Saturday, January 26, 2013

Another year, a Fresh Start

2013 has started off on high speed gear for me. My father turns 80 this year and it kind of crept up on me. I can't believe so much time has gone by. In the past 6 years, living away from Nigeria, the time spent with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews is very precious. Once December rolls around, I eagerly get on that flight to Lagos.

2013 is a very special year for me, it's the year I become a mother. I am about to adopt the most beautiful little girl. She is a gift and a blessing and since March 31st, 2012 I have been on an incredible life-changing journey. The past year has been one of soul searching, inward reflection, hard lessons, wise counsel from some really wonderful people, and lots of encouragement and love from friends and strangers alike.

I am learning every day not to take myself too seriously. I have been very fortunate in my parents (my first and life long teachers), my wonderful sister, my brothers, my girlfriends, colleagues at work, my mentors, my male friends, my school mates, people I grew up with and my past relationships. My father set the example for me of what to look for in a man; qualities like kindness, compassion, friendship, empathy, wisdom, generosity, fairness, love, caring, intelligence, gentleness, open-mindedness, tolerance and respect. And I have been extremely lucky to have been in relationships with some very special men.

My father is a good person and I love him very much for everything he is to my mother, my siblings and myself. For teaching me to love beautiful things, for introducing me to classical music, opera, theater, dance and the visual arts. For teaching me tolerance, to embrace multiple views, to see the world not as I want to but as it is and to appreciate and accept the differences between myself and other people. To acknowledge diversity and see the value that our differences bring to the world. To have empathy for suffering and to give comfort where possible with just a smile, a kind word a touch.

But the greatest gift my father has given us is to be accepting of situations that you can't change and to adapt with grace, my father suffered a stroke in February of 2007, going on 7 years now. His life changed dramatically from being a healthy active man to depending on other people for a majority of things he did for himself.  In that time, he has never made us feel burdened, he has peacefully accepted his limitations and it is such a pleasure to spend time with him. His wit is still as sharp as ever and even though he drifts off now and again, nothing gets past him.

It is a great honor, pride and privilege to be the daughter of this man. He is not a saint but to me he is a wonderful father, we have had our moments but they only served to strengthen our relationship. My father doesn't bear grudges. He has a deep understanding of human nature and generally takes people as they are.

I hope I can give my daughter everything my parents gave me and more.

As we celebrate my father's 80th year, his life and work in the arts as an artist, educator and cultural activist, I look back proudly at what he has achieved in his lifetime and I know he has no regrets, he has lived his life exactly the way he wanted to and he achieved what he set out to achieve.

No comments: