Whenever the final month of the year rolls around, I think about my father a lot. I think December was his favourite month. It was always an exciting time at ours, with mum’s birthday and Christmas to celebrate, and the festivities culminating in a cross-over new year’s dance. It is also the month that he shuffled off this mortal coil. These are the things I miss about him:
The gap in his teeth through which he often whistled and blew cigarette smoke. His love for wearing cut-off jean shorts. His complicated and extremely fluent Luganda, with proverbs and sayings that flew over our uncomprehending heads. His irreverence and saying it like it is, sensitive souls be damned. His incredible love for my mother. His soft spot for Baby, our last born. His threats to jail my brother for taking the car without permission. His tolerance of my mother’s obsession with her only son. His love for his siblings and their children.
He was a stickler for time keeping and fastening seat belts. He was eloquent and spoke big, big words. He was often boastful about his children’s accomplishments but did not hesitate to strike terror into you when you erred (ask the unwed pregnant me, ha ha ha). He taught my brother how to be a gentleman. He scoffed at negative school report cards. He was really generous. I miss the irritation of watching movies with him, because of course he would reveal the plot if he had watched it before. He dropped off my friends when they came to visit. He also tried “visitation” when I went to campus but never caught any “benchers”. Just now, I can see him rolling a ball of posho to dip into his smoked meat sauce. I am laughing at the memory of him offering a round of drinks to the cops on the police patrol car that escorted him home one boozy night.
I wonder what he would think of me today. I bet he would find my life too boring but would like my dreadlocked children. Time deals with the pain of loss. I am able to remember my dad with a smile, and I thank God.