Thursday, December 4, 2008

The day I cried....(2)

Spontaneous. That's one of the many words that would describe my father. His spontaneity was quite infectious too! That's also one of the major ways he and my mom were different. If my mom hasn't thought long and hard about something - pros and cons and all - she won't take action. Not that he was reckless or anything, but my dad could just do things on the spur of the moment.

One beautiful Saturday afternoon, everyone was at home generally lounging. I'd passed the living room several times and seen my dad flipping through a magazine. At first I thought it was one of his numerous engineering catalogues but the animated look on his face meant otherwise. Soon after, he excitedly called us kids to come see something in the mag. We all wondered as we gathered round him. It was a home-improvement magazine and he had the page turned to a section on lighting fixtures. There were so many beautiful designs but a really nice-looking blue one had caught his attention and he was asking us what we thought. We simply looked at each other and shrugged non-committally as though to say "who cares what we think? What difference does it make anyway?" We readily agreed with him that it was indeed very nice. That was it. The gathering dispersed and my dad left he living room to go to his bedroom. Soon after, we heard the roar of his car engine as he drove out the gates. He could have been going to any number of places - the filling station or the mechanic workshop or even a friend's place.

Two hours later, he drove in and started offloading brown boxes of stuff from the car. Out of curiosity, we all ran outside wondering what the goodies were. There was a mischievous look on his face as he handed each of us the boxes to carry inside. We hurried with the carrying because the faster we did, the quicker we got to see what's inside. The excitement just kept building and daddy wasn't telling!

Finally we had all the boxes sitting on the living room center table and while we all watched, he opened the first box to reveal the same nice-looking blue lighting fixture we'd seen in the magazine just a few hours earlier! We were all like wow! Quickly we all unpacked the boxes. The electrician was called. In a few short hours, all the old light fixtures came down, the new ones went up and the appearance of the living room changed! It certainly did feel as though Christmas was in the air even though it was still mid-year then. My dad could do that to you.

If he saw a car he liked or even a beautiful house, he'd draw your attention to it excitedly and if it was close enough for you to touch, he'd ask you to place your hand on it and get the feel of it cos "one day, it could be yours"! He had really big dreams and he liked to talk about them too.

My parents have 9 kids and the first five are girls. It was from my dad that I learnt that being a girl was no excuse for mediocrity. Being a girl didn't mean you were weak and so needed some guy to do 'everything' for you. You just had to be strong and take charge of your life! Taking charge of your life for him meant having a solid academic foundation and that was what he consistently sought to give us. Taking charge of your life also meant being able to handle a few 'masculine' chores yourself.

On environmental sanitation days, it was us girls who were out there with the guys doing the extra work of cleaning out the gutters and shoveling sand off the sidewalk! I learnt how to wash and wax a car so well because I often did it for my father. My dad personally taught me how to change a flat tire so I won't be stranded on the road if I ever had one!

Whenever I think of the many triumphs of faith we experienced with my dad, I am inspired again and again. My dad was a man of great faith! It's amazing how he was able to show his faith in everyday living.

There was a period in time when his company had all but folded up. Those were really tough times and even us kids knew that things were no longer the way they used to be. We had meetings in the mornings with mom where we all decided what meal to miss. Mostly we preferred to miss lunch. Several times the little ones were sent home from school with a note from the headmistress asking when the fees would be paid. It was bad but daddy seemed to take it all in his stride. In fact, he actually told us that he was glad we were experiencing this hardship because life was not always easy and it would teach us to be strong.
One of those days was really exceptionally bad and there was not a dime anywhere. We didn't even have the luxury of two meals for the day. My dad declared a fast. He said we were not going to go anywhere but stay indoors fasting and praying till something happened. He made sure we were not enveloped by gloom or filled with sadness over the grim prospects before us. Every few hours, we gathered to sing praises, we prayed and read of bible heroes of faith. By 3pm, most of us were really famished and mom quickly threw together a little meal for us who could not continue. Mom and dad were going to continue theirs for the rest of the day.
There was a calmness in the house. Not a gloomy kind of calm but a hopeful one. There were stirrings of faith in our hearts but we weren't quite sure what the outcome would be.

Around 6pm, there was knock on the front door. A man wanted to see my dad.It turned out he'd been driving past our road for close to 2hrs looking for my dad's company. He had no idea that the office had relocated and most of the company's operations were now being carried out from within our living room! (The former office was just opposite the house).
Bottom line - He urgently needed a long list of heavy duty engine parts required for some work the next day and he'd checked all other companies he thought would have them but they were out of stock. My dad's place was his last port of call and if he didn't get them here, he'd give up and go home. It turned out that my dad had everything he had on his list and the man paid cash! It was the single largest sale in several years! We were all short of words! It was a miracle!! God answered!! Oh how we sang that night. We sang with our hearts. We sang with our bodies. We sang! That miracle brought tears to my eyes. I cried tears of joy. Words were not enough but neither were the tears too. Nothing could suffice - would suffice.

In my young heart, I saw faith work wonders. I found that there was nothing we could not achieve if we would only believe. That became our lifestyle as a family. We prayed about anything and everything. We watched God work in our favour time and time again except for once. There was one prayer that God did not answer. One unanswered prayer that caused me to cry like I have never done in my entire life nor ever will again. Just one.