Life Lessons From Daddy At Sunset

When I was younger, I had this mental image of my dad as a huge rock, able to withstand whatever life threw on his path. Now older me simply marvel at the extraordinary man that my dad is. I have watched him navigate through very difficult situations with his head held up high. When I was in junior secondary school, my eldest brother gained admission into the university. The added tuition put my father into some kind of financial constraint and for the first time, our school fees were delayed. It was in the midst of this that his workshop was demolished by a gas pipeline rigging company where he lost everything. How he managed to stay sane during this period is something to be studied. Interestingly, I don't remember him complaining once about the situation, instead, he quietly and determinedly picked up the pieces and started afresh. I once failed an important examination and I was mad at the exam body. I thought I deserved better at first and with that thinking came doubts about my intelligence. I eventually spiraled down a black hole of anger, negative self-esteem, and shame. My dad helped me overcome this by continually encouraging me, sharing experiences of similar things he faced, and how he was able to defeat these feelings. In the not-so-distant past, my favorite time of the day was the late evenings when we would gather in front of the house and just converse. My dad usually told stories, sometimes he shared the experiences he had growing up, other times he told riddles and folklores. It didn't matter which though, we were sure to gain a moral lesson that resonated deeply within us. It would set us thinking and we would gaze at the stars, imagining things we would have done differently if we were the characters in the story. The days he shared his life stories always had me feeling a myriad of emotions; sadness that he experienced these things, happiness that he overcame the challenges, and hope that no challenge is insurmountable. He had a tough life growing up and had to do odd jobs to survive, he had to drop out of school at some point but didn't let his lack of formal education deter him from accomplishing his dreams. I think back to these times anytime I have challenges and feel like quitting, drawing strength from him to remind myself that I am the daughter of a man who simply refused to quit. One evening, we took our seats in the compound as usual when the orange glow of the sun had faded, leaving luxuriant darkness in its wake. I can't remember how the conversation got around to this but something my dad said that night struck me deeply and has stayed with me ever since. He said he ran into a relative who marveled at his appearance and told him that If he had known that he(my dad) would turn out this way, he would have supported him while he was growing up. I could tell these words hurt my dad. I know he said it to encourage us that while people may not always think our dreams are valid, it's entirely up to us to turn them into reality. I couldn't help but think of how easier his journey could have been having he received support. As a grown-up now, I finally understand the message he passed that night, that absolutely nobody owes me anything. #writingcontest

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