5 Lessons I have learnt as a father on the passing of my father

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Anyone who shares a strong bond with their parents takes a long time to get over their loss. The loss of people we held on so dearly to leaves us with pain that may take us forever to overcome. Life is a queue of death. Until it gets to the turn of those near us, we always underrate the pain.

When I lost my father last September, I cried for the first time in a long while. It was a bitter truth I struggled to accept, especially when he was yet to physically meet my newborn son, Animuonyam.

From then until now, it has been a roller coaster of emotions. As we bury him this weekend in his hometown, Ekumfi Abor, I finally come to terms with the fact that I will never see again the man who sacrificed everything for me to have everything.

These few months have been a time of great lessons, especially as a father, too. No one wishes for death. However, as long as it remains part of our life cycle, we need to prepare for such as parents. We must raise our children with the consciousness that we will not always be with them.

These three lessons hit me as a father who dearly loves his children; a father who hopes his children will do just fine in his absence. I pray they prod you into a state of awakening.                          

Prepare your children for the worst.

There is nothing wrong with giving your children all the opportunities you never had. As parents, we must do all we can to make life rosy for our children so they can achieve more than we ever will. Making life rosy for these children is, however, not enough. We must empower them to make life rosy for themselves, too.

Death may come when we least expect it to. Death is like the second coming of Christ. No one knows when it will come and where it will happen. If my father knew he would be no more on September 17, 2021, I knew there were a lot of things he may have put in place. 

Inasmuch as we must provide for our children as fathers, we must teach them how to live independent of us. We must inculcate into them the ability to survive and be happy without us. We should not only prepare life for them. We must prepare them for life.

Life is a great struggle and we must have our children understand this… intentionally. They must know that life is not ALWAYS rosy. If it must be earned, it must be worked for. The harsh realities of life must not come as a shock to them only in our absence.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

As much as possible, have a will.

Husbands are more likely to die leaving their wives and children behind. Even if they don’t, it is easier for the extended family to wrestle with a woman over her dead husband’s property than for a woman’s family to fight a man for property after the death of a woman. It is always unfortunate that people who have been victims of such cruelty mete out similar cruelty to women of their relatives.

Thing is, we assume our relatives love us until we die. It is in our death that we will know how much they have always wanted to have what we did have.

Most fathers mistakenly end up leaving assets in only their names. Even though their wives may have contributed more than they did, these women don’t bother much when the names on those assets are not theirs because they readily assume whatever belongs to the husband belongs to them and their children as well. Reality hits such women when greedy family members show up after the man’s death.

Today, the law has made provision for the man’s wife and his children when he dies intestate but all the stress and frustration they will be subjected to could be avoided when there is a properly thought-through will by the husband. It will ward off all relatives who want to reap what they are too lazy to sow.  

Have a will. It is the only way to protect your wishes for your wife and children.

Be transparent to your wife and children about all your assets.

Trust is the foundation of every marriage. Where there is no trust, couples hide a lot from each other, especially assets of great worth. I have read of damning stories where couples have hidden very important details from their better halves at the detriment of the family. If you can’t trust people, you have no business marrying them.

Speaking about fathers in this context, every asset of ours must be made known to our wives and children. Our immediate family must know where we save. They must know where we have built all our houses, even those before marriage. All our investments must be known by them. Irony is, any asset your wife and children are blind to… becomes a gift to others when you pass away.

If you are not planning to surprise your wife and children, it makes no sense to hide your assets from them. Your mistrust is only setting you and them up for more trouble. One day, in your state of frailty, they may have nothing to cater for you. At your passing, others will enjoy the fruits of your labor while they go around paying every debt in your name.

If it is not your intention to leave an asset with your wife and children, at least, let them know about such. It absolves you of any misgivings in your absence. Imagine owning a river yet having your wife and children die of thirst when you are no more one day.

By Kobina Ansah

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (www.scribecommltd.com). His play, I Want To Sue God!, is Saturday, March 5 & Sunday, March 6, 2022 at 3pm and 7pm at National Theater. Visit www.scribeproductions.com for more details.

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