One of my earliest memories of you is sitting at that small dining table in that small flat we used to live in. I was in elementary school, and they had just taught us division. I was doing my homework at the table, and you were reading the newspaper or something (this was back when you used to buy the paper every day, before you switched to only buying on Saturdays & Sundays, and now you just read online lol). So there I was, working on my homework, following the long process of division they had taught us at school, and I stopped and asked you the answer to one of my questions, and you answered it immediately. It took me at least 3-5 minutes to solve one, and you called out the answer instantaneously. So I asked you another, you said the answer, I worked it out for myself, and you were right. So I asked you another. And another. And another. And I remember you smiling as you called out each correct answer. So finally I gave up & asked how you knew all the answers so quickly, and you said “when you grow up, you will too.” I remember it so clearly.
I must have been 5 or 6 years old then, 7 tops. And I still remember being in awe of my dad. You were like a superhero to me. Again, it’s something silly, but it’s typically the silly things that stay with me. Like mom telling me stories of you showing up in the hospital the morning I was born. Or how’d I’d wait to hear you come in the house and run to you shouting nna (daddy). I remember you taking us to Mr. Biggs on Sundays after we left the cathedral, and how you’d always get the sausage, something you still do till this day (whenever you’re unfortunate enough to walk into a Mr. Biggs outlet). I remember how upset you’d be when we came 2nd in class. Or when we messed with that old TV we had, and you had to “tune” it all over again. I remember my baby brother taking his first steps, and you being the one to catch him when he finally fell over.
But I also remember the bad. How frustrated you were that your brilliant first son just didn’t like school. You used to say “you’re a genius Uche, and a genius can do anything he wants to do” and I disagreed with that definition of genius (still do lol). Everyone always said how similar we were, not just in the way we looked but in the way we acted. Which is why it used to baffle me how we could be so similar and yet so different. I have hurt you, disappointed you, and upset you, and through it all, I have never for once doubted that you loved me. I remember how bad our relationship was at some point, and I am sooooooo thankful for how good it is today, even when we disagree.
I don’t say this lightly, but I would be more than content if I turned out to be half the man you are. I have watched you be an amazing father, sibling, friend, mentor, and above all, an amazing husband. I told you a few weeks ago that I sometimes wish you got an “easier” son. I meant it. Sometimes, it feels like you don’t deserve the son you got. But God must’ve known most other fathers would probably have just killed/disowned me ages ago. So here’s to you, dad. Thanks for not giving up on me.
Happy birthday father, you will always be my hero.