Sunday, 28 February 2016

Dad's Passing

In memory of Prince Adeyeye Oduniyi (1936 - 2015)
Author, First A-Z Map Of Lagos c1975

Almost nine months have passed since I last wrote here. So much has happened. My dad died last December. I travelled to Nigeria for his burial earlier this month. Dad was ill for several years. It was heartbreaking to see him become a shadow of his former self. The last time I saw my dad was in December 2013. I did not entertain the thought that it would be the last time I would see him. I guess I took it for granted that he would always be there. Perhaps I was in denial.

I had developed something like a split personality since dad became ill with dementia. I hated that dementia was slowly taking him away from my family and I. In the same breath I would pray for dad's release from the terrible illness which left him a stranger in his own body. Dementia robbed us twice. It robbed dad of everything, then took him away from us.

When it got to the last rites it hit hard more than any of us could have imagined. As mum, siblings, relatives and friends gathered at the graveside, I had no idea how events would unfold. Mum put the earth in first. She cried and called dad's name. My older sister took her turn. She held her composure like a first born who would want to be strong for her younger siblings. For a moment it seemed calm had returned to the proceedings.

Lying in state at the Wake Keeping

Mum's last rites

Mum turning away as she heard 'someone' wailing 

Then I heard this person wailing like a banshee. I did not recognise her at first. It was a primitive, raw rendering; like a gash stripping the eardrums. I just wanted her to be quiet. She'd asked: "How many times do I have to do this?" She was referring to the sprinkling of earth on the coffin. She'd already done it once. It was the second sprinkling that precipitated the wailing. It was as if she finally accepted that this was it. He was not coming back. On the third and final rite of releasing the earth between her fingers, she let out her last wail like it threatened to rip her apart if she did not open her mouth.
Sis, mum and bro leading the funeral procession at close of service, Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral Lagos

For as long as I can remember, I deal with pain and loss through a kind of protective dissociation. I realised as I let go of that final piece of earth that it was okay to let dad go. It was not the end but another beginning. That dad is at rest is of great comfort. Feeling that the man who helped bring me into the world is in another realm smiling and rooting for me makes me happy and thankful. The flag bearer passed the beacon to us, his children. I can only hope that when it is my turn to pass it on, my children would appreciate the honour conferred on them and let go of that final piece of earth with a spring in their step. 

PS: Cant find any of dad's pics that I last took with him but I've asked my bro to send some over. Just wanted to do this post before it's too late:(

2 comments :

  1. May your dad's soul rest in peace *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Tee. Thanks for being here and for your support. Hope you're good. I'm back:-)

      Delete