02 May My Father’s Face
Losing a parent as a child can be devastating – Prince Harry in his tour of Africa documentary compares the death of his mother, the late Princess Diana to a wound that festers. Although initially, due to the carefree nature of infancy, one may not grasp the immediate absence of a parent, as years go by, there is undeniably a vacuum that grows and perhaps forever remains empty. More especially as a teenager longing for validation and approval with raging hormones. There are conversations that one may only have with their father, or personal moments where I would have given the world for both of my parents to be present – as first hand witnesses.
Last year as I graduated from Oxford University, I wished my father was right there with me, to see what I had accomplished, and give me a pat on the back. I am eternally grateful to my mother, of course. She has been phenomenal and rock solid, raising four kids by herself, providing, listening and playing dual roles as mum and dad, is unmatchable. For Rio Ferdinand, when his wife succumbed to breast cancer, Rio like many other widowers and widows was also an outspoken single parent until he recently re-married. My mother however, has been taller than Rio, defending us and tackling our threats away. Making sure our consciences were a clean sheet. An ever-imposing figure who has always been behind our backs and directed us with love. But still, sometimes, I can’t help but imagine, where my father is, how he’d be if he were here today, and if I turned out as he hoped I would.
Each year I reminisce about my father. As children we learn a lot of things from our parents. They introduce to us this new world, which undoubtedly seems challenging at first sight. Most babies cry out loud when they emerge from their mother’s womb. Gary Chapman, says that children need to be filled with love, and that this love contributes to the normal development of a child. Indeed, at the heart of most humans, is the earnest desire to be loved, especially for a baby who comes out of the womb and sees light for the first time in such an unfamiliar world where they now have to breathe on their own. Perhaps that is why we grow fond of those who have conceived us. We seek to understand this world, by relying on those, who have made us. Certainly so, my father and mother played a pivotal role to the person I am today.
Although, I have benefited from the legacy of my father and one could assume that he was Martin Luther King Jr, he wasn’t, and neither was he a saint. As a journalist turned politician, my father must have bruised a few shoulders on his way up. I have heard some interesting accounts about him, but I would not be a great son if I dwelt on his flaws, posthumously. After all, as humans we are not free from flaws, it is perhaps the most consistent of all human characteristics, imperfection.