DAD STORIES: My father is my guiding candle

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By MUTHONI ODUOR

I don’t think I’m much of a writer but my father would inspire me to give it a go. I have always had some form of reverence for him.

Truth be told, dad is a typical African man. I recently joked with my friends that during my childhood I knew dad loved me from his actions not his words. But, like the wise man he is, he has changed, and he makes effort to say, “Your mother and I are proud of you, we love you Mercy” and can punctuate it with a hug.

Notwithstanding my father’s love for my mother was and still is unrivalled. Hats off to the man who managed to inculcate admirable family values in the hearts of his children right from day one.

I have beautiful memories of a man who over the years has sacrificed comforts, dreams and luxuries to see his children have the best in life. My father didn’t go to university, though he had the opportunity and pondered it during his career. He, however, chose not to go because , as any loving father would do, my brother had just finished high school and needed to join university. I have numerous childhood memories. I am a fourth-born in a family of six. While Mum prepared breakfast, dad would put us in the bathtub and scrub as clean. He would then proceed to styling our hair in a semi-mohawk. He would buy my sisters and me fancy hair bows, which we would flaunt in school.

He worked far away from home but shuttled to see us every weekend. He would carry a packet of Eclairs and roasted groundnuts for us, and we couldn’t wait at home—  we would go and sit at the stage in the phoneless era, watching all public vehicles from Nakuru until he emerged.

He never disappointed, he always came with a tired smiling face. I could write about many heart-warming memories, but it won’t do justice if I don’t mention my father’s zeal to get us educated.

Dad dutifully checked our report forms, and woe unto you if the teacher mentioned you were a noisemaker. Second to the Christian values inculcated in our lives, Dad dutifully ensured he educated his children up to university though he had been laid off at an early age.

Fast-forward to my career life and now I’m an independent woman. I remember calling my Dad telling him I wasn’t sure I should enroll for my master’s degree. To say the least, he was dismayed.

“You should have enrolled like yesterday,” he said. That was the decision clincher.

The calls began as soon as I stepped into class, he never forgot to ask how the lectures were faring. He pushed me to keep attending classes even when my job was too demanding and I thought the only option was to quit. He seemed more interested in that certificate than I was, and he saw in me resilience I couldn’t see. Bless his heart, I like to think that his name should be printed on the graduation certificate, not mine. My success and career life is literally a product of his words of wisdom, encouragement and persistence.

Born and bred in Nyeri, my father supported with no qualms my relationship with my husband, who happens to come from Nyanza. I’m sure he did his own background checks, but not once did he frown on my choice. He trusted my decision, his support was unparalleled, and for that I am forever grateful. Your love is my guiding candle. Happy Father’s Day, Wilson Kiumi Wambugu.

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