Last week Saturday was my dad’s birthday. I almost missed it. In fact, my whole family almost missed it. I blame this Corona pandemic because we cannot tell what day of the week it is. Sunday and Wednesday all feel and look the same. The corona version of a new week is yesterday, today, tomorrow and the day after.
I am determined to make the best of this over supply of time. It feels like a day has fifty hours. One of the areas I want to improve on is my photography. I’m hoping to take part in a photography exhibition this year so this is a good time to shoot more and curate some work in preparation. I have been to Nairobi National Park a few times over that last one month and it’s been extremely rewarding. On one of those trips I went with my baby sharks and it was a special bonding experience. They were my wildlife spotters and my daughter led us to a family of rhinos. How many people have access to rhinos roaming in the wild just a few kilometers away from where they live? COVID19 has helped me count my blessings one by one as the Sunday school song goes.
Last Saturday I had planned to drive up to the Ngong Hills to take some landscape photos with those humongous wind turbines up close. I sent my Dad a text that morning inquiring if he will be home so that I can pass by and salimia him as it was his birthday. As expected, where else would he be with the limited movements we are experiencing now. I bought him a small cake at Art Caffe and headed towards my urban shags. The plan was to do a technical appearance, cut cake then head on to Ngong hills.
My folks were evidently happy to see me when I got there because it had been a few weeks since we had met. They had been by themselves for many days without visitors and yet they are both outgoing individuals. After a warm welcome, mum went on to make some tea as my old man and I sat down for a catchup. The weather was lousy that day. Grey and wet. So, the tea was a welcome warmer. Plus, I am a self-confessed tea addict. I recorded a clip on my phone to send to the whole family of Dad cutting the cake as mum and I sang for him. He then gave a short message of gratitude and encouragement to his clan. For a moment there it felt like we were all together in the room. That helped brighten the day. It was a flashback to life before covid.
We then sat down to enjoy the tea and cake. I told my folks I was headed to Ngong hills for some photography. They tried to dissuade me because of the wet conditions. At that moment, a thought popped up in my mind. The Ngong hills will always be there but when does my Dad turn 72 again. At that point I decided spending the day with my folks will be the only agenda on that Saturday.
The threat of Corona virus on life made it more important to hang out with them. Just like a typical mother, the tea and cake turned out to be the appetizer. Soon after tea mum was preparing lunch for Mzee and I. Food is my love language and she knows it so I couldn’t decline the lunch offer.
Once we sat down to eat, I asked Dad about his views on life and his journey so far. I wanted to know what stands out for him and what regrets he has as he looks back on his life. He was in a good mood (maybe from the adult version of a sugar high from the chocolate cake) so he opened up and shared how they got here with mum. I got to learn details I never knew about. Series of events that led to some major decisions they made like buying their past homes or farm and stuff. Most were what I call God accidents. Where you stumble into decisions or situations that turn out to benefit you in the long run.
I enjoyed this trip down memory lane with my folks. I instantly felt this renewed gratitude and appreciation for them. I was also challenged to seek them out more just to spend time together and not always be in a hurry. Folks at 40, visiting our parents should not be a pit stop, it should be more like a full engine service. It takes a few hours. If there was no COVID19 I doubt I would have dedicated that Saturday to my Dad. Corona virus has hit the snooze button on life, and we can sleep longer, eat for longer and do what we can (including nothing) for longer. Thank you, corona, for that realization but please go away now. We need to socialize.
Dad shared with me their future plans and desires with Mum. This was the first time in an exceedingly long time that I sensed his vulnerability on decisions he took in the past that he regrets. It was like an apology masked in speaking his heart. He also gave me a report card on my performance as a man and a son. Thank God it was better than my own self appraisal. I needed the positive reinforcement amidst all this gloom and doom we are going through as a human race.
I’m glad that Ngong Hills shoot did not happen. There is nowhere else I’d rather have been last sato. The joy I felt driving back home was precious. Guys, sometimes there are benefits to hitting the snooze button of our lives and remaining in a spot a while longer. Depending on the spot, it may be more beneficial than the ten extra minutes in bed after the first snooze. May we make the best of this global snooze that corona virus has forced on us folks. By improving ourselves, our relationships and everything in between that matters.