero) and his little princess doing life together.. what could possibly go wrong?
It sucks that life doesn’t give us a break during our happy moments and good times so we can linger longer and and cherish those moments, but I guess it’s okay because for this reason, the dark moments don’t always last forever either. I was growing with each passing day and getting to know the world for myself. I soon outgrew my cuteness and we both settled into the rhythm of life. Mine was to study and get good grades while yours was to be strict and provide for the family per the demands of the culture we grew up in.Our honeymoon stage of princess and hero was slowly fading away and you definitely didn’t spare me from the wrath of your anger whenever I was in the wrong. I learnt that the best way to make you happy was to bring home good grades and avoid making trouble for mum. Somehow, I didn’t feel like I could open up to you about whatever was going on in my head, never thought you’d understand and you always seemed to have a lot on your plate so I learnt to have conversations with myself in my head and be present enough for you all. What I didn’t realise was that, with every conversation we didn’t have, our path became even the more wider.
Soon, boys came in and our relationship got rockier. They became an easy distraction and I can’t imagine how frustrating and scary that might have been. Somehow I felt you were over protective of me and over-doing this whole dad thing. I mean they were just friends and I wondered why you couldn’t just trust me. Could it have been that we weren’t able to convey our intentions to each other? Eventually I felt I needed to protect them from you and your scrutiny. Soon I became the rebellious child, always lying to you or mum about my whereabouts and you always catching me in my lies. I hated the look of disappointment in your eyes and the sound of distrust in your voice because I knew you were right. In all that, I missed the look of hurt and the sound of concern in your voice. What started off as Princess-Hero relationship soon became a story of two people who didn’t seem to understand each other standing on opposite sides of a battle field. Father’s joy?…. far from that.
Today being father’s day, I want you to know that i get it now. All of it. I never gave you enough credit for the damn job you’ve done in raising my siblings and I. I failed to realise that we were both growing, I failed to realise the stress of parenthood and fatherhood for that matter. I realised later that all that strictness was to protect me from the boys, from my childish impulses, and to help me focus on my books so I don’t become a cliche. I’m grateful for your toughness because any less and I probably would’ve gone astray. I bear testimony that no man would’ve been able to bring me up to be the lady I am today other than you. I’m sorry I took so long but I want you to know that I get it now.
You’ve taught me selflessness, hard work and sheer humility. You’ve shown me that there are good men in this world and I can’t settle for less. Even tho we didn’t come with manuals on how to bring us up, you’ve done a great job of it. I will never feel too old to run to hug you, or too old to fight with my siblings over who gets to take off your shoes, or to be fed meat from your soup by you. I remember when we both refused to eat because Ghana lost that match against the Cameroonians during the African Cup of nations only for you to catch me eating in the kitchen at around the same time you gave up the hunger strike. I thank you for forgiving me every time I went wrong, for by that, you showed me the forgiveness of God. Thank you for always going out of your way to provide the best for us even if it kills you… I mean it cost God the life of Jesus to save us right? You have been to me, an express reflection of God’s love for His children. I thank you for every book you bought for me and every promise you fulfilled. It took a while to open up to you and that I regret because you’re such a listener. I don’t know what I was looking for in the world or where I was rushing to, but I thank God because like the prodigal child, we’ve found each other again.
In this job of fatherhood, you haven’t failed us. I pray to God that he crowns all your efforts with success in this lifetime of yours. I pray to God that we become everything and more that you hope for us to be. You have and will always be my hero, my first love…. If I ever had to choose a dad in another lifetime, I’d choose you over and over again. You and I were made for each other and I always thank God for your life.
Happy Father’s day…
Forever your girl,