Nonso Okpala
4 min readFeb 8, 2021

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My Dad is Gone

There is no way to replace a Dad. The vacuum is too huge to fill and the uncertainty is too much to bear.

Daddy, we miss you, I miss you. More than two weeks after and I still can’t bear the sight of a picture of you. It sadly reminds me of your absence and the finality of your departure. It reminds me of the fact that I will never hear your voice again, never feel your firm grip again, your sarcasm, and every other thing that collectively makes you my Daddy.

These days, I surround myself with lots of people, trying to distract myself with work and countless activities but when I retire to sleep or in my dreams, I am faced with the reality that you are no longer here. It is a deeply sad and overwhelming feeling that keeps me thinking of the value of life and how to make sense of it. But because of you, I am very lucky in this aspect. Daddy, you gave me all the lessons required to make sense of life.

You taught me honesty and integrity. You were undoubtedly the most honest person I knew. No embellishment, no coatings, no diplomacy. You always gave the truth in its pure and unadulterated form, even when it was the most difficult thing to do. I recall when you contradicted my story and earned me suspension in secondary school (Marist Brothers Juniorate). I recall what you said on our way back home that faithful day as we left the principal’s (Ezetulugo) office, “if I lie before my son, how can I teach him to be honest?”

You taught me to share love beyond my immediate family and to bestow love on anyone deserving of it. I recall mummy saying that you loved your relatives more than your own children. This wasn’t exactly true but I could see the reasons why she said so. Two people readily come to mind, your sister, Aunty Elizabeth, and her son Father Mike. You showed them a level of commitment and affection reserved for only offsprings and wives. They were deserving of the affection too, and I knew when Father Mike paid you a long-awaited visit, to be with you by your sickbed, you would feel the fulfillment required to depart this world. He was by your bedside and took your last words.

You taught me through the openness of your life examples and your shortcomings. You never hid what made you human or concealed your vulnerability. During my early years, I was devastated because you shattered my perception of “my father, my superhero.” You were always “my Dad, the mere mortal, and vulnerable human.” As I grew older, it helped me, in no small way, accept myself regardless of my situation. I recall when you were retired after over 30 years working with First Bank of Nigeria Plc with little preparation for retirement. For some days after, you still got dressed before 6 am for work and just sat in the living room. It was the only life you knew and you let us share in the pain of losing it. I saw your struggles, as you shared your pain adjusting to retirement, and this greatly ignited my burning desire to build companies and secure jobs for breadwinners like you, male and female alike.

You taught me contentment. You had the infinite ability to endure and to accept your situation or condition even when aspiring for more. This quality keeps me grounded and focused on the most important things. I recall two life-changing quotes you shared with me. The first: “I will rather serve in heaven than reign in Hell.” The second: “All I need in life is a roof over my head, bare bread in my stomach, a bible to read, and good health.” Unfortunately, your not so great health was a cross you had to carry all your life. You were diagnosed with diabetes just before you turned forty and ultimately died of complications associated with it.

I wish you were here to see your family still thrive in your absence. Mummy is in tears but strong and providing the type of guidance you always gave. Emeka has assumed leadership of the family, in a manner that will certainly make you proud. Chibuzor, as always, remains the glue that holds the family together. Azubike continues to remind us of you in ways that keep you fresh in our minds. Okechukwu tries to keep us all grounded and in touch with our bare necessities. Your darling and only daughter has become the commander of the Okpala garrison. You should see how she assumed the responsibility of organizing your burial, in a manner that is befitting of a true hero, our hero. My hero.

Today, as we lay you down to rest, I am certain you are in the company of Papa and Aunty Elizabeth, in the bosom of the Lord.

Goodbye Daddy.

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Nonso Okpala

A visionary and serial investor. Managing Director/CEO of VFD Group Ltd and Father-In-Chief.