Hello dear reader, hope you’ve been having a great month. Today’s post is about a relationship that I have had and lost and miss a lot.
All my friends in secondary school knew about my big daddy Abakaliki, I talked about him to anyone who cared to listen. Big daddy was my father’s uncle, the closest to him. He was the grandfather that I had, I love to think I was his favorite, I always looked forward to holidays in Abakaliki, where I didn’t have to be a first daughter, where I was the last born, the only girl and got a lot of attention.
Fast forward to my admission into the university, big daddy was always there though he didn’t really like my course of study (he was very concerned about what would become of me after studying philosophy), he would call to ask for my results, to ask if my pocket money was still there, to ensure that I’d be spending the holidays in Abakaliki with him, he would call my dad and mum to remind them to release his daughter to him.
Whenever I was in Abakaliki, I was literally big daddy’s suitcase, I went with him everywhere, to the hospital for check up, to the mechanic, to the church, to the airport to pick big mummy, to the supermarkets where I got to pick whatever I wanted, my comfort was priority.
Big daddy was my friend, that kind of special elderly friendship that I have not come across again. He would tell me about his life, about our village, about my immediate ancestors that I did not meet, about how he didn’t really agree with “idupu ogo” (initiation of the male children into manhood), he would tell me when my uncles annoy him, we shared little gossips, he always left fish for me whenever he ate.
Big daddy was a happy man, he took pictures of his food with his iPad, he said we’d publish a book about his diet, he had a very healthy diet, he loved to play golf too.
Big daddy had a snail farm, he was very passionate about those snails, they were large snails, he’d rather eat snails from the market than touch his precious snails.
Big daddy had a fabulous marriage with big mummy. I watched them talk together, laugh together, pray together, play Scrabble together, work together (big daddy always prided that he was retired and now his wife’s employee), they obviously had a beautiful friendship and I prayed for such a happy marriage.
Let me quickly share two lessons i learnt from big daddy in one day;
It was a Monday morning, we were going to the store, I sat with him in front while he drove, I busied myself with a chilled can of malt, I finished it and threw the can out the window. Big daddy stopped the car and made me go down to pick the can, then he said to me “if everyone starts throwing trash on the road what would the city look like? Keep the can till we see a dustbin or get home”. Till today, I can’t throw trash on the ground without feeling guilty, I’d rather hold on to it, if you check my bag sometimes, you’d see sweet and chewing gum wraps.
Just before we got to the store, the car developed a fault, we had a flat tyre and he quickly called the mechanic to come and fix it, there was a spare in the trunk. Then he said to me “in life, you should always have a plan B”. It took me some time to realize that the plan B was the spare in the trunk. That shaped my preparation towards things.
Big daddy was a wonderful man, I cherished my relationship with him so much. And then…he left…without any warning… suddenly…in the twinkling of an eye… like a movie…he checked out.
Sunday, October 5th 2015 . A day that has stuck in my memory.
There were just four of us in the house that Sunday, big daddy, big mummy, my cousin Ndukwe and I. Both big daddy and big mummy worshiped in the Methodist church but in separate parishes. Ndukwe and i often went with big mummy to her parish while big daddy went alone to the bigger parish at Onwe Road.
Just like every other Sunday, we returned from church and I served lunch, we had rice, beans, stew and fish. We were all in the sitting room, big mummy worked on her laptop, big daddy and Ndukwe were glued to the television, there was a Chelsea and Arsenal match going on and being uninterested in the match, I focused on my food. Big daddy was happy, he was a Chelsea fan and Chelsea was winning the match. Some minutes later, he left for his room while I cleared the dishes, then he opened the door to his room and called big mummy, I knew he opened the door because it was a metal door and it made sounds when moved. Big mummy quickly went to heed his call, the moment she opened the door, she screamed, I had never heard her scream before, for a second I froze, then the plate I was holding dropped from my hands and I ran to the room with Ndukwe right behind me.
It all happened too fast, big daddy was lying down and struggling for breath, big mummy was in tears as she administered CPR, I had never seen her so distraught, had never been so confused, my hands shook as I dialed the doctor’s number on the phone, he lived few blocks away, Ndukwe ran out to call big daddy’s friend who lived very close by. The doctor arrived, Ndukwe arrived almost immediately with big daddy’s friend and other people, some neighbors arrived too. I caught a glimpse of big daddy as they carried him to the car, his eyes were shut, he was still, he looked lifeless and that freaked me out, ‘God forbid it, my big daddy will not die’ I muttered to myself. The sun was out and hot but I felt cold. I was not allowed to go with them to the hospital, maybe because I was the youngest, I was left alone in the house. It was a very terrifying moment, I couldn’t go inside the house, I was very afraid, I sat on the stairs outside and waited, and cried, and prayed, and threw up some of the food I ate some minutes ago.
After what seemed like eternity, they drove in, some of our family members who lived in Abakaliki came along this time, but big daddy was not with them. Even before big mummy hugged me and told me that my big daddy was gone, I knew that he was gone, never to come back again.
The house was full, news spread quickly, everyone was shocked, everyone was sad, big mummy kept saying that she should be woken from the bad dream. I wondered how big mummy would cope without big daddy because those two, they were one. Truly it seemed like a dream, surreal, big daddy’s picture was put outside with a condolence register, it still felt like a movie, how does someone wake up hale and hearty on a Sunday morning, go to church and return all smiles, relax happily in his house on Sunday afternoon and then be in the mortuary by evening? I was dazed, but then it was real, my friend and big daddy was gone to be with the Lord, without saying goodbye, a little too early if you ask me. I was comforted with the fact that he lived a good and happy life, anyone who really knew big daddy would tell that he was a happy and cheerful person, I was also comforted with the fact that big daddy was a devout christian. Like Apostle Paul said;
2 Corinthians 5:8 (AMP) ,” Yes we have confidence and hopeful courage and are pleased rather to be away from home out of the body and be at home with the Lord” .
I was comforted in the fact that he had only gone to be with the Lord till we meet again. Life is a precious gift, even as we hustle and run around to make money and build estates, remember to live to the full, be happy like my big daddy, have a sweet relationship with God and be kind to people. We’d all die one day eventually, and when that happens, life goes on, the world continues, what remains is the impact that we make on people’s lives, they could be good or bad, it’s always best to be remembered for good. So, dear reader, this is one of the beautiful relationships that I have had and lost, yet, like always life remains beautiful. Have you lost relationships too? how did you deal with them?