For 14 years I was a single parent of four children. On Father’s day my children, friends and family often gave me gifts, cooked for me, and did other things to show their love for me and the work it takes to do both jobs. Single parents deserve double honor and I will always give them that. I doth not possess a lone fuck for the people who think they can dictate how any one else traverses the land mine of this day.
I was never sad on Father’s Day and then my Papa died. He has officially been gone for a year now. The painful part is if he were alive we still would have been separated by more than oceans and expensive airline tickets. He was absent for 12 years of my childhood and MIA most of my adult life. You would think that by now I would have grown accustomed to missing him.
A friend posted on Facebook to share your favorite memory of your father if you had one. I sat at my desk began to weep silently. I have a treasure trove of good memories, before the divorce, before I ended up in the U.S. with my mom, before north Tulsa, before it all fell apart. I also have the saving grace of reconnecting with him as an adult.
Our relationship was complicated and full of wounds and wishes but I want to hold space today for the good. Can I share with you one of my childhood memories and one as an adult? Im going to anyway.
This is Badagry Beach in Nigeria. When I was kid my Dad and I sat on this shore eating suya fresh out of the flames with raw onions and tomatoes. It is my absolute favorite food in the world. He knows/ knew that and always I sat on the shoreline and dug my hands and feet into the sand and let the breaking waves wash over me. Afterwards my Papa let me sip some of his palm wine. I loved that day. I can grasp it whenever I need to. It is mine in ways he could not always be.
My final memory took place in 2015. When I went back to Nigeria for my Grandfathers burial. The entire family was seated at the head table at the reception hall. I was an Omenai among Omenais. Which is something no one but an Omenai will understand. Not alone but one of the cherished. Surrounded by everyone who came to honor my grandfather Henry Osime Omenai. My father and I danced together for what I did not know would be the last time. Dancing with my father meant everything to me and I will grasp that moment when the waves of sorrow wash ashore.
Why didn’t you come save me, Papa, when you could? Is the question that haunted me everyday of my life up until his death. Here are the things I know for certain my Papa loved me. He called me his prizefighter or champion in every letter. I love that. He gave me this name that makes me straightens my spine, hold my head high and demand respect. He loved me. His wounds were as deep as my own and we both found peace.
I spent today making bourbon chicken and peach cobbler from scratch with Justin, all the girls, and Lord. We laughed loud, held each other tight, and no one mentioned the phantom limb. I cried when I needed to. I also danced and created art. I even managed a nap. This day is full of dueling emotions for many. May comfort cover you in all the ways you need it. May love overflowing lift you today whether you are celebrating, in mourning or both like myself.
I’m with you always,