I’ve made it my business to observe fathers and daughters. And I’ve seen some incredible, beautiful things. Like the little girl who’s not very cute – her teeth are funny, and her hair doesn’t grow right, and she’s got on thick glasses – but her father holds her hand and walks with her like she’s a tiny angel that no one can touch. He gives her the best gift a woman can get in this world: protection. And the little girl learns to trust the man in her life. And all the things that the world expects from women – to be beautiful, to soothe the troubled spirit, heal the sick, care for the dying, send the greeting card, bake the cake – all of those things become the way we pay the father back for protecting us.
My father died three years ago. On that day and the many days that followed I was inundated with messages of condolences and the one thing I knew my family was anticipating. My return home. Everyone assumed I would drop everything and fly out for the funeral. The day he died was the day we had submitted our documents to the Home Office, though it may have been possible to apply for emergency travel documents it was not an option for me because I didn’t think it had worth the delaying everything we had started here to make the journey back home, he was gone and one more body sitting in the front pew was not going to change that.
I had a strange relationship with my father. At times it was toxic because of my fear of being a failure and the pressure to be the best at whatever I did, at times strained. We were like two rams butting heads, he loved controlling every situation and so did I, my mother often told me we were so much alike that’s why we didn’t get along. It was more than that, our emotional character got the best of both of us. The space we shared was like a void, an abyss that sucked the life out of you, everyone in his presence spoke with quiet tones of obedience, something I was never able to do, though my words often choke when they came out they were like shards of glass, cold and icy. He knew which buttons to push and when to push them. I knew when to walk away, though on many occasions I stood my ground, a sign of my stubbornness he always said. Now I can laugh at those moments, they are the moments that built my resilience. My superpower of meeting challenges head-on.
My times I write about my mother and grandmother, the lessons they taught me, the values they instilled in me. Despite our indifference, my father and I got along as well as male parent and female child. Each of us respected our mirrored personalities and lately, he’s been on my mind, lot echoes of him stirring in my head. Some make me chuckle, so of them cast me into deep thought wondering why these echoes would surface years after they were neatly filed away. Maybe those shadows of him are his way of saying, I’m proud of you! I’m happy you didn’t let the world grind you to ash! Do I regret not going home to his funeral? No! Whatever we wanted to say to each other was said a long time ago and respects paid before my leaving home. My only hope for him is that he had a peaceful transition and his final days were filled with happiness.
This is my contribution to Debbie’s Forgiving Friday series, where she writes about and invite others to share their reflections on Forgiveness, Self-Love and Personal Growth. Thank you, Debbie Roth, I am eternally grateful to you for allowing me to contribute to your blog.
©Ettta D Richards