Mercure Hotel, Sorbonne.
Letter to my father on his 70th birthday.
I had planned to write this to you today and deliver it to you in person but on the morning of 26th May last year my mother told me that you had left us all behind the night before on a journey. A journey you told me (3 years before) was closer to you than the journey you had already made.
I remember 20 years ago on this same day when you turned 50 and I was overjoyed. I shared the news with the wife of a relative with whom I was living with in Lagos at that time. Her response changed my life because she asked what you had achieved at 50? Broken home, no grandchildren … She asked what was there to celebrate?
I decided on that day never to have a broken home and also never to allow any of my children live with relatives and suffer humiliation. I did not realize at that time that she was wrong, that you had achieved much more than anyone at that age and did not have to prove anything to anyone. You were only going through one of the phases in life where God provides a valuable lesson and a better outcome.
You lived life by your own rules and many men we think are great were not half the man you were. There are things I discovered after you passed that made me realize how far ahead you had planned for those you love while depriving yourself of luxury.
You fought for what was right and never wavered even when the benefits of some of those fights were not going to change you and only came after you had passed on. I will always learn from the life you lived never to give up fighting for what is right even when everyone else says “give up”.
You passed away at 69 and lived a full life. You already had everything that those who mocked you did not believe you would have and more. You just did not believe in making a spectacle for the public. Your life changed and you were blessed beyond measure after you came back to find God and worshipped him like no man I have ever known. You always made me remember that and I also changed my ways. I saw the result in my own life.
I still remember our conversations and how you would end it always in prayer, deep and fervent prayer of a man who loved his creator deeply and beyond the ordinary. There is no doubt in my mind now that you are at peace with the creator and we will all unite at the appointed time but it still hurts not to have you here today to celebrate the full life you have lived.
In a few months I will follow the steps you encouraged me regularly to and will go on a journey that would have made you proud. As I go on this journey, I will not only learn from the mistakes you made but will always have God as my partner and counsel as you had instructed.
We had planned to have a big party for you at 60 but you were in hospital at that time and now at 70 you have left us for the bigger party in heaven.
I will always remember our last conversation and how it ended on a happy note and will forever remember you happy. I will continue to live everyday as a celebration of your life.
I miss you Sir.