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One year gone. I miss you, daddy

One year gone. I miss you, daddy
May 15
11:25 2024

Today marks exactly one year since my father passed on to eternal glory. I admired and loved him so much and still do. His physical absence on earth has been very painful and difficult for me, and I have mourned him the entire year. During these past 12 months, I have gone through it mostly crying at nights, staring into space, reminiscing on the beautiful moments I shared with him, honouring his memory, reflecting on his impactful life, and celebrating his enduring legacy. It made me more introverted than I have ever been and largely kept away from social media, I have not posted anything new on my handles and pages since he was laid to rest in July last year.

I have also been quite inactive on WhatsApp groups and largely remained reclusive, most of the time. Even my milestone birthday just six weeks ago, was marked in solitude, at least until I was ‘ambushed’ by my immediate family and a few friends. There is so much that can be written about my reflections on life, immortality, and the inevitability of death but I will resist the temptation to do so at this time.

I have missed my father greatly: the phone conversations that never happen again and his messages that I yearn to read each day. I wish I can now answer those missed calls that I failed to return, much to his constant chagrin, or at least return them and hear his voice again. I know he would begin with, “what’s on?” Our times together on the dining table or sitting out to discuss for hours may belong to the ages but forever etched in my heart. We have a passion for public affairs, an interest I picked from him, and we spent hours reviewing the events of the day or week, whether local or global. My dad loved a good story, either telling it himself or poking further to get more details from you. Time passes, and the moment is gone.

As soon as the news of his passing was made public, I was told by early callers that I had to be strong for my mother and siblings. It forced me to grieve in silence, which was a very excruciating experience. But just five days later, alone in my room, I could not hold back the tears anymore. It burst out and flowed for some time until I allowed a phone call from a friend to interrupt it. I realised that crying did not make me less a man. Many friends shared words of encouragement with me during that period but one that prepared me for the long road ahead came from a dear friend and sister. She said, “Time helps. It doesn’t heal, but it helps”. Even though I shed more tears in the days that followed that first outburst, it always actually made me stronger in the weeks to come as we commenced arrangements to bid farewell to his earthly body.

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His funeral was a celebration of his life of service to God, family, society, community, and humanity. It was a 10-day honour for a man of many parts. I am still in awe and very thankful for the outpouring of prayers, love, and support to our family from friends and well-wishers in different corners of the world. It not only helped us through those dark moments of loss but made it easier for us to soothe the pain of grief. We still owe each one of them a debt of gratitude. I am glad that we gave him a modest and befitting burial ceremony to commend his soul to the Almighty God and commit his body to the earth. After the ceremonies were over, not a few friends would say “congratulations” to me and I usually responded in chuckling bewilderment, “Why? I just buried my father”. I always found it strange but amusing.

His 82 years on earth taught me several lessons about service to God through witnessing and evangelism; service to family by espousing the values of integrity, honesty, sincerity, courage, and absolute faith in God; service to the community by giving off talent, time, energy, and resources to make an impact; service to the society by providing leadership when called upon to do so; and service to humanity by playing an active role in making the world a better place. As a Presbyterian, and a Christian for that matter, he had a strong conviction that it is not just about being a regular Sunday worshipper or holding a position in Church but maintaining a personal relationship with God that reflects in his life. As a journalist he wanted to get out the news so that the people will be better informed, as a public servant he believed that the duty of government is to serve the people and as a community leader he was committed to the development of the people. His book, “A Personal Odyssey”, is an in-depth account of his efforts to orchestrate the transformation of our community with projects and employment opportunities for our people. He was not a perfect man, as he would always remind us, but he strived for perfection in every bit of his life. I am and will remain eternally grateful to God for the extraordinary gift of a father like him.

His impactful life of service has stiffened my resolve to honour his memory through the Anyim Ude Memorial Project. For a start, his memorial website, www.anyimude.com, will always be updated as an online repository of his life and work including his writings as a journalist and legacies in public service. His memorial YouTube channel will also share videos of his life and times. I will also ensure that his memoirs which he started three years ago, and almost completed, is published. In addition, the aims and objectives of a nonprofit organization he founded, Senator Anyim Ude Foundation, to promote the ideals of transparency and accountability in public service, provide opportunities for education for indigent and exceptional students, provide good healthcare support services especially for the sick and vulnerable, support the elderly and empower widows and youth will be achieved in fulfilment of his aspirations.

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The Anyim Ude Prize for Investigative Journalism which debuted this year will continue to be awarded to the Best Investigative Reporter of the Year, and we are excited that Umar Audu, a journalist with Daily Nigerian newspaper, is the maiden recipient of the prize for his undercover report exposing a certificate racketeering syndicate in the neighbouring Benin Republic that specialises in selling university degree certificates to willing buyers in Nigeria. It was presented at an award ceremony to commemorate World Press Freedom Day by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Abuja earlier this month. I know that my father will be thrilled by the choice. Subsequently, an Anyim Ude Community Service Leadership Programme will be inaugurated to recognize, reward, and encourage a young person who takes initiative, organizes, and motivates others to make a positive impact in the development of our community, Akaeze.

As my one-year mourning period comes to an end, his immortalisation in my memories will remain forever. But I begin a journey that will open a new chapter in my personal and public life. In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, I will also live up to my responsibility to take care of my Mum and our family, and always be there for them. I will equally embark on new endeavours of my own such as launching a social media app that promotes engagements on public affairs, devoting my personal website to sharing my thoughts and interests, and starting a regular book reading series. I know that my father, Senator (Elder) Anyim Ude MON, is watching over me and even though he is not here, he is still here. After all, death is only a part of living for as Apostle Paul wrote in verse eight of the sixth chapter in his epistle to the Romans as contained in the Holy Bible, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”.

Good night, Daddy. I love you, I will always love you.

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