As a girl, my adoration automatically goes to my father. I am blessed that I had a father worthy of that adoration. He was no saint, mark you. I remember several of his very human faults, but above all I remember all the good stuff.
I remember lessons he taught me in finance – you have to work to earn; in self confidence – he always told me how sharp and beautiful I am; in survival – Carol, for as long as you have a brain in your head, you will never sleep hungry; in cookery – how to make a killer burger; in hostessing – how to serve a beer and 2 fingers of whisky; in driving – imagine that all other drivers on the road are lunatics and you should be safe on the road. These are all ¬†lessons that I carry with me to date and that have served me well to this day .I remember particularly his lesson in keeping time. If my dad asked you to meet him somewhere at 9 o’clock, he would be there at 8:50, wait till 8:55 and leave. When I complained about it, he told me that if I was not there at 8:55 surely I had no intention to be on time. To this day I arrive at my appointments at least 10 minutes early.

This piece may be about lessons from my father and I would be doing a great injustice to my roots if I failed to mention some lessons from my father’s father. I am the first grandchild on my dad’s side of the family and my grandfather and I had a really deep connection. We got along great. As a little 10 year old, I had just started getting interested in american movies and little sponge that I was, I picked up everything including their poor pronunciation of words. My grandfather suddenly became hard of hearing when I used words such as ‘I dunno’, ‘I wanna’ and drummed it into me that a person who cannot pronounce right should not bother with the language. As a result, my language skills improved.

More recently, I heard a lesson from my friend’s dad that echoed my grandfather’s; he said that a person who could not speak a language properly was just plain lazy. He said it so categorically that it shocked me, but on reflection, I saw his point. If I want to communicate in a language I have an obligation to learn it correctly.

Back to my own father… I also learnt from his mistakes. I saw him hang on to life in the city long after we could no longer afford to live there. As a result, we got broke fast and faced some really tough times. I know the importance of living within your means. I also learnt that all those things that we believe are a ‘must-have’ are only ‘good-to-haves’; we survived on very little for a very long time. I have no hang-ups, I can live in a mud hut and eat ugali every day if necessary.

My dad loved music and I learned how to appreciate music from him. I can appreciate music from all manner of genres: reggae, rock, blues, country, afro and others whose names I don’t know. I listen to songs about fathers and daughters and remember my own father fondly, flaws and all… I especially love Dance with my father by Luther Vandross – for anyone who has lost your father, lie to me and tell me that this song does not bring tears to your eyes.

I loved my dad dearly. He may be gone, but his lessons are here with me and he lives on as I impart them to my children (biological or otherwise).

Thanks Dad!