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In Memory of Aseme-Alabo Dr. Asemeyibo Henry Buowari-Brown, JP. (1949 – 2014)

October 17, 2015

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die – Thomas Campbell

My father, my king, my hero. Where do I start? There are  no amount of words that can describe my father enough so I will just write a few words. They say to live in the hearts of those we love is to never die. Death is the last chapter in time, but the first chapter in eternity. A thousand words won’t bring him back, I know because I’ve tried, neither will a million tears, I know because I’ve cried. Each happiness of yesterday is a memory for tomorrow. Always on my mind; forever in my heart.

That faithful morning of Friday, October 17, 2015 (or evening of Thursday, October 16, 2015 – Mexico Time) – I still struggle to agree within my inner self which one is apt – will never be the same. There are so many things life prepares you for as one goes through the years however, losing a parent is not really one of them…

Two weeks earlier I had just returned from the long winding journey to Tijuana, Mexico via a complex route, which I would rather not bore you with. Mexico, like Nigeria is a 3rd world country grappling with virtually everything we as Nigerians deal with daily except in my personal opinion – but they are a tad poorer. Despite being next door neighbours to the almighty United States, they are a sad story of how  a kilometre of highway can separate progress and backwardness – a discussion for another day.

My mission as always was the same one which had taken me there for the first time- to visit my sick father in hospital at a place called Hope for Cancer Centre otherwise called Rapha Clinic. At the end of the whole journey, I lost any hope in that place coming to the conclusion that those Mexican cancer centres are the biggest sham of the 21st century, just giving people false sense of hope only to milk them dry of their hard earned money. For anyone who has experienced the staged deterioration of a cancer patient, you will understand what I mean.

Back to my story. I had just entered my office getting ready to settle down to work when my phone rang and it was my father on the line. Because the time difference between London and Mexico was 9 hours, we had to call at odd hours to be able to catch each other  and it was about his bedtime. He said “Gogsman, how na?” Despite all that changed throughout his illness, his voice was not one of them. You could tell distinctly he was the one on the line each time he spoke. “So how was your trip back? So when are you coming back?” “But Daddy, I just got back.” “Ehn, I know. But when are you going to come again.” I was about to respond then held back my initial response and calmly said “We agreed end of the month na”.

We were actually making arrangements to fly him back home as he had actually completed his treatment and the center did not have  much more to offer him. However, due to  his physical state, there was only one option left – an air ambulance – for which arrangements had commenced but were yet to be finalised.

“End of the month will be too late,” he said. “You need to come quickly – we need to talk man-to-man.” It was at that moment that I knew that he had made up his mind and was ready to go – it was tough, it was hard, it was painful. I realised he was serious and told him I was going to come soon, that I just needed to speak with my boss and get permission from work, once again.

You know in life God uses different people to touch you in different ways. Sometimes, even those who appear to be against you are somehow helping you develop in ways you would not appreciate at the time. in  my brief lifetime, I have had a fair dose of them all. I have mentors –from spiritual to academic to professional and friends – yes, friends who are my mentors. I spoke to them all and they all said one thing – if he has sent for you, better go and go quickly. My ever-understanding boss turned friend and older brother I never had was as supportive as ever and so off I went again.

Those who know me well know that I live in the skies but trust me, that long journey to Tijuana was not a happy one. I always transited through the border at San Diego, a lovely coastal city however, due to the circumstances around my journeys I could not appreciate it all.

To cut a long story short, I arrived Tijuana once again, met my father and for two hours plus, I listened as he summarised his life and existence and gave my clear instructions on what to do. Now I was in a dilemma – what have I just heard? How do I keep this to myself and how do I prepare for the coming days – it was tough, hard and painful.

When he finished, he asked me: “any questions?” I blanked and said “no, no questions.” Who wouldn’t? I mean how does a man  handle it when your father tells you he is leaving for good and you should do this and do that and take care of this and take care of that and follow up with this and follow up with that etc. Only by the grace of God which is something no one should take for granted as you never realise how much it can support you until you are down there.

The plan was to spend only 2 days but after such a discussion, I ended up staying the whole week and as the days went by, the questions started coming and answers were provided. Phone calls were made to those he needed me to speak with, as some would cynically want to confirm if he was still alive because of the instruction I was passing down. In the end, we thank God for everything.

While in hospital, my father like every medical doctor turned patient was as stubborn as they come arguing persistently with the doctors. In return, or as a result of his persistence, they did one thing – they treated him as a colleague and reviewed every action and/or procedure with him just as if he was going to perform the procedure on another patient – himself! They simply called him “Doc” and he had a nurse – Marianne who took special care of him. Marianne recently had a baby and I had the privilege of going back to Tijuana to visit her – my first since my father passed on. God bless her and her family.

Anyway  as I left Mexico once again to return back to base, at his prompting, my father and I agreed a covenant. On an appointed day, if he remains alive, I could  take him home.  This action never sunk in until the news came from Mexico that he had finally passed on. The events that followed were what one of my aunties described as my “fast-track education on adulthood”.

God bless the entire Finima Elders’ Council for support that I cannot quantify, the Finima Youths’ Leaders, past and present, The Duawaris and so many others. On the faithful day that I returned to Nigeria with the remains of my father, the whole community stood still and received me –an honour and privilege you cant buy anywhere in the world. Everyone put aside their differences and came together.

Even when you know that it is about to happen, like I did, you never fully come to terms with the magnitude of the loss until it actually happens. Then you have to go through the various stages of grieving – denial, acceptance, reality and life – yes, life! Some things cannot be described but they happen. From the expected to the absurd to the shocking,  fault lines become visible and the true character traits of many begin to show. However,  as the head of the family, your job is to remain focused, always act fairly but firmly and indeed decisively – never an easy task.

As Chief and Head of Buoye Omuso (Brown) Duawari and Amadabo of Finima, my father played his role with passion. It is never easy to be a blue blood. The expectations are high, the standards must be kept and he never failed. He loved everyone so passionately that it dumbfounded me sometimes especially when it involved those who were visibly seen as his enemies – there’s lots to learn from him even in death. I mean how can you keep your calm knowing fully well Mr. X you are dealing with is the same person who just stabbed you in the back? But he did and he did it gracefully.

My father had an infectious smile, no wonder he attracted many and many came to him. Everyone mostly knew him as Yibo, Uncle Yibo and as a child I felt we were denied his fatherliness because he had to take care of everybody’s problem even before his own. I am learning to fill those big shoes – expectations as usual so high but the standard must be kept for his name’s sake.

His burial program was a carnival. I had lost so much weight that some friends were worried I was going to pass out but I didn’t not because I was superhuman but because of the grace of God, the love and prayer of family and the support of the community and well-wishers who thronged in their numbers to pay my father his last respects.

Companies operating in the host community – Finima were ably represented with Nigeria LNG leading the way.. I felt honoured by my colleagues who went above and beyond the call of duty to make it happen in ways that cannot be quantified.

Friends were amazing with the amount raised in support of my father’s funeral was mind-boggling. The commitment some put into the burial program – inestimable! My cousin – Inye was out of this world. God will continue to bless everyone including those who could not make it down. One of my mentors said to me – “don’t be angry with anyone who didn’t come” and I didn’t digest its full meaning until now. You know it can be painful when you think you mean a lot to someone and expect he or she to be there for you too but not everyone can be there and everyone has a good reason why they can’t be there. One friend simply couldn’t attend a burial – and I respected that. So I don’t hold it against anyone.

There is never a good time to die and what  matters most is how we lived our lives while on earth. No matter the theories from all faiths about life, existence and beyond, no human being alive today has experienced death so we continue to believe what our individual faith tells us – until we meet our Creator someday. That day will come for each and every one of us. Sadly but to the glory of God, my father’s sunset had come – who am I to judge and ask God why? All I can do is give glory and bless Him.

Since the passing of my father, I have had friends who have lost either or both parents. Prior to this time, whenever it happened to a friend, I was usually lost for words, as you can never know what it feels like until you experience it. It is like childbirth – only a woman who has been through it can tell you how it feels. No textbook can give you the full picture. Now, I am a consultant cum advisor and some people say I am suffering from post-paternal loss trauma. I disagree. Life is just a journey and we shall someday all come to that end point so while you still have time, live.

Sleep on my old man.  I know you are in a better place. Where there is no cancer, no pain, no sorrows. Just souls hanging out with their Creator until we meet again…sleep on my father, my hero, my King.

From → General

  1. Anonymous permalink

    Thank God for the life of your Dad , Dagogo. He is indeed in a better place. May his soul continue to rest in perfect peace.Amen *hugs*

  2. AleeshaRich permalink

    Wooowwww!!!! Couldn’t keep reading….could not hold the tears.
    God be with you Dags. My deepest condolences. Be rest assured your father is by God’s right hand smiling down at you with pride. Remain blessed.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Thank you. I knew your father and saddened to read he died. God bless you and your family.

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