Death of an unknown father

2008-06-05 00:00

While I was growing up it used to bother me when other children would talk about their dads. I would wonder why my dad was not there for me. My parents divorced when I was about seven years old and from then on I have been with my mother. I never had any type of relationship with my father. We moved from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal in1986 and he never made any attempt to contact us or visit.

My life would have probably turned out differently had he been part of it and his death would have affected me in a different way. Now it’s too late for both of us because he has died.

When I first thought about sharing my feelings, a friend of mine suggested that I should not as she thought that it was too personal. Not wanting to argue, I agreed.

I buried my father on May 17. To be honest, I really did not know how to react when I was told about his death.

At the service, I heard about what kind of man he was. He was a social butterfly, an intellectual and a sportsman; the list went on. His younger brother even described him as a genius who showed a great passion for teaching.

Speakers seemed to be singing his praises but one particularly stood out as he described my father as sarcastic and funny. For a brief moment I saw myself in him (for those who know me I’m extremely funny although misunderstood at times.) Suddenly I could feel that I was getting angry, not at him but at the circumstances that made him distance himself from me or whatever had made him think that we would be better off without him in our lives.

Throughout the service I was an ocean of emotions but one thing was certain: I was not going to cry. Why would I give him the satisfaction? I now, of course, have three more siblings whom I met at the funeral. One thing remains unchanged; we are dealing with a God who is always on time and nothing he does is a mistake.

My dad died at a time when I had decided that I would give him an opportunity to explain his side of the story but I guess it is now too late for both of us. So many questions will remain unanswered about my father and that is a chapter that I need to close in my life, as difficult as it might seem. It saddens me deeply that I cannot remember him with fondness. I have no memories about him that I can treasure.

How do I forgive a person who has never shown any remorse or tried to make amends? I have decided to be the bigger person by forgiving my father and myself for all the mistakes that we have made.

Strange as it may sound, I love my father. He gave me life and in turn I have given life to a son whom I love dearly. But I cannot help but feel that I have been cheated out of my anger now that my father has died. I have come to learn that anger does nothing but eat away at you and in this case it would be nothing but a wasted emotion. I console myself with the thought that there is a reason why things happened the way that they did.

Change in your life happens when you start by changing the person you see in the mirror.

May his soul rest in peace.

• Nandipha Ngomane works for the Department of Land Affairs and writes in her personal capacity.

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