My father and I don't speak.
By that I mean we rarely speak. Occasionally there will be a birthday or father's day call. Other than that? Silence.
To me, minimal contact is essentially the same as us not speaking.
15 years ago we were best friends. But today? We don't even know each other. I wonder if he even knows the basics, like the fact that I'm a teacher.
Sometimes I sit and reminisce about the days my father and I spent walking the streets of Amsterdam, hand in hand, carefree, laughing at everything.
All the fun we had, all the times we shared suddenly brought to a halt when this person came along (think evil stepmother—I'm not exaggerating).
Suddenly, no more trips to Europe. No more “5 missed calls from dad” on my phone. No more love.
I missed everything we had together. Steak dinners, morning coffee, random travels, movies, secrets, music and more. The first heartbreak definitely is the worst.
For about a month after that, I got into fights at school, my sweet demeanor had become rude and uncaring. I had to move on quickly because life does and, you know, my mom wasn't having it.
My dad and I don't speak because we have no longer have anything to say. But I will always be thankful for him because of all the awesome things he's done in the past.
It isn't fair to dismiss all the good one has done just because the relationship becomes strained.
With that being said, here's everything he contributed to my life.
1. He gave my my name.
My dad gave me my name. Ade (ah-day). Actually, it's Adesuwa and it means, "in the midst of wealth."
Growing up I detested my name because it was different and I wasn't even really sure how to pronounce it, but now? It's the very essence of who I am. Wealthy.
I consider myself wealthy in many aspects. I'm wealthy in love. My friends and family members are amazing and supportive. I'm wealthy in happiness, most of the time I'm smiling and laughing about one thing or another.
I'm an optimist. Nothing keeps me down too long.
2. He molded my identity.
My entire childhood, I had known only my maternal side, and I never truly fit in with them. My cousins were cool, but I was different. When I met my dad's side of the family, I completely fit in.
Suddenly everything made sense like finally finding that missing piece of a puzzle. I blended in and we all bonded so easily despite cultural differences.
Finally, I found myself.
3. He gifted me with his culture.
Without my father, I would have no culture. I will never forget the day I landed in Nigeria. I was only 14 years old, but I felt like I was finally home.
I immediately fell in love with the colorful fabric that adorned the beautiful brown skinned people selling fruit and other snacks on the street. The many languages, the street food that my father warned me not to eat (and I did anyway) and the family I almost never knew.
Despite its downfalls, Nigeria is amazing. I never would've known that if not for my father.
4. He exposed me to the world.
I've been to Europe numerous times. Amsterdam is amazing and I absolutely love London.
The benefit of meeting various people from all over the world, hearing different perspectives and experiencing other cultures is immeasurable. I'm beyond grateful for it.
5. He taught me responsibility.
I began flying alone to Europe to see my dad when I was 9 years old and it continued throughout my teenage years.
Traveling alone made me extremely responsible. I never missed a flight, I learned to manage my money and I practiced self-control during my never-ending layovers.
My mom is fantastic, but sometimes I wonder where I would be without the exposure and real-life experiences afforded to me by my dad. I'm glad she chose him.
Although there's silence now, I will never forget the boisterous love he once showed me.
I'll never forget the years he sent me postcards from Amsterdam every single day.
I'll never forget the fact that he could never stay mad at me.
I'll never forget the overwhelming excitement on his face whenever he picked me up from the airport.
I'll never forget who he used to be. It may have been easy for him to replace me, but there's no replacing him. That's another thing he taught me. To be irreplaceable.
As I write this, I don't really know how I feel. It's a sad story, a parent being taken away while still very much alive, but I don't feel so sad.
I'd be lying if I said I even think about it most days. At peace, perhaps, would be the best description. After years of wishing I could change things and make them go back to normal, I'm okay with it now...and I have been for a while.
Things change. Relationships change, sometimes for the worst. But memories don't.
We'll always have those, and that's something I celebrate.
When my family nags me to call him, I decline. Our conversations bring up old issues, my father makes a statement about how I abandoned him (the irony) or he starts an argument for lack of better ways to stretch the conversation.
Therefore, I've decided to love him from a distance.
But regardless of how great that distance is, one thing remains constant.
I will always love him.