In celebration of Father’s Day coming up I dedicate this entry to my old man whom without I would never be the man I am today.
A strong sturdy trunk of values and morals anchors itself with thick roots of tradition and culture deep into the soil. From its succulent branches of wisdom and support a bouquet of freshly green leaves of advice, experience and love sprout like wild fire. Big red apples are on display amongst the foliage. The tree is the fruits protector. It gave them life. It is the safety they need. It pumps them filled with nutrients. Lets them grow up strong out of harms way until one day they become capable of being alone, healthy and a bit to heavy to hold anymore. They fall from the branch one at a time when the gusty winds of life blow and hit the ground of reality hard. The slightly bruised apple rolls away from the big protector. Rolls away to make its own home, its own big tree and give life to its own little apples.
As far as the saying, ‘the apple does not fall from the tree’, goes I can see the relevance it has to the relationship I have with my father. I think it applies to a select few because I certainly fell pretty far from the tree. Unlike my brother, a year younger than me, my father and I are two different people entirely. He is a numbers man. I prefer words. He is very business orientated. I am creatively inclined. He sticks to the rules. I like to break them. He likes the quiet and peaceful. I like it loud and chaotic. He meditates. I medicate. He prays while I play. But my brother on the other hand is the splitting image of my father both inside and out. They share more things in common then I could ever. The only common ground that I stand on with my father is our love for sports especially our passion and fandom for Liverpool FC. Every weekend when the game was on we would sit together cheering on the mighty Reds. It was the only times we bonded over something so much. This is the one thing my brother has not got in common with him. So even if I rolled further away from the tree unlike my brother who basks in the shadow of my old man, it doesn’t mean that my father hasn’t taught me anything.
Growing up I had whatever I could want. I was given the opportunities to grow in a world where I never had to struggle for anything. My fathers’ life revolved around making us, his family, happy and working as hard as he could to do that. I am very proud to be his son. My father started of with nothing. Him and my mother stayed in a one-bedroom apartment when they first got married. They slept on the floor because they couldn’t afford a bed. Years of hard work would finally pay of. He grew from strength to strength. His résumés speaks for itself. He served as the Deputy-Director General of Treasury for the Gauteng Provincial Government. He then served as Acting Head of Department, Finance and Economic Affairs at Gauteng. He was involved in GEAR reform initiatives. He was appointed Chief Executive of Blue IQ, an economic infrastructure investment programme that included some projects like the Gautrain, Nelson Mandela Bridge, Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown and much more. My father then moved on to Transnet where he served as Group Executive for Maria Ramos and Head of the Strategy and Transformation Unit. The list still continues. He did a brief stint at Absa Capital taking on the responsibility of HR, marketing and communications but he left to work for the South African Reserve Bank where he currently is Chief Operating Officer. All of this in the past 25 years. Massive shoes that I would never be able to fill. But my father inspires me to do great things in my life and has taught me that with hard work you can achieve anything you want. He made sure I follow my dreams of being a writer. Gave me the educational opportunities to become just that. Never judged my choices of what I wanted to do with my life. Pushed and encouraged me to go after what I want. He made me see my potential.
One attribute I will always take away from him is the amount of compassion he shares with us and the world around him. My father has been a generous man his entire life even when he had nothing to give he would make a plan. Besides providing this life I have been given he has also been influential in other people’s lives. From strangers to distant family and friends of friends he has put many through school and varsity, built temples for the community he grew up in, gave so much to those in need and still always made sure we were not ignored. My father is a very wise man and has taught me that life is what you make it. But he is also a human being. All humans no matter how good are capable of making mistakes. That’s what makes us human and my father is no exception. But what he exemplifies is that after you make that mistake it is how you deal with the consequences of it. It is how you change your ways and behavior to never make that mistake again. It is about accepting the blame and learning from it. He has always been a forgiving person and I am thankful for that. My track record was never any good. Lots of inappropriate shenanigans got me in trouble all the time when growing up but the old man never held a grudge. He always helped me out of a sticky mess, kept his cool, was patient, advised me, forgave me and loved me non-the less.
I have a big heart because of him. I care a lot. I am passionate just like him. There are a lot of his wise words instilled into my basic fabric. I am alive because of him. He has taken care of me and still continues to do so. Even though I will never wear the old man clothes he does or follow his vegan diet. I wont get involved in trying yoga or love Indian music as much as him. I wont be able to hold him on a very intellectual conversation like my brother or entertain him with what I think is funny. I don’t follow tradition like he does or indulge in his love of fishing. He may be balding while I still have my thick locks. He does not drink or smoke while I do both. He finds things interesting that I perceive as stupid and vice versa. I hate when he is always right even when he always makes me understand where he comes from. All I do know is that I love my father very much, he loves me equally so – maybe even more – and I thank him for making me who I am today.