April 25th was my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 76. It was the third birthday in his absence. It felt like attending a bash but the celebrant is a no-show. We are advised to appreciate people when we still have them around. I believe I did that for my Mzee and he knew it. That’s what made his funeral three years ago bearable. I was confident that he knew my heart and that gave me lots of peace. I didn’t have unresolved daddy issues with him. Folks may we travel light and be in the habit of keeping our relational house tidy as much as it depends on us.  That way we end up with fewer regrets should one of us suddenly be plucked from the garden of life.

But something strange has been happening since Dad left us. As I adapted to doing life without him and picking up some of the stuff he used to do, I feel like I’m getting to understand him deeper. Folks, have you ever felt like you learned someone more or got closer to them in their absence? That’s how I’ve been feeling. Like I’m now seeing a reflection of myself more in my departed father. I feel like I’m walking more in his shoes, mind and heart. It may sound spooky but I’m not sure how else to put it. It’s not like my old man appears in my dreams and we chat over chai (tea) but I’m hearing his unspoken thoughts.

As I go about doing what I can to build my legacy and cover my family I’m questioning whether some of my private battles were his too and I feel strongly that they were. You see my dad was a cool, peace-loving man who avoided confrontation as much as he could. Don’t confuse that for weakness. He still had a silent determination that did a lot. I think I’m like that too. But should he have spoken out more? or made a few more moves that were driven by his conviction than for the sake of keeping the peace?

Passive income is one sure way to financial security. It takes care of us in our old age. We had many chats with Mzee about what we needed to do to ensure money worked for us while we slept. But for some strange reason, we didn’t cover much ground. I recall one time while taking him for a medical test before his surgery. It was quiet in the car. I think he must have been scared of the road ahead. I was scared too but somehow believed he would get through the illness.

He broke the silence and said thoughtfully, “Things will be different son once I leave the hospital and recover”. I knew exactly what he meant. It was the tone in his voice that sounded decisive. I looked forward to that time. Sadly, he never got out of the hospital to show us how things would be different. He left us kwa mataa (suddenly) and since then I have felt like he handed that assignment to me in silence and spirit. Or maybe I’m just putting the responsibility on myself as his oldest son. Either way, I’m glad to accomplish what Dad desired for his family.

Since then we have been on a journey to put Mzee’s (and Mum’s) investments to good use and they are slowly bearing fruit. But I have a sense of guilt. I feel like I’m benefiting from what should have been his. I thank Sir God for answering my prayer and not putting Dad’s family to shame when he left us. In fact, I remember the day of his surgery coincided with a conclusion of a bank matter. It’s like he was still putting his affairs in order till the last day. We have heard horror stories of families fighting not to lose their stuff after losing their patriarch. Thank you Mzee for not letting that happen even in your absence. You have set a good example. My brother and I have no excuse.

I now have a strange guilt. Like he’s the one who should be enjoying the proceeds of his (and mum’s) many years of labour. The Good Book says that a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. I think that the good man should also enjoy both his inheritance if any but more importantly his years of hard work especially in his sunset years.  Oh, and on the inheritance, we should leave more than just material inheritance to our kids. I pray my baby sharks also inherit values, resilience and other life skills from me that will serve them well in future. I’m glad they have a lot of good traits to inherit from mummy shark when mine run out hehe. My mum used to tell us when were younger to copy the good in her and dad and disregard the not-so-good in them. I don’t mind passing on that advice to my baby sharks for it has served me well and still is even in Mzee’s[U1]  absence.

Folks let us appreciate and attend to our parents and loved ones while we still have them. We learn more, better and faster when we are in class (with our loved ones around) than when they are gone and we have to do some long-distance learning.


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8 thoughts on “My Absent Father.”

  1. MG says:

    Has it been three years already? May His soul continue to rest in eternal peace. What a poignant reflection Lucas, and a heart felt tribute. May you continue to live out the values that he planted in you.

  2. Levi says:

    Amazing bro!! I truly connect with what you said. I have a lot of those connections and reflections. I miss dad a lot!!
    Baraka tele and blessings to you. Great tribute. Dad is smiling.

  3. Lilian says:

    It is said a father is his daughter’s first ‘crush’. My father set the bar high for me when it came to how I should relate with the male gender. Am yet to meet that ‘one’ who handles me like my Dad did. Yes it’s true! Truly a Dad’s girl. I miss him daily. I run through our conversations in my mind.

    When things got tough and my heart got broken he was there to help me put back the pieces of my heart. He left for us spiritual, moral, value inheritance that money cannot buy. A good name may I add. The Bible says a good name is more to be chosen than great riches – Proverbs 22:1.

    I believe our Father would be proud of who we have become in his absence. It’s not an easy journey but we have done well … I love you my brothers…

  4. Rose Waithera Njoroge says:

    Elder Maranga was a great and very nice person. His Love and Concern for people will never be forgotten. His encouraging words will forever be remembered in our family. His absence is still very loud to us.
    May the Almighty God continue upholding his Loving wife Leah and all the children for His Glory and purposes.

  5. Camagu. Faith says:

    THIS REMINDS ME OF MY ABSENT FATHER.I never saw my father,he died in the same year I was born..Yes,we did struggle a lot growing up.We are a family of six siblings and I surely the last born. The first born was 15 at the time of his death meaning we were all young..Our mother was not working and she was the youngest of my TWO FATHER’s wives..We got nothing from his inheritance though he had MANY COWS,SHEEP & GOATS.. I repeat we STRUGGLED A LOT BT GOD OF OUR FATHER PULLED US THROUGH…IT WAS SAID MY FATHER WAS A GOOD MAN, GENEROUS & LOVED ALL HIS CHILDREN ..IN MY ENTIRE LIFE ( 60 YRS NOW) I DREAMT OF HIM TWICE BT I ALWAYS FELT HIS PRESENCE & HIS CARING LOVE. THROUGH GOD’S GRACE I AM A RETIRED GRADUATE SCHOOL TEACHER WITH ONLY ONE CHILD OF MY OWN BUT I RAISED MANY ORPHANS & VULNERABLE KIDS..I INHERITED A LOT OF GENEROSITY & CARING VALUES IN HIM..LOVE & MISS YOU ALWAYS MSHWAWU,CEBISA..

  6. david kimani says:

    Thank you Lucas for this post. We thank God as we remember your Mzee. A great man who was available not only to his children and family but others and mentored them. My Mzee has also been “absent” for thirty years now. His presence in our lives lingers in my memory (never can remember him being absent-in the sense of not available, accessible). Reminds me of our heavenly Father who is an ever-present Father.

  7. Tom muchina says:

    I truly resonate , it’s also my considered opinion the Good book was not referring to inheritance of earthly processions.
    May the Almighty give you wisdom, grace & peace.
    I am convinced Dad did a excellent job with you my brother.
    God Bless

  8. Linda says:

    Bro, this blog made me tear up. Your writing is such a force, a great force. Thank you!

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