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Reliving The Day! Toyosi Phillips Writes Heart Warming Tribute to her Father 17 Years After His Passing Away

Toyosi Phillips

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IMG_4728It was in the house I had always known as “Bode Thomas” that the news was broken. First I saw my dad’s older brother and then his younger sister and suddenly there were several familiar faces around. I heard someone say gently to my grandpa, “Taiwo ti s’alaisi”. Minutes later I heard my mum making her way up the stairs, screaming, “Toyosi, daddy is gone”. I didn’t fully understand what she was saying but I burst out crying because hearing her cry that hard was upsetting and all the people who had appeared from nowhere looking pensive, not quite sure what to say or do, had frightened me. I was 11 years old.

I had gone to my paternal grandpa’s house after school as I almost always did. A normal day at his house was one where I told him about my day, then had lunch which the cook always served without meat- I got that after I was done eating the “main food”- then did my homework, had my grandpa check for errors, had fried plantain as pre-dinner, waited for my dad to get me when he was done from work, got excited when I saw him, kissed my grandpa goodbye and went home with my dad.

June 23 1998 was not a normal day. Death visited my family and left with my dad.
I remember the events like they happened yesterday. 5:30 pm and he still hadn’t shown up to get me. I was fidgety and convinced that he had forgotten about me. How could he forget about me? I was his only child! Where did he go? Who made him forget about me? These were the questions going through my head and I couldn’t wait for him to show up so I could ask them. As I sat with my grandpa flipping those thoughts in my head, he was told he had a visitor- the Provost of our church Very Rev. (Dr) Segun Okubadejo. It wasn’t strange that the provost was visiting but I remember thinking why so late? I was happy to see him though. His white beard reminded me of “Father Christmas”. He hugged me, asked me all the questions that 11 year olds are asked and then began to speak with my grandpa. Nothing major. Just the usual, “how is this person and how is that person?” and then it got really quiet. His excuse was that he was waiting for someone. I went back to thinking “how could my dad forget me at Bode Thomas?”But I remember wondering why it was so quiet. It felt weird.

Moments later, I didn’t have to wonder any longer. All those people came in and I burst into tears. Someone held me but I don’t remember who. People were crying, some were whispering, some sighing but it all sounded like one sad hum. Above that hum though, I remember hearing clearly, my mum’s voice over and over again saying, “daddy is gone”.

My dad was my first love. What I felt for him was love, fear, awe and reverence all mixed together to form one powerful emotion. He was a quiet, unassuming man whose favorite spot in the world was his house. I learned to understand his looks; looks that put me in check whenever I misbehaved. My stories (and I had lots of those) were shared with him. My singing, dance moves, cries of injustice, ambitions… everything was shared with him. He was the first human I felt any sort of connection with, the first human I loved and in my little eyes he could do no wrong. Taiwo Olawale Phillips was perfect.

After he passed away, people kept telling me that he had lived long and I should be grateful for the time I spent with him, grateful for how long I’d had him around considering that for the 44 years of his life he had lived with the dreaded Sickle Cell Disease.

I knew he was often in pain but the concept of Sickle Cell was something I couldn’t grasp. I just saw the bloated feet, the puffy face, the off-white eyes, the struggle to walk and act normal when he was in pain and I didn’t even know the pain was referred to as “a crisis” at that time. All I knew was that my little body would have shared that pain if it could.  My bones would have gladly relieved his of what they were going through; but all I ever did… could ever do…was stand by, while others tended to him, and quietly say, “Sorry daddy”.

One thing I’m truly grateful for is the memories I have of him. Amazing memories! I remember times I made him smile and feel very proud like when I got the lead role in “Annie” and when I won those birthday “dancing competitions”. I remember him smiling the hardest though, when I said something he deemed exceptionally intelligent. The day I said, “NEPA is just for destruction and not for construction” must have been one of the happiest days of his life. 17 years later, I remember this statement and day vividly because he took me to my grandpa and made me repeat it with a huge smile on his face.

I look back at the days I attended “grown up” parties with him; the days he came running to my room because I’d woken up screaming… afraid of the dark. I remember the walks to get Suya at UTC and ice cream at “HighStreet”, the Sweet Valley books he got me reading, the Kids Praise songs he played as he dropped me off at school, the stories he made up to get me to keep my hands inside the car while he drove, the songs he made up just for me, his laugh, his frown, his ruler on my knuckles as punishment, him starting every chastisement with, “Toyosi, Toyosi, Toyosi, how many times did I call you?” and my response almost always being, “I didn’t count”.

I look back at everything and I am grateful – grateful that the memories I have of a father who truly loved me and proved it in his words and deeds. A father who let me express and be myself and never made me feel like anything was impossible. He let me climb trees to get apples at our family friend’s house. He let me put on my one-man shows, let me run, let me dance, let me pull up the handbrake when he parked. He let me be ME, and for this I’ll always be grateful.

To everyone living with Sickle Cell, I want to say Well Done! You continually handle levels of pain beyond what regular minds can comprehend. You are the true epitome of strength and resilience and I pray for continued grace and strength for you.

To everyone else, especially those not familiar with Sickle Cell Anemia, it is a preventable, inherited blood disorder and you can read up on it here http://www.sicklecelldisease.org/index.cfm?page=about-scd. There are also tons of organizations and foundations looking for cures and catering exclusively to people living with the Anemia; two of which are the Morak Children Sickle Cell Foundation and the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. Feel free to show them love and support.

To Taiwo, my first love and personal angel, I miss you and I love you.

Toyosi Phillips is a Lagos-based producer, presenter and writer. She produced and hosted “The Gist with Toyosi Phillips”, an entertainment show on SaharaTV New York for two seasons and co-hosted Sahara FM's weekly radio show from 2014 to 2015. She guest-writes for different publications including Bellanaija and Genevieve Magazine and is quick to mention to everyone that she saw Oprah at the 2016 Essence Festival in New Orleans. Her vlog turned talk show, "As Toyo Sees" will be airing on networks world wide soon. For more news and updates, - Subscribe to her YouTube channel (Toyosi Phillips) - Check out her website www.toyosiphillips.com - Follow and interact with her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn @toyosiphillips

31 Comments

  1. dhee

    June 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Oh my God! Toyosi,this was a wonderful tribute your father. May you find the strength to live on with such sweet memories of him. #e-hugs to you

  2. mimi

    June 23, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Thank you for this #cyberhugs#

  3. Miss

    June 23, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I feel your pain. May his soul continue to rest in peace. First cut is truly the deepest……miss my dad too.

  4. Young african

    June 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Had tears in my eyes after reading this tribute. I know 1st hand the pain the sickle cell anaemia can cause in a family-my sister was born with it and am grateful to God everyday for her life. She’s happily married to the most understanding and loving man and has a precious little kid. I still remember when we were younger and we had to sleep with a burning stove in our room cos of the cold and NEPA didn’t give us light to use heater, the days we had to cuddle up in the hospital room and do all sorts to keep her mind away from the pain, constant reminding to use her medication…so many memories. In it and through it all, God has been faithful. She turns 30 in a few weeks and we are planning an elaborate celebration by visiting an orphanage to celebrate with the less privileged ones. To everyone out there, do what you can to help those affected, spread love!

  5. HappyChild

    June 23, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Awww, this is so sweet and touching, May his soul continually rest in peace. We have about two things in common though, I lost my dad when i was 11 years old too and his name was Taiwo. Three things actually, my granny was in the house when my mum walked in late that night to break the news with some of her siblings ( She had been called suddenly earlier that day and rushed out). They asked me and my siblings to go to our rooms but I lingered by the corridor and heard as she said to my Granny “Taiwo ti ku” (Autopsy revealed Pneumonia Bronchitis), I felt a sudden rush through my body and just fell to the ground and stared blankly, i didn’t want to believe what i had just heard. It was a really painful and difficult period, he was only 38 when he passed, my mum was 37 with 4 kids. I still have vivid memories of him, he was fun and lively, he had pet names for all of us and smuggled us out of the house for adventures without mum’s permission (She was the party popper and the disciplinarian) we would return home and she would be forming vex (every single time!) , he would start singing to placate her and we would be drumming and backing him up. The first time i had a “toaster” he was the one i told, my mum would have smacked the hell outta me for even allowing a guy look at me,lol. He knew all the hairstyles by name and would specifically ask that my mum plait it for my sister and I, he would buy us earrings and fashionable wears, mum on the other hand wasn’t too concerned with fashion trends. I remember his first attempt at cooking when my mum was at the hospital for the birth of our last born, it was a disaster but we gleefully ate it knowing that ice cream, chocolates and all sorts of ijekuje would follow. Its will be 15 years this October and i will be getting married early next year and i still cry at the thought of him not meeting the man i’ll be spending the rest of my life with but God has been a father to us and my mother has a been a strong Pillar for us all (She didn’t remarry). Happy father’s day to our fathers.

    • 1 + The One

      June 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Awww this is such a beautiful comment..

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      This and the original article evoked some strong emotions. I’m very glad that I finally came back to open this page.

  6. ta

    June 23, 2015 at 11:37 am

    wow your memories are so vivid and you were able to pack so much in a 11yrs! miss mine too.

  7. honestmum

    June 23, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Toyosi, i cried while reading this…. Your dad was truly an amazing man and you should be very proud of him.
    may his soul continue to rest in peace

  8. wunmi

    June 23, 2015 at 11:58 am

    sending u e-hugs dearie. May his soul continue to rest in peace and well done on the sickle cell awareness

  9. @edDREAMZ

    June 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    May his soul RIP…
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  10. Mimi O

    June 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Such vivid memories and a fitting tribute. I’m too certain he’s extremely proud of the woman you’ve become Toyoo, I know I am. Keep living, he’ll never stop smiling down on you. xx

  11. honey

    June 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Whao. My eyes welled up with tears after reading this.

    I am glad you had such good memories with him. Cos no matter how long you spend with your parents, it is these type of memories we pray for.

  12. Zayt

    June 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Beautiful piece! May the souls of the departed rest in peace!

  13. Moyo

    June 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Dear Toyosi, may your Dad’s soul rest in peace. I lost my Dad 14 years ago I know how it feels

  14. B

    June 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    aww…Beautiful piece. I still remember when i read that of Kiss daniel and all i could think of , was that i don’t have such memories of my dad and i doubt if i would miss him when he is gone. Though some of my siblings are close to him, its just the way it is. Say NO to Polygamy. As it is now , My future hubby must be involved in our children’s lives, its a must!!!. I dont ever want any child of mine to feel the way myself and my sisters’ felt growing up. Happy Fathers day to the REAL Fathers out there.

  15. Strit Kredibility

    June 23, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Beautiful and touching. Please take solace from the fact that, he was such a good and caring father who left so much to be grateful for.

  16. Annie Mbz

    June 23, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes, the thought of losing my immediate younger bro someday who has been bathling with d disease for almost 25 yrs of his life scares the hell out me. He is my hero, d strongest guy i know, i dnt think anyone can face wat he has been facing even with his skinny body… The nights with his crisis is lyk a day i dnt want to describe here, and den in d middle of it he will manage to wear a smile and say “you all know am sorry am keeping u ppl up”.and den in d morning he will be d first to get ready to go to d small work he is managing to keep himself busy. One thing i know abt them is that they are strong willed.
    please anyone knows what drug or probably any advice on the issue of their erection disorder (am talking about d male folks) cos sometimes he has that too and that happens when their blood is frozen in dat region, his on own can last upto 4hrs sometimes ( i mean intense pain in that region for as long as 4hrs, due to lack of blood flow) ? any clue will be apprecited…. Thanks Toyosi 4dis write up, am sure ur Dad is over proud of the woman u av become. Cheers!

    • chiclero

      June 23, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      You should talk to a haematologist about the option of using Hydroxyurea. It reduces their sickling episodes.

    • Temz

      June 23, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Hey Annie, sickle cell “priapism” is what I think you’re talking about. OMG it is the worst thing ever. The main trick to sickle cell is to stay hydrated. As far as priapism, you might want to take your bro to a urologist. Hate to say it but there’s little to nothing that can cure priapism. A urologist might be able to prescribe some medication that could help keep it under control such as etilephrine or pseudoephedrine. The list goes on…… It’s so sad! I’ve heard a change in diet too might help with sickle cell in general but you know how it goes….. we just have to keep trying this and that to see what might do the trick. My heart goes out to everyone living with this horrible disease. May GOD almighty continue to strengthen you all as you are the true definition of “warrior”!

    • Derry

      June 24, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Annie, please, please do not nourish the thoughts of losing him. It will only make you live in fear. Please stay strong.

      I lost my younger brother to sickle cell 11 years ago. He was 21, the closest person to me, and a a shinning star!!! I loved him silly 🙂

      I bless God for the precious memories that he left with me.

      Love your brother as HARD as you can, never ever give in to the fear of losing him

      Cyber hugs

  17. Ijeoma

    June 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    This was such a beautiful tribute and sounds like your dad was amazing father. May God continue to grant you and your family the fortitude to bear his loss.

  18. tamy

    June 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Touching tribute,wantd to jst read d frst few lines bt found myslf readin evrytin to d last comment(which r all beautiful esp dose who shared deir own loss). May God gran us d grace to be greater than our parents,and fr dose who dont/didnt hv REAL fathers,remembr God is d ultimate father and your mom is/was a superwoman to combine d two roles…happy father’s day to the REAL fathers

  19. Blue

    June 23, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    On a lighter note, I remember the story of a young man telling his mum that his grandma is old enough to die at 82 years and the mother replied ”my mother will not die in Jesus’ name”……that’s just to show that, no matter how old our parents are, they are never old enough, the memories are never enough.
    I am glad that you had so much fun with you dad in those 11 years. Many his star continue to shine on you. He must be proud of the woman you are today!

  20. Adaeze Writes

    June 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Awwww….this brought tears to my eyes. I am sure that in the heavens, your father is reading this touching tribute and he loves you with all his heart. May his soul continue to rest in God’s bosom.

  21. Aramide Phillips

    June 23, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Nice write up Big sis… it’s a pity I didn’t know much about my second daddy.

  22. Taunte

    June 24, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Toyosi I’m sure you’re dad is smiling at you and proud of the lady you’ve become….
    May his soul continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord?

  23. JEWELS

    June 24, 2015 at 7:15 am

    A really touching tribute. It’s exactly one month today since i lost my own father. I am still scared and have so many questions.
    I am grateful that God allowed him to be in my life even though what hurts me the most is he won’t be around to see his grand kids as i would have wanted/wished. He was the best dad ever. May our departed dads continue resting in God’s bosom.

  24. Annie Mbz

    June 24, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Thanks @[email protected] i appreciate. Tnks BN for sharing

  25. Ladi

    June 24, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Hey friend,

    Loved this tribute and knowing you am sure you wrote it balling but I am so proud you put pen to paper to remember him and those that live with Sickle cell anaemia. You have truly touched a-lot of hearts with this tribute, so thank you.

    P.S: you should write one on dealing with the death of a loved one, for all those hurting out there.xoxo

    Always L.S

  26. Tobi

    June 25, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Oluwatoyosi , Dad is proud of you , and he is resting well in the arms of the Almighty . I know how u feel but and also happy you have good memories of him that keeps you going . I lost my brother last year to a sudden death and till today I can’t still make sense out of it . But his smile and his precious daughter keeps me going . Thanks for the encouragement and prayers towards all sickel cell Warriors . It’s always needed. Proud of you ore mi.

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