My very Dad Fémi Ilésanmí left us suddenly on May 16, 2017 at the age of 78 in Ilorin, Nigeria.
Words fail me to describe the loss we all feel right now. How can words tell how much you loved, cared for, contributed to and served your family, your community, your neighbors, strangers, your surveying profession, your adopted town Ilorin, your nation and the world till the very end?
Daddy, you regularly reminded others that your name is “Olúwaférànmi” which means “God loves me”. You were conscious of your belovedness. Indiscriminately, you loved and contributed to everyone who came across your path.
Daddy, true to the Psalms you read while praying with Mummy (as was your custom for 45 years) on the morning of May 16, 2017 before you went home, you live on in our hearts and in our lives as an eternal excellency and the joy of many generations.
In hope, we mourn your departure because it is a loss far greater than words can express. With joy, we celebrate the life you lived because you loved all and lived every waking moment to the full. You left behind a name and a legacy we are proud to associate with and are privileged to carry forward.
You went home a victor. You fought a good fight, you fulfilled your calling and you kept the faith. The world is better because you lived.
You made a difference at home and abroad. You were loved without and within. You embodied your name, Ilésanmí, which means my home is a good place. You made your home a great place through discipline and many great memories. You attended and actively participated in every school event, including the parents race. You taught me how to ride a bicycle and knot a tie. You taught me to wake up a great while before dawn to pray and meditate and read and write and listen to Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and other classical music.
You woke us up every morning to bath for us. You woke us up in the middle of the night to talk to us – we did not like it then but we treasure it now. You played soccer with us and made swings for us to play on. You ensured there were lots of fruit trees in our yard to snack from and climb and you ensured there was grass on the field to play in. My sisters became great athletes by running in the yard with your encouragement. You took us to work on the farm when we didn’t have to. You joyfully called our attention again and again to a variety of bird songs and you helped me to love nature. You taught me to love my language ensuring that our morning devotions were in Yoruba.
Daddy, you taught me to leave a person, a place, a community not the same, not worse, but better than you met them. People came to you sad and left happy. I learnt responsibility by watching you pick up trash and clean up our yard and neighborhood although you could get others to do the dirty work for you.
I cannot count how many times you told me, “Tolu, I believe in you” when I struggled to believe in myself. Because of you, now believe I can fly, and I will soar. And thousands more are soaring because of you.
How can I not miss you? How can I be composed when I realize my Daddy who taught me how to live is no longer here? And as I allow myself to grieve in hope and shed tears at the departure of the best Father, teacher, mentor and role model, I am proud to be an Ilésanmí because of you and ready to live in a way that leaves the world better like you showed me.
On behalf of my Mom and my sisters and brothers, I say thank you Daddy for the gift you were. Thank you God for giving the world such a gift.
Ó dìgbòse bàbá mi. See you again Daddy.