AN OPEN LETTER TO MY DAD, PA MICHAEL EZEONYEJEMELI EZEACHIKULO EZEONWUMELU ON THIS OF THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY DAD, PA MICHAEL EZEONYEJEMELI EZEACHIKULO EZEONWUMELU ON THIS OF THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH

It brings me great joy to write this letter to you with a firm belief that you will get it to read. I do not know any other better way of doing this since you are no longer with me but I am confident that your spirit lives. I must confess that I began to appreciate you as I never did before since 2013 after experiencing a week of open letters with the special one coming from a daughter to her dad somewhere in Ogun State. I came to appreciate more, what you meant to me. I dare to declare that I AM WHAT I AM TODAY BECAUSE YOU WERE WHAT YOU WERE TO ME. You were to me, what St. Monica was to St. Augustine and even more. Monica used only prayer but you added force. Thank you Papa!

I recall my early relationship with you and I cannot but thank God for granting me so wonderful a father as you in my earthly life. I cried when you left me just as I was beginning my final journey to the priesthood. I sought for explanations on the reason behind your sudden exit but none seemed imminent. Many people tried to console me and give me peace but it seems far away from me. My brothers in school tried their best to use their philosophy to console me but it was definitely not working. Why? I could not understand why you had to leave then. I wondered why you could not just have endured for some years more. You have seen the fruit of your hard labour in your children before me, why could you not wait to see mine too?

I could recall that you never failed to ask me one question each time I was going back to school: “How many more years do you have left? When is the ordination?” I always told you that I do not know because really I did not know until it came to pass. The vocation is not man’s but God’s gift and he determines when to give it out fully. Imagine the guilt I felt in my heart then. I imagined that you could have been asking me those questions in order to give you some hope that would keep you going and in my ignorance I denied you that hope?

You witnessed the graduation of all your other children; I needed that honour too but my hope was dashed upon your death. I became a graduate just three months after you left us and my heart bled because you were not there to witness it physically. By the grace of God, the long journey came to a joyful fulfillment and I believe that you were one of the heavenly visitors on that day, in the company of my darling sister cum nanny, Njideka, and your sister cum my darling aunty, Laeticia. Wait a minute! Have you seen my friend, Emeka Ezeifesie in heaven? Hope you still remember him? I am sure you will. Has Obinna reached yet? I hope so. What of our in-law, Ichie Sylvester? It is well with you all.

Papa, what I am today is the result of your ever enduring patience that something good could still be made out of me. I am not unaware of many sacrifices that you made for me. I had hoped to appreciate those sacrifices in your lifetime, not knowing that I would not have the opportunity to do so, at least physically. But just as I did while I stood beside your grave on the day you were laid to rest in the mother earth, I promise that I will never disappoint you – I hope you are proud of me now. Yes! By the grace of God, I hope to do more for God and for you.

Papa! It is already 9 years since you left us. But, just incase you are expecting mama to join you soon, please wait a bit longer. I want to take care of her for some time more the way I would have loved to take care of you both. She is going to have a very nice story to tell you when she meets you in heaven. Ada nne m and her family are doing very wonderfully well to make sure that mama remains stable. So, she is in very good hands. At least, I want to have the opportunity of showing her even a minimal love from what I experienced from both of you.

There is something I am yet to understand, Papa. Could it be that you knew that you were going to leave me without telling me? When my school work was weighing me down, you sent a precious gift – a very good laptop – to me to facilitate my work but it was unfortunate that the news of your death came to me on the very day that laptop got to me. It is still quite mysterious to me. Why was it that you could not at least wait to see the thing you gave me money to buy? I can only presume now that you were in a serious hurry to meet Jesus. Well, what Love has joined together, no man can divide. I know you loved Jesus so much. I heard from Ada nne m – a pious woman who would never tell a lie for any vainglory – that the only statement that was on your lips during your last moment was Otito diri Jesu (Praise be to Jesus). That means, you were able to make a LAST OPTION for Christ. That is why, as a theologian, I do not doubt your being in heaven. If you are not, who then will?

You know what! I used to be bothered so much each time that I think of your death, yet I have consolation in the fact that you led a fulfilled life even in your disability. There are very few people that have the kind of disability you had and surmounted it but you did not only overcome it but had all your children trained to graduate level; and I was not left out because you did the last strap before going. Should I talk of your life of charity which at times used to appear embarrassing to us, your children? You could give out even when there appears no hope of replenishing and you would rather deprive yourself than not to give. Yet in the midst of all these, you were very strict that everyone feared your disciplinary measures.

Papa, I just discovered now that I cannot express how I feel towards you exclusively. The more I think of the recent happenings where some parents and their children shamelessly ridicule themselves in the public the more I love you more for making us responsible children. We may not completely be perfect but I feel proud each time I tell people that I am your son. You were too great than my little head could conceive. You meant more to me than the greatest of all philosophers. I doubt if Socrates in your kind of disability would have been as great as you were. I have never been ashamed of telling people that you were disabled because I immediately had to add that you retired as a headmaster and had your eight children as graduates, which include three medical doctors and four teachers, among whom is a Rev. Sister. What a curriculum vitae! Maybe, God had looked upon your willingness to live a respectful and responsible life and allowed me to embrace the Sacred Catholic Priesthood. As long as I continue to offer my daily Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, you will continue to be great in heaven.

I am confidently sure that the words of St. Paul got fulfillment in you; you fought the good fight, you finished your course, you kept the faith. I am therefore sure there is laid up for you a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give you at that day since you love his appearing (cf. 2 Tim. 4: 8).

Papa! Continue to rest in peace. Greet Papa Abraham for me. Hope he knows me. Why not? When you are there! Onye nna ya no n’eluigwe o na-eje okumuo? Mbanu! I just hope that I can live the life of integrity as you lived and inspire people as much as you did. I love you Papa but God loves you most. Till we meet to part no more, Requiscas in Pace! Amen.

Your then little Baby; now a Father of Many,

Chimaobi.

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