Wednesday the 25th of April was my Dad’s 70th birthday. I like how when I introduce my dad to someone I’m told he looks so young. Good genes hapo. I hope I look like him on my 70th birthday. Going through halftime at 40 has changed my perspectives on many things including how I view my father. Dad and I have always had an easy (quiet) relationship as I grew up. It’s like we signed a father – son MOU when I was born where he will provide of his time and resources to me and my siblings and I will not bother him with too much drama.
In fact when I look back at my upbringing he’s always been there, quietly watching over us as he tried to grow himself at the same time. Dad is from the generation of men that do not express themselves too much but rather show their love through acts of service and provision. Maybe if I told him, ‘’Dad, I love you’’, he might respond by buying me bread hehe…
I like this stage of life that we both find ourselves in. Me at halftime and dad in his third age. Either he has mellowed with time or I have earned his openness. My dad is now like my big bro and we now talk more and go deeper. He retired years back from the bank to join mum in business. My folks have been married 46 years and I marvel at that. I hope and pray mummy shark will put up with me that long. I’m now developing a new admiration for my dad now that I’m in my 40s.
In a world where men are increasingly feeling threatened by women, my dad has a calmness that I want to emulate. As my mum is discovering herself and pushing all possible boundaries, my dad has always been her silent but strong supporter. Mum is my benchmark of a successful woman. She has authored two books ( forgiveness: you need it too and preparing for marriage), done her under and post graduate after her kids had all finished campus and is now working on her doctorate. Soon she will be Dr Grandma shark. She runs a thriving business and is also a family and marriage counsellor who frequently gets invited to speak on radio, TV and many other gatherings. Please note mum achieved (and is still achieving) all this after 40. To me she’s a good picture of how a successful second half looks like.
There is no doubt that dad’s support has been key to her success.Just this week dad was in town unusually late in the evening. I enquired what he was doing in town and he told me he was waiting for mum who was being interviewed on Kameme TV to maliza so they can go home together. Several times he’s driven her to Mount Kenya University in Thika where she was submitting some of her requirements for her doctorate, just because she wanted company. That’s my old man and I salute him today for being a good example of servant leadership. We laugh with my bro that if we ever mess up in life we can’t blame it on daddy issues because they no longer exist now. We sorted them as we grew up and got our own homes.
Something interesting happening at this point in my life with my Mzee is role reversal. I feel like I am now parenting my parents. My folks are very independent and live full lives but I’m feeling responsible for them the way I do for my baby sharks. Dad (and mum too) will often consult me on an issue before making a decision. He seeks my opinion (and my siblings too) on stuff he wants to do and I feel a ka pressure and honour at the same time. Yaani this guy who’s always been my GPS in life is now asking me for direction. That means a lot to me. As a result I’ve taken it upon myself to spend as much time as possible with them because at the end of it all, that’s all that will matter. Our folks gave us their time as we grew up. It’s now our turn to return the favour.
My dad is at a halftime of his own. Or we can call it three quarter time due to his so called third age. He graduated last year with a masters degree in peace and conflict resolution. I know he wants to start something new that will engage him so I took it upon myself to help him re do his CV. We both share a restlessness that comes with knowing you have more ground to cover in the destiny journey but unsure how to proceed. My father is to blame for all this public service roles I find myself in. This is because he has always served in voluntary positions in church and our neighbourhood as we grew up. I know it’s a good thing but I told him, going forward we need to actively pursue activities that we are well equipped for but the ones that also pay.
My family has always given of themselves in doing good for society and we have learnt from the best – my folks. But I feel we may also have leaked energy and left money on the table. This means we are doing things we are good at but they don’t make us money even though others do them and get paid. It’s a fine line between what you choose to do for free and what you should be paid for. So for my dad and I moving forward, I have decided we shall use our 10000 hours to continue making the world a better place but at a fee. After all he still needs to buy that VX before he hits 75 and take mum for a cruise round the world.
The thing for now is to continue growing underground like the bamboo in its first five years. It’s a frustration dad and I relate to fully but we shall soon shoot above ground and occupy our space. Queen Elizabeth said, ‘’work is the rent you pay for the room you occupy on earth’’. Dad you deserve the huge room that you occupy here on earth and I honour you for paying the rent for all of us called by your name. Happy birthday Baba. I am a better man today at 40 not because you told me but you showed me how. Here’s to a brilliant third age that’s better than your first and second ages combined.