Behind a successful woman is a man, her father

Its been two years and a month since my late papa rested. It is amazing, though, how I intensely feel his presence and protection, as I go about the business of living. I randomly remember things that he told me and or those that others said he told them about his aspirations for me. It always seems as though the remembrance comes at the right time. It is jolting, when at the right time, I remember a promise that I made to him, about what happens after he transitions on to the spirit world. These memories keep me going. They are the source of my healing. They are the source of my joy. And they are the source of my confidence as I take on challenges I though insurmountable.

This morning, for example, I was looking for some official documents, and I found the “application form for entry to all full time courses” that I completed and got accepted into Queen Margaret College (now Queen Margaret University) in Edinburgh Scotland.

My passport photo which was pasted onto my application to Queen Margaret College, 1989.

Reading through my application has reminded me that unlike many young people these days, who struggle with completing application forms on their own, my papa was there to mentor me and to ensure that I fill out a winning application. In my adult professional life, I have reviewed a number of applications in which the applicant has missed the opportunity by deciding to leave blank the section: “ANY OTHER INFORMATION.” I recall that I too was tempted to leave that section blank, but papa would not allow it for my college application.

The information I provided Queen Margaret College in 1989, in the section “ANY OTHER INFORMATION” on my college application.

Those days, by the way, our applications were either completed handwritten and for those of us who could we typed them. I had learn’t typing in ‘O-Level’ at Tororo Girls School and papa had bought for me an electronic typewriter; whatever became of it, I wonder. Anyway, I first had to hand-write the answers to my application, get papa to approve them, before I typed them into the application form, error free. Yes, he proof-read the typed application, before I submitted it.

Thirty one years later, reading my application form, I see words and phrases that were of my father that I adopted. Phrases like “I am favourantly desirous in fathering my studies …”, sincerely were not me then and I think are still not me now. What is the more important to me, is deducing clearly from my application form that papa’s influence was not an imposition but a gentle guide for me to articulate and go for what I wanted. As a communication expert now and a cultural anthropologist, I am amazed that this is what I have always wanted to be. “My field of interest is communication studies. This is because communication studies can enable me have an access to a wider world where one would meet, deal, and interact with different types of people and know how to deal with them,” I wrote then.

It was going to be my first time abroad, living on my own and so that bit about “I am informed that Queen Margaret College is predominantly a women’s college of higher education” was papa’s. I couldn’t have cared less ha ha ha. Anyway, this wonderful memory of working on my college application with the help of papa has filled me with immense joy and has reminded me of how he loved me so. His spirit and that of my ancestors continue to watch over me. I am blessed.

With papa, long after I returned from college and was a gainfully employed working woman; a high level executive of a nonprofit organisation. Papa was proud!

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