It’s an early Sunday morning and I have been awoken by my grandfather’s knock on the door. Having found the couch a most comfortable place to sleep, I am almost always the first to open the door and know of his presence. This also comes with being the first to get the sweets which his pockets never seemed to be empty of. Those rare Sunday mornings formed the early memories I had of my grandfather. And those rare Sundays were how he spent his last years, he tried visiting the families of each of his children as much as possible.
As he lost strength due to age, he moved from his residence in Accra to settle in a village called Kpadape in the mid-western parts of Togo, close to the Ghanaian border – where most of his family lives now due to his father moving there and securing land in his youth. That resigned the responsibility of visiting and reaching out to us – his children and grandchildren. And like every man in his last days, he used the opportunity to tell us of his life stories and share pieces of advice, which to the annoyance of my cousins, who resided with him permanently, I found very entertaining.
Often dominating his conversation, was a school he helped build during his youth. He had led a group of young men of his age to construct a community school for the people of a village close to Ho in the Volta region of Ghana. He had a photo to prove it (wish i had the photo to share). Anytime he shared that story, he will call for that photo to be brought out so that we will see – it showed with a three other men in their youth standing in front of a newly built school. And he gave us vivid descriptions of its location, as if telling us to go look for it. I quickly realized that among his many works, this was a legacy that he was most proud of. He affectionately recounted how much of an impact bringing a school to that community had on the lives of its people. It became clear that beyond the family he was living behind, his greatest fulfillment came from the services he rendered to society. I could also discern that he wished he had done more of such social impact activities. He being the only grandfather I grew up to meet, I find myself going back to his memories whenever I have need of some ‘sage’ advice.
Leave a legacy: A lot of what my grandfather said in his last days spoke reflected the need to leave a legacy, something that the world will remember you for. Even if not the world, something that will deeply impact those around you. Not that he did this a lot during his days, but the fact that it was one of the few things he kept repeating showed how much he had come to value that contribution as he grew older.
Love more: This value I discerned not because he showed a lot of it, but for the very fact that he didn’t do as much. He had kept his family scattered in his youth. It was a while before his children from different mothers re-united. My mom, being one of the fiercest of the children always made sure he knew how much they didn’t appreciate that. But as common with all men in their last days, he tried to bring the family together and saw to it that he showered us (the grandchildren especially) with love that when he left, we missed him dearly.
To thine own self be true: I could not help but feel him becoming more care free in his last days. He said and did what he truly wanted. Maybe this is common to all men in their last days, but I liked him more for this. In a world where you are supposed to be so many things to so many people, it was rare to find people who were only what their true self could be. Anytime, I come across that verse “to thine own self be true”, my mind goes to him and to the so many others who dare/dared to live their own lives. Hopefully, I find enough strength to be true to my own self and contribute to the world what God has placed me here for.
I still remember how it felt, when I was told of his passing…I knew I would miss him dearly (he was my only grandpa!). As his funeral approached, I was asked as one of his eldest grandchildren to read a tribute to him. I sat quietly, close to a window in the library, and reflected while shedding a few tears about his life, and its influence on my life. While writing his tribute, I knew that the time will be soon that someone will write mine. I wish for that person to have felt all that I had to give fully to write one that will inspire others. To this, I choose to live my life fully, if not for anything, so that I will have a lot of interesting stories to tell my grandchildren.