A Pan-Am Flight from Lagos, Nigeria to New York in 1983: My fathers story and its impact on my life today
I worked from home for most of the day today. (I ate some bad salad at the Sankara Hotel yesterday evening).
In all seriousness- I never thought that I would say what I am about to say. Some may think this is too much for social media, but I’m prompted to still write this, as I believe that there are men who need to hear this. Contrary to the Social Media culture of today, I have an imperfect life. My heart in sharing this and the things that I have shared in the past on Social media is to simply incite positive dialogue that broadens world view, diversity in thought and gives encouragement.
My thoughts in solitude…..
I can honestly see why there has been a chronic epidemic of dead beat dads, fatherlessness, etc. I can understand the rationale of a father that decides to throw his hands up and say “I’m done”. Let me be clear…..my understanding of such rationale does not mean that I agree with it. I do not agree with it! I have a father who came to the U.S. in 1983 to the Bronx, NY. The story of my father, Valentine C. Dike, Sr. is everything to me. It is the core example of why I am who I am today. Like all parents, there are quarrels and disagreements. Some parents choose to persevere, others don’t. No discredit to either. Thankfully, my parents resolved to remain committed their vows. I remember in 1996, my dad and I were on a British Airways flight to Lagos from Heathrow. (Random fact- This is when their aircrafts were sky blue…why do I remember these things lol?). Btw- I have the memory of an elephant. I asked my dad if he could ask the flight attendant if I could see the cockpit. My dad made it happen. I turned to my dad and said “Thank you, daddy”. My dad say’s “Chijioke, I’m your father. You don’t have to thank me. If I’m not around in your life, your life will be quite different”. In retrospect years later, I thought that was a random comment. But I realized that his comment was a reflection of the things that were at the forefront of his mind.
When I experienced tragedy in 2013….the very first words out of my dads mouth was this: “Regardless of where God takes you in this world, do not forget about your children. Control your narrative and do your level best to stay present in their lives”. I teared up, shook my Dad’s hand and hopped out of his Toyota 4Runnner and walked into Terminal D at LaGuardia Airport to catch my flight back to Atlanta, GA. Ever since then, that is what I’ve done. From having to swallow my pride to drive Uber routes in between classes to pay for flights to see my little world-changers in Florida, to hustling to do mini-consulting projects to live, the motivation was to be able to be present.
After all, when my Dad came to the U.S. in 1983, he worked as security guard, cab-driver and was a full-time Information Systems college student at York College in Queens, NY all at the same time. I remember vividly with excitement, taking the train from the Bronx to Queens to watch my father and my Uncle Samuel graduate from York College. I remember standing next to my Dad in his cap and gown. Who would have known that I would be taking this same type of picture with my own kids at the graduation ceremony of my first Masters Degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. I think and I say “Man, my Dad is a winner”. My Dad has sown more seeds than he will ever know.
What about others like me?
What about other men like me that did not have the father like example that exuded grit and resilience? or a Father that taught me the importance of legacy and generational impact?
What would societies and communities look like today if more like me had this example of fatherhood? I venture to say this….The subject of Fatherhood is the elephant in the room that we need to unpack. I even venture to say that the lack of fatherhood is the crux of the issues that we experience in society today. I venture…
I need to get back to work now….