Divorce doesn’t necessarily mean your father isn’t there any more, but in my case it meant my father was absent from my life. My mother’s younger brother, my uncle Sola, voluntarily stepped into that vacuum with seamless ardour. I’m not sure if he ever had a discussion with my mum about it or if it was a conscious thing for him. He was, and still is, a deeply compassionate man and I guess that’s what motivated him.
Until we were much older and ‘settled’, every Sunday, he would stop by the house after church to spend time with us. He wasn’t a man of great means but whatever he had, he shared with us. He was there for every birthday; usually the first guest to arrive whether we had a party or not. When we did poorly in our exams, my mum would report us to him and he would calmly reprove us. He never lost his temper with us, he is such a gentle soul. I remember soon after the divorce, I told my cousin, his daughter, that I wished he was my father. Children have the weirdest way with words, she said something to the effect of she wished he could be too. Even at ten years old, she also knew she had a great dad. If I’m honest, I envied her.
His greatest sacrifice was sharing his time with his own family with us. Sometimes he would just pick us up, maybe to give my mum a break and we would spend the whole day with our cousins. Most times it was mayhem because we were all about the same age; restless children whose sole mission was to frustrate their parents. ;). My fondest memories are of our trips to Apapa amusement park (in Lagos). My uncle had three kids and one saloon car which was sufficient for a family of five but not for one of eight. That didn’t stop him packing us in his car like sardines for our trips to the amusement park. Those were the fun pre-health-and-safety days. He was also a Grammy award show fanatic and after every trip we would end up watching every video imaginable plus listen to him disapprove of any ‘wild’ performance he didn’t want us to emulate. Specifically -Madonna’s. 🙂
He was proud of every graduation and success we had. He sat by my mother at all our weddings; always her rock. He has celebrated every childbirth with her too like a doting grandfather. I am eternally grateful to my aunt and my cousins for sharing their husband and father respectively with us.
Thank you uncle Sola for being a wonderful father when we needed one the most.