The day he died we were all at home.
It was my turn to look after him. We had left the hospital late the night before.His brother had visited to give him Holy Communion. He tolerated that, he even spoke a little. We thought at the time that we had passed the worst. He was on the mend. Finally. Little did we know that was his goodbye to us. We fought cancer. It was not easy.
That was seventeen years ago. He would have turned eighty years today. Since he passed, we have learnt and experienced a couple of things. We learnt most importantly that his friends were not true friends. Most of them abandoned the family right after the funeral. Over the years, it seemed they were callous. They probably were. But, it could also have been that they had issues with their own families too. Maybe they were just busy.
They are not that important to be fair, life takes us all out one at a time. When life takes a father away, one is inconsolable. Some friends lobbied to enrich themselves at the family's expense. It seemed like a script out of Nigeria's Nollywood. But, it happened. Dare say, it is still happening. Dad left no friends. No family. Save mum and us.
Again. His family? Its best to say, mum's family stayed true. Save for an aunt here and an uncle, on his side, dad's family did not seem to know how to support.
The things death does to us.
It does not really matter. We become stronger right? Even daddy Remi would not have predicted the betrayals.
In his absence, there has been graduations, births, parties, celebrations and of course days like this when you remember it was his birthday. You are no longer forced to remember him. These days, because you have your own kids, you want to honour his memory. We honour your memory. We are all hard working, women of integrity, devoted to our families and living our lives as we understand it. This is how we understand honouring his memory. Our lives are honourable.
We have laid to rest conflicts that came because of his death. The drama that came with his passing. Then the appearance of the secret child and the lawsuit. You want him to rest in peace. But, you are paying millions to lawyers to settle a court case you didn't start.
Daddy Remi, if only you knew.
The best bit about today, your birthday is the fact that we can look around and remember. We can remember the lessons you taught us. The Bible verses you shared with us, your proverbs and your minimalistic approach to life. You were meant never to die. You gave to each of us a rugged attitude, you didn't make our lives easy even though you could have. That toughness has equipped us for life.
You live in each of us: in my sister's smile, in the meanings behind shared messages on the family's WhatsApp group, in songs.
We didn't think we would get to a place where tears are no longer flowing. We are here now. We have made our peace with your passing. We have combed through your life, holding on to the lessons, the proverbs. The pain of your absence is negligible.
But you live on. In the small moments. In our hearts. Forever.
Sunre Re, Omo Oba Aderemi Olumlade Adeyemo (1938 -2001)