I grew up in times where fatherhood was not limited to biological fathers. It was a time where everyone that played a fatherly role was called daddy. A time where it was rude to call a friend’s father anything less than daddy. So I had many daddies which could be quite confusing. To help reduce this confusion we had to attach a suffix that is unique to that particular daddy. This suffix could be names of children; for example I could call my friend’s father, Daddy-Foluso. Foluso, happens to be my friend’s name and defining her dad by her name was comforting. Sometimes we defined these daddies by the location. This brings me to the story of my father’s brother (who my siblings and myself call ‘Daddy-Idah’) and my father.
Growing up, I knew my father had many ‘siblings’. It was also times where cousins were referred to as brothers and sisters. Again, this was very confusing as I had lost count of my father’s so called siblings. However, there was a brother that stood out; Daddy-Idah. Daddy-Idah is my father’s biological elder brother who we sometimes qualified by his location. We added the suffix Idah because he was located in Idah, Kogi state of Nigeria. He is a seasoned library scientist who rose to the rank of Chief Librarian before retiring in 2019.
My father on the other hand is an Environmental Engineering lecturer, who like his brother has attained the peak of his career and is now a professor. My siblings and myself grew up calling my father, ‘Dad’. So, whenever my father and his brother are in the same space it was easy to call one Daddy and the other Dad. This so stuck that up till date I consider it rather disrespectful calling my uncle, uncle James (James happens to be his first name). Uncle James also happens to be Dad’s elder brother, who for the longest I’ve known plays both the big brother and fatherly role to my father. I guess you can now understand why I could never call him anything less than Daddy, or to be more definite Daddy-Idah. Haven given this background, I will stick to calling my father’s brother Daddy and my father Dad onwards.
Daddy and Dad is what I call inseparable. I have grown up seeing them loyally stand by and with eachother. Their ideologies, thought patterns and even beliefs are similar. This is amplified in by their faith in Jesus, which is another area they share unapologetic similarity. I don’t know the history of their faith and I’ve never asked, what I do know is that in my over 3 decades of existence I have seen both of them defend their faith in Lord Jesus Christ in their actions, inactions, words, silence, love, and even hate for unrighteousness.
Their love and loyalty to eachother is so visible to all. They would show up for at eachother’s event, they would always keep in touch with eachother. Good enough they valued the sanctity and oneness of marriage. So, their relationship never demeaned the unity of the husband and wife, but rather amplified this truth. That explains why their closeness never affected their marriages negatively. Although, to be fair to their wives, they weren’t spoilers, instead they helped in the preservation of this brotherhood. I have heard scary stories of how spouses have scattered siblings relationships, which is so not cool. Marriage should be a place where relationships are nursed, not spoiled and I will tell you why. In many scenarios children are often made by what they learn from parents. They would love and respect their siblings, if they see their parents do same. They would appreciate relationships if they’ve grown in homes that do. It’s hard to expect children to become what their parents aren’t, as they are unconsciously, subconsciously and consciously modelled by what they see firsthand.
In recent times I was at an event where Daddy and Dad were both present. I watched in admiration as they yet sat by eachother, to me it was a noble act. I guess they had grown accustomed to siting and standing with/by eachother in the past about 7 decades of their lives, that it only comes natural to them. Their relationship is so inspiring that I sometimes catch myself envying same relationships for my siblings and even my children.
Of course they’re aren’t perfect neither are they the same. It’s funny how they differ even in their similarity. Daddy-Idah is actually more sensitive and caring especially towards the girl child. You could be sure to get more sympathy and support from him than you’d his brother. Dad on the other hand is less in your business, he could sit back and trust you to use your best judgement as opposed to Daddy who I feel could be a spoiler with his spoon feeding methodology. While you can get Daddy-Idah emotional and disturbed on some happenings, Dad will remain calmer. So we (my siblings and cousins) exploited and explored their strengths and weaknesses for our benefit. We knew who we could get away with what and who we couldn’t. How could I almost forget that Daddy was more protective, especially of the girl child, which we didn’t like. He had his eyes hovering over us like a mother hen protecting her chicks from the hawks. I will save this gist for another day.
The first major dissimilarity I saw between my father’s brother and my father was political. While one believed in a particular party the other did not, and being that they could both be defensive and vocal on what they believe in, made it quite interesting. At some point, in order to reduce their disagreement they would rather avoid having conversations about such matters. These guys were and still are an item and I pray that God graciously keeps them both because I fear how they’d survive without eachother. I pray that they’d remain strong in faith, and die as heroes of the gospel they’ve so defended. I also pray that God will be so generous to build their mansions side by side in heaven, so they could continue what they’ve left off here on earth.
I’ve learnt the beauty of siblings and family relationships from these two. They aren’t only loyal to themselves but also to their extended family, they would show up at family functions and happily so. They would mediate family squabbles and quarrels pro-bono. They would forgive insultive family members and were constant in their prayers for both erring and non-erring family members. So, it’s rather confusing and disturbing for me, on how the world seem to be shoving aside healthy relationships in exchange for pursuing the ‘finer things of life’. Basing relationships to things like status, wealth and other very ephemeral standards. Our lives are fast becoming constrained to our nuclear families, forgetting that extended families are offshoots of the nuclear. In simple words, ‘your children who are nuclear to you, will make families who will be extended to eachother’. We’ve learnt to love only when convenient and dump at the slightest dispute and difficulty.
I’m glad my siblings and cousins are firm believers of what we’ve touched, seen and watched for almost our whole lives. I for one rate relationships to man, next to the most important thing in life; relationship with God. Such that I have become a strong relationship advocator. Remember Jesus said, the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and the next which he likens to the first; ‘is to love your neighbors as yourself’.
I would rest my pen soonest, but not before I do a toast to my father’s brother and my father. Two men who I’ve come to love dearly and I’ve learnt the value of family from. ‘Cheers Daddy and Dad, may your days be long and filled with greater accomplishments!’.