WHO is the great father? That would be my own Dad, said a friend when we discussed the celebration of Mother’s and Father’s days.
I was barely one year-old when my mother passed away after a Caesarian Section. My mother left behind six older brothers and sisters; that made seven of us. My immediate senior sister was three years old at the time so we were sent to live with my father’s only sister until we were old enough to stay with our father.
When I was old enough to understand, I noticed that every holidays with exception of the mid-term break, my father would come and take us to spend the vacation with him because my older siblings who were all in boarding school would be at home; they were close in their ages so there all in the secondary school at the same time. The first son was especially brilliant so he was in higher school before the two elder sisters.
I enjoyed my early years because my father and siblings took good care of us at the least opportunity they had. I cherish those memories of my father making small toys like kites for me. I developed the reading habit. He encouraged me to read by browsing through his library very early; I went into cartons loaded with books that were read in schools before I was born and he loved that. He was a great organist and he thought me songs in his spare time.
I can still remember the shock and anger that went through our house one holiday; a cousin had sent me a book, we had never met, but from what my sister told her, she gave me a book-I can’t remember the title now, but it was about seven year year-old Julie. But everyone said that the picture of the girl at the cover and the story was similar to my behavior although she was a white girl. I loved the book and agreed that I could relate to her adventures because I enjoyed my play in our vast garden regardless of if I had company or not.
The problem though was that when that book was unwrapped the first time and handed to me to read it first, I could not and stumbled through the words at seven years of age. That was I became a project in our house; my sister and I. In my school, I was always at the top of the class and I passed the English language well; but my lack of confidence shocked them all.
Suffice it to say that at the end of the week, I was reading through copies of Reader’s Digest and poetry no matter the level unaided.
My sewing is rudimentary even today; manually, I mend all my clothes-a shame, I must say because it was at that stage when my father passed on when I was ten years and in primary five. How did my sewing begin? I was bored one evening and was making a lot of noise at home.
My father who was in study came out and scolded me and sat me on the dining table. He then ordered my cousin to bring out the sewing kit, we had them at home because my sisters did not only use the sewing machine, but they made clothes manually. They made clothes which I wore with their hands. And I was showing a passing interest in making clothes. But that evening, he made my cousin to teach me how to darn the dress I wore that evening-it had a little tear. He made her to teach me how to trace patterns and embroider designs on a handkerchief.
My father passed on two years after we went back to live with him. I was ten but the gulf he left in our lives is still there because he gave his all attention to the well being of his children. He did not criticize our aunt’s way of training us and I think that he made my senior ones to never broach that subject.
My aunt on the hand would lament that my father refused to remarry after my mother passed on. She has three children herself, so she would also wonder why my mother had so many children and still wanted more. On her opinion of his remarriage, I still do not see what it could have done for his children; for his benefit of a companion. I am sure. But I suspect that he wanted to train his children before doing that; I am sure he would have remarried if he had met a great woman.
My father was that great man because even my cousins, virtually all the teenage ones, spent their holidays in our house. I say too that whatever would have happened in our family after both my parents’ death did not because there was no woman in the place of my mother. It may have happened because my mother was absent-I speak out of conviction- so the two of them could not jointly take part in raising the children they brought into this world.
It does not however mean that I am blind to what happens in the other homes where children are being jointly brought up by their natural parents. I know that some couples’ behavior bother on competition for the love of their children. I have seen too that when a mother and father drift apart in a relationship, that it would be a miracle to see a situation where the children would not be on the side of the mother, for example because she is the one who is likely to take care of them when they are ill.
Although I did not experience my mother and father raising us jointly, but from what my senior ones say and the numerous family photographs, it would have been blissful. I could never imagine my father leaving his parental roles because my mother was available.
Our opinion is that it is a join responsibility and offspring benefit when both are involved. Studies have proved that such children do well in their studies; they express themselves better and can make relationships easily.