I want you to appreciate the love that envelopes you daily. A parent’s love knows no bounds and is infinite. Understand that you are important to them and no matter what transpires between you and them, their love for you never ends.
I’m not the first to lose a father, nor will I ever be the last. There is no way for me to discredit the intensity of such a loss [to you] because losing a parent … or anyone close is never easy. You feel it – grief – as much as you want, when you want and deal with it in your own way. And sometimes you just never deal with it at all. I feel that if you grew up not knowing your father and having that familial relationship, the loss you experienced from a very young age still resonates within you as an adult. While, the flip-side of that coin, is that if you grew up with your father and then lost him, you feel the loss just as much as that of the person who didn’t grow up with their father because we are human. Losing a parent is never easy and it is one of the hardest losses to come to terms with because while you knew you would bury them, you never thought that you would ever see that day anytime soon.
I lost my father in 2002 when I was eleven (11) years old. For me, I didn’t really feel the loss until quite later in life when I began to really understand my feelings, and the numbness wore off. My emotions caught up with me the year that I lost my cousin, and it was only then, when I recollected the devastating news to my sister that she had passed that I felt overwhelmed with grief – not just for her, but for my father. I remember where I was and I remember the moments after as I gushed for air because the room was closing in on me. I felt this overwhelming sensation of hot air flood my whole body as I broke down in the pile of clean laundry. I cried. And cried some more. I was about seventeen (17) when the grief struck me and it was then that I understood what had happened and felt it all at once, despite the fact that people had sent their condolences years ago. Until then, I had never really mourned for my daddy; but it wasn’t because I didn’t miss him. When we were told the news, we were told to switch the TV off (we were watching Dark Angel) and asked to listen carefully. Even as we were told the news, I was so de-sensitized from it all and I didn’t really feel any sort of way. For years, even when I was going through counselling in high school, I still was very de-sensitized and numb from it all but I realize now that it was my way of coping. Everyone in my family grieved in their own way – but I, like my younger sister were quite de-sensitized at the time (and she still is). But in her defence, she was so young when we left Zimbabwe, that her memories of him are most likely just dreams or illusions of some sort. It’s sad that she never got to really grow up with him and doesn’t remember him as much or the person he was because he was such a great man. That’s the truth of it all. At twenty-five (25), I have to admit that dealing with the grief later definitely helped me accept what happened. After all, I was a child when he passed so I feel like I dealt with it the best way I knew how – then. The way I dealt with it then was to put my blinders on and not feel anything. If I had been there when he died, and not been in Scotland, I probably would have felt and dealt with my grief when he passed. But I wasn’t there.
As a kid, growing up in Harare, most families I crossed paths with knew who my dad was because he worked at the most popular retail store in town – OK (a.k.a. OK Zimbabwe Limited – on First Street). He was such a social butterfly and moved around in various social circles which contributed to his popularity. Everyone used to call him “Dr. Zinds” (despite the fact he had never actually attended medical school) but that’s who he was. Growing up in his shadow though has always been something of a novelty. One that I never used to like being referred to when brought up in conversations; but one that I regard quite highly now. The likeness between my Dad and I is quite significant (in a way). And when everyone asks my sisters and I, “are you sure you guys are related?” I confidently say “Yes!”. I do revel in the novelty of knowing that I resemble this man – who, while flawed – was still the best guy around. My Dad.
My favourite memory of him is from grade school. I had a school trip to the Lion & Cheetah Park, and for lunch, I got toasted sandwiches with meat and cheese; potato chips; juice; tuck money and of course, chocolate – but not just any regular chocolate – the Pascall chocolates! Those were so critical in grade school because if you didn’t have any, then you just weren’t that cool! I smile fondly at that memory often because he took me to school and made sure that I went on that trip with all the essentials. Such a simple act but the most memorable memory I have. It’s been almost 13 years since he passed, and I miss him so much everyday. I try not to get too emotional when I think about him and while it is tough, I do pretty okay about the not-crying part. Although, when I start to think about the future and about things like how he won’t be walking us (my sisters and I) down the aisle some day, or that he won’t be there to see his only son exchange vows with his fiancee in a few days, or that we won’t hear him teach his grand babies about the ins-and-outs of life and growing up – it gets hard to choke back those tears. But like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, there is a great gold lining on the cloud – our Mom – Evelyn. We (and I can speak for all my siblings here) are grateful for our Mom and the rock that she is. She is a force to be reckoned with and continues to teach us invaluable lessons on his behalf.
I love my parents so much. Too much! Despite the fact that it is just my Mom now, I sometimes talk as if my Dad is around – and in a way he is. My Mom is my everything and I tell her everyday (or every other day when I talk to her), and if anything were to happen to her (God forbid *knocks on wood*), we would be completely lost without her. We appreciate all she is.
The key take-away, when it really comes down to it is, if you don’t know it now, then you will at some point but, your parents are your number one supporters in life. Your parents will always love you no matter how much they tell you that you have “disappointed” them. They will fight for you until the end, and that is what makes their unconditional love so special. You can do wrong but they will always love you.
When I think about Vincent (my Dad), I remember the fond memories just as much as remember the bad. But I’m grateful to have known such a man for those eleven (11) years of my life. In those few short years, I was loved; and even when he passed, I could and still feel his love. He was never perfect but he was my Dad. A great man with a big heart and an infectious laugh! His name was and is: Vincent.... N. xo