Missing Daddy...

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Us - taken around 1969ish... This is my favorite picture of Daddy and I. I kinda wish I hadn't written on it, but I was young and going through a weird phase where I felt the need to write on all my pictures... {don't judge me! LOL}.

But yeah, I've been thinking about my dad A LOT lately... I'm not sure if it's because Father's Day is coming up, or that this is his birthday month or what, but he's been on my mind quite a bit. I just miss him. I miss the man I grew up with; the one I often clashed with because we were just way too alike; the one who pushed me when I didn't want to be pushed; the one who saw far more in me than I ever saw in myself. Even when the dementia took hold we still had a connection. My mom says all the time on how I was his fiercest defender, and she's right. I would catch a case for my daddy! LOL.

From the beginning I got away with more than my siblings. Maybe it was because I was his first-born or because I'm named after his mother... I was officially named "Esperanca", but my dad took one look at me and called me "Isunji." To friends and family, that's the name I've gone by ever since. In his native language isunji means 'amazing' or 'miracle.' I learned the significance of the name later when I found out Daddy was married before my mom and never had children. The woman blamed him and I guess he believed it. So when I was born it was, to him, a miracle and he expressed it through my name. Kind of a cool story ...

Remembering hasn't necessarily been a sad thing. Although there have been tears, some of which flow even as I write this post. The tears have been attached to fond memories. I've been thinking about things I took for granted at the time. Like the way every time I called his name to ask him a question or tell him something his response was always, "Yes darling?" I can still hear it in his voice, with that accent. It always made me feel so special - no one calls me that anymore. I remember getting myself out of trouble on several occasions by doing something goofy that made him laugh when I know he wanted to yell - and what a laugh he had.

I remember I used to hate it when he would end a phone conversation without saying goodbye. (It has always bugged me when people don't say goodbye). I'd call him at the office and when we were done he would say something like, "Okay then" and just hang up! Me being who I am, I'd call him right back and say, "Daddy! You didn't even say goodbye!" He would be so mad, but he would give me a gruff "goodbye" anyway. I don't think he was nearly as upset about it as he tried to sound. Eventually he started saying goodbye without me having to call back- winning!

I was walking with a friend once and she asked why I was walking so fast. I realized that it came from hanging with my dad when I was little. I remember wanting to go anywhere he was going. I was his road dog. LOL He always walked fast and it took 10 of my steps to equal one of his so I guess it stuck. Although he was small in stature, he had a big presence that commanded attention everywhere he went. In retrospect I credit that for the reason I walk around with my head up to this day.

I took a trip to Angola with him when I was 8 or 9 years old. I remember the reception he received when we went to Kamizwa in Malange, his home town. There was singing and dancing like I'd never seen before. It was like Michael Jackson had come to town! I remember another incident in Angola where I got knocked down in the midst of a big crowd (the reason I avoid crowds to this day). Daddy got down on all fours over me to keep me from being stepped on. It was then that I understood that this man would sacrifice himself for his kids without hesitation. The scar on my ankle where some lady in stilettos stepped on me is a reminder of my father's sacrificial love.

I remember looking at him as though he was making it up as he told about how he escaped Angola to come to Europe during the time when the country was fighting for independence from Portugal. Never one to bite his tongue (guess that's where I get it from), my dad and my uncles were very vocal about wanting the Portuguese out. This landed him in jail - yes, the good Bishop was in jail - can you believe it?! In prison, the policeman gave him a legal pad and a pen and tried to force him to write a confession for things he didn't do. They interrogated him four hours trying to get information he didn't have, and finally they let him go. He told me about meeting up with sympathizers after his release who helped him escape the country. It was just like a spy movie complete with code words,  and rendezvous points... At one point they were in hiding in a barn waiting to meet the plane that would take them to safety in Spain. They could hear the police outside the barn looking for them... One of the women had a baby and the baby started to cry! By the grace of God, they weren't caught! My heart was in my throat as he told the story... as if I didn't already know how it ends! LOL!

So these are the things that have been on my mind lately. Remembering my dad who, although he wasn't perfect and didn't do everything right, gave us his absolute best. September 14th will make 4 years and I still miss him like it was yesterday. I look forward to seeing him again one day.

For those of you who still have your father's, I encourage you to make the most of this Father's day and every day you still have your fathers with you. Make him feel special and cherish the moments you have. The memories will serve you well later I guarantee it! Blessings and Happy Father's Day!

 

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