Today I had a blue day although I tried profusely to be positive and as thankful as possible, it didn’t work; The frustrations of work, pain of loss and the general weariness of life left me feeling utterly overwhelmed and blue. Truth be told my family and I are in the process of planning my dad’s funeral and though I have ‘professionalised’ my way through organising it i.e. treating all the planning as though it’s my day job, it is impossible for me to remain unaffected; the prelude to the final goodbye hurts.
I began to reflect on how much I missed him even uttering the words ‘I love you and miss you’ on repeat whilst approaching his flat after work. And as if on cue, God sent a message to reassure me – a shop front called ‘Precious Memories’ glared back at me as if to say- ‘treasure those- that’s what matters’.
It was my turn to visit his home to ensure that it hadn’t been broken into and make it look ‘lived in’- deterring any potential thieves. The flat was in a state of disorder; my mum and sister had begun the painful process of dismantling his worldly goods and bagging them up to be received by their new owners. I have opted not to be part of this and thankfully they haven’t asked me to be. I hate mess even if it is towards a positive end but more significantly, I just can’t face going through his possessions and the finality of it all.
I began searching through his belongings and was particularly drawn to a beautiful leather briefcase which contained some of dad’s old paper work. What was inside truly was hidden treasure: historically important documents like an old Nigerian passport;ID from when he lived in America and the order of services for my beloved paternal Great Grandmother and Great grandfather were all in one place!
I also spotted a few beautifully weathered leather wallets and passport document holders –classic, quality items, some dating over 20 years. My dad loved quality over quantity and had a strategy for acquiring expensive, timeless goods at a fraction of the price. He would regularly visit the shop until he saw the desired item on sale; and even then he would wait until it was significantly reduced before buying it but not being so thrifty that he missed out on the opportunity all together!
Amongst the ruins I noticed a wallet stuffed with paper and being naturally curious, forensically inspected all its contents including dated receipts. What happened next truly was God at work. I took out an old piece of infantile looking paper covered in polka dots which I recognised from almost 20 years ago. Inside was a love letter I had written to my dad. I could have been no more than 12 at the time and 18 odd years later it remained. The message simply put was:
‘Dad I love you and you have a special place in my heart’.
Other treasures found included a little leather diary featuring a potted history of key Nigerian states / kingdoms accompanied with wonderful paintings of important historical figures. I couldn’t help but laugh remembering the times when my dad tried, on more than one occasion, to teach me about Nigerian history as a child; suffice to say it didn’t work as his ‘unique’ impassioned way of teaching (shouting out of frustration and passion) sometimes had the reverse effect even for the most eager student! Here is some of the artwork from the diary below:
The day brought such comfort and was a timely reminder that precious memories are the things which matter most and will be one of the keys to keeping my family and I on this painful journey of loss. But on a lighter note, I also learnt about the importance of investing in quality items- things that will stand the test of time that I can pass down onto my children; New Look just won’t cut it!