After I graduated from pharmacy school in 2007 and added a title next to my name, my dad stopped calling me in the name he used to call me.
So, whenever I call him, he picks up the phone and says, “Doctor, my wise daughter.”
Well, I know the first one “Doctor”, I got it from “schooling” but the second one, believe me in this, it took me years and years of hard work to earn it.
Do you want to know my “OLD” nickname? Please don’t call me with that name, lol, but I will tell you anyways.
So, here we go: “Dinner of Fire” (those of you who are from Ethiopia should know what kind of bug is called like that – if you know the name of that bug in English, please let me know, lol). Well, this bug is curious for every little thing. It sometimes gets attracted to the shiny light of a fire and jumps into it not knowing that it burns it, lol.
Well, my dad doesn’t call me "Dinner of Fire" anymore. So now you know why I enjoy calling my dad; just to be called, not as “Dinner of Fire” (Hallelujah, God changed my name) but “Doctor, my wise daughter”.
For my mom and dad’s 50th years wedding anniversary lunch party, which was celebrated in Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I presented one of my and dad’s story everybody who was there at the party loved. So, I will tell you that story today since I’m writing this to say “Happy Father’s Day” to my dad and to all the Dads out there.
So, when I was a teenager, making a phone call from home was something unthinkable. The monthly phone bill was driving my mom crazy. So, my mom bought a key and locked the dial (I attached the picture of the phone with this post so that those of you who are not from my generation will understand what kind of phone I’m talking about here, lol).
Even though my mom faithfully locked the phone every day, my siblings were able to keep in touch with their friends over the phone. I wondered how they did it.
So, one day, I saw one of my older siblings making a phone call while the phone was tightly locked. I was very curious how they did it.
Then one day, after so many trials and errors, I figured it out. Once you practice for a number of times, you can do it but it demands accuracy and speed, lol. You don’t need to know how to do it because I wonder if anybody has this kind of phone these days.
One day, my dad and I were home. Nobody was home. My mom was not home either and my dad didn’t have any clue where his wife went. After he waited for her for a long time, my dad became very nervous.
He asked me where my mom was and I told him that I didn’t know but told him that she could be at her sister’s house. He immediately said, “Okay, go ahead call your aunt’s house.”
I quickly replied, to make my point across that it was not good to lock the phone, “I can’t do that. You know mom always locks the phone and she takes the key with her.”
He was very frustrated. I kept my cool and sat next to him. It was around 5:30pm and my mom was nowhere to be found. When the clock read 6pm, my dad was really worried.
Calmly, I said to him (I know my siblings sacrificed me for that), “Do you want me to make a phone call so that you would know where she is?”
He looked at me as if I was trying to make a fool out of him, he said, “You don’t have the key, do you?”
Trying to read his face to see whether he was going to join my “club” or not, I said, still with calm voice, “No, I don’t have the key but if you want me to make a call, I will but you have to keep it as a secret and promise me that you won’t tell anyone.”
He looked at me as if I was one of “the ufos” or something. Now, I smiled mischievously and said, “Just promise me that you don’t say anything to anyone, especially to mom, do you?” I must be lunatic for thinking that because with my dad, nothing is a secret! I know that very well. Anyways!
He said, “Okay” with some hesitation which was very obviously seen across his face. I don’t know how I missed that, lol. So, I got up and called and talked to my aunt. My aunt told me that my mom had left few minutes ago.
I hang up the phone and told him. He was relieved but at the same time, he was staring at me as if I was “a mafia” or a gang organizer.
Within two or three minutes, my mom came. And guess what? My dad didn’t even say hello to her.
He asked her, “Do you have the key for the phone?”
She inquisitively said, “Yes.”
He said, “Forget it! Don’t even worry about carrying it with you anymore. You rather leave it here. Your daughter just made a phone call while the phone was locked.”
Yeah, that is my dad! The good thing is, that incident set us all free. My mom decided not to lock the phone. Rather, she chose to teach us about money and budget. Did I get that? Nope!
Well, yes, my dad hides nothing, my dear. No secret with him and I strive to be like him because I see him being emotionally healthy ALWAYS.
Believe it or not, I didn’t plan to write about my dad but about his dad, my grandpa. Well, what can I say? Let me say few things about my grandpa, the person even my dad was not privileged to know.
My dad last saw his dad when he was 9 years old. One day I asked my dad if he remembered anything of his dad and this is what he said:
“I remember my dad leaving home one early morning around 5am, carrying his rifle. I looked at him from the back. He didn’t say a word to me. He didn’t turn back to say bye or anything. He left and I stood there until he disappeared from my eyes. And that is the only picture I have of my dad. I have more memory of his back than his front.”
His dad died during the five years’ war between Italy and Ethiopia. After his dad died, my dad, being the first child, took over his dad’s place. He tried his best to provide to his stay-at-home mom and his two siblings.
Since he didn’t see the body of his dad, he expected him to come home and surprise them. But he never did. His uncles and most of the men in his neighborhood died in that war. So, it was (still is) very hard for my dad to find someone to tell him about his dad; or what he was like. He didn’t have any picture of his dad.
And recently, like eight years ago, he found a small book, about one of the generals who was leading the Ethiopian known fifty snipers during that time and there is one picture of the fifty snipers together in the middle of the story and the names of those soldiers were listed.
My dad was just simply reading that small book and all of a sudden, he read his dad’s full name being listed among the fifty snipers.
The problem was the names of those soldiers were not listed according to their lineup on the picture but according to their war title. His dad was the fifth one listed. My dad had no memory of his father’s face. So he was not able to tell which one was his dad from those fifty men. (I attached that picture with this post.)
He put that small book closer to his heart and sobbed. He sobbed as if he found his dad’s body.
Yes, my dad went through hell to make the ends meet because he lost his dad at early age. He didn’t have anyone to protect and provide for him, his siblings and his poor mom. He did everything upside down because he was young with no mentor or role model around. He always says, “I wish I’ve known my dad. I wish I had moments with him; moments I remember vividly. I wish my dad told me how to do life.”
And as a daughter of a fatherless father, I can tell you this: It hurts not to have a father while you have a father. My dad didn’t know how to do fathering. Looking back, I see many incidents where I wanted to have a father to protect me and fight for me but my dad didn’t know how to raise a daughter, protect her and love her in the way she wanted to be loved by her dad.
But regardless, I love my dad! He did “his best” which at times, his best was a nightmare for me. But regardless, I love him very dearly. I’m glad he was (still is) in my life. At least, his presence kept the thieves away from our house. Seeing a thief was my nightmare when I was a little girl but I used to take courage from my dad’s “WARRIOR” spirit whenever I became scared of thieves in the middle of the night. My dad was (still is) scared of nothing and nobody, including death. I know he is brave.
I attached one of my favorite pictures I had with my dad when I was three or four years old.
So, let me close here by saying this to all fathers out there, including my dad:
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
FATHERS, YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT FOR US, WOMEN AND KIDS, MORE THAN YOU CAN EVER KNOW AND IMAGINE! WE EVEN APPRECIATE YOUR PRESENCE LET ALONE YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN OUR LIVES. ///