As I get older, I get smarter and it scares me. I understand situations and decisions better than I did when I was kid and although I know that this is inevitably the course of nature, it still catches me off guard when it happens. One of the biggest revelations I have had in the past year is that as much as parents spend their lives trying to protect their children from pain, hurt, anger and any negativity, so it seems that children are born with an innate sense to protect their parents from ill. Of course there are exceptions to the rule like the Menendez brothers but for the most part, we all seem to follow that same pattern.
It is my utmost wish to dance to Luther Vandross‘ song Dance with my father with my father. From the first moment I heard that song, I knew I wanted to be able to dance to that song with my daddy. Stereotypically, I know that it would be a perfect song to dance with my father at my wedding but because I am very cynical and jaded about marriage, I knew that would be a stretch. Not helping matters for the event to happen at some other random social engagement, is the fact that my dad and I live on two different continents and therefore that’s a no go as well. I still keep hope alive that it will happen someday but until then, my daddy and I will keep dancing to this song in my head.
My dad is a surgeon who chose to move to Cameroon and practice there rather than stay in the US. While in college I would day dream about how different my life would have been had my dad stayed in the US: a BMW for me, no petty dorm experiences to contend with as I would have purchased a condo to live in, several credit cards for emergencies and non-emergencies in my name or maybe better yet in his name…the day dreams go on and on and on. When I allow myself brief moments of clarity, I know that despite and maybe because of the fact that my dad is very unassuming and seeks no glory, he made that decision in part for what he could do to better a society without and not for how much wealth he could gather on earth.
After almost 6 years apart, I recently went to visit my dad. Because I had not seen him in so long, my mother and I decided to surprise him. No one but my mother knew I would be visiting and it caused a brief moment of panic when I arrived at the airport and she was nowhere to be found. As we drove home, my mum could not help but call her friend to share the news that I was there and she mentioned that my dad was unaware of my arrival. Her friend cautioned us to prep him as she feared my dad might pass out from the shock of seeing me. When we got to the house, my mum had me wait at the door of their bedroom while she went in first. I heard her say “Your daughter is here” and he replied” Who?” She repeated herself and I could only imagine his reaction. He was probably looking at her like she was crazy as he had no reason to believe I was around. I then walked into the room and found him sitting up on the bed in his favourite position watching TV. I could see the emotions play out on his face: surprise, disbelief, shock, happiness. As I walked towards him, he continued to stare at me simply following my progress towards him with his eyes. Once I got to his side, he finally got up and hugged me. He pulled away, stared at me for a few seconds and then hugged me again before resuming his previous position while pulling a cap over his eyes as there were tears in his eyes. If I ever wondered whether my dad loved me, today I knew for sure. Being the first, I have always been taught to be tough for my siblings but I could not help getting choked up myself seeing my dad tear up at seeing me for the first time in almost 6 years. For the rest of my life, no matter what I am going through, that moment will always bring me joy.