The Night My Father Died



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It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

– Anne Sexton


I feel so sorry about Dad. I haven’t seen him for almost my whole life, but I love him so much.
My mom and granny have been terribly sad since they heard the news. They remember him as the most wonderful person. I feel so sorry that I had no opportunity to grow up with him, and I’m so upset that I can’t come to Nigeria to see him off.

– Tina Charles Ogunleye


I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.

– Sigmund Freud


When we were kids, our Dad spoilt us. He was always able to provide us with some of our wants and all of our needs. In the early years he used to work in Warri and only spent weekends in Lagos, so we always looked forward to Fridays with ripe anticipation. One of my oldest memories is most probably the story behind my sweet tooth. Back then every time Daddy came to Lagos, he came with gifts of Scottish shortbread. It is still my favourite biscuit.

We have always been a family of film fanatics and book readers. On most weekends Daddy would drive us down to one of the shopping plazas to pick up a couple of films from the video club. Being a gang of stubborn kids, Daddy would save himself the time wasted and stress caused by arguments over which films we could take, and he would let each of us take whichever films suited our personal taste. This was also a way to keep Simisola from being bullied. Last borns always have it tough. We often ended up taking home close to 10 films.

Whenever I asked my Dad for cash to buy a new book or comic, he would give me enough to buy 2 or 3. Those roads to a million worlds and windows to a billion lives were revealed to me at a very young age, and I still sneak away as often as possible from reality hiding away in a book.


Proverbs 13:1

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

13 – A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,

   but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.


Charlie wasn’t very religious when we were kids. Compared to Mummy, he was more of a “when will the pastor stop talking” kind of church-goer. But he was a good man with a good heart. And he did lay the foundations for strong, good characters in his children. Our Dad drummed the ills of smoking and taking drugs into our heads as soon as it was obvious we knew Marlborough wasn’t the name of superhero. It’s probably thanks to him that I have always seen cigarettes as a dirty, disgusting and “lower class” habit. Charlie never smoked and he rarely drank, although those bottles of cognacs, wines and whisky he brought back from his trips abroad are the reason for my good taste. Don’t tell my Mum, but I do my love my Merlot. A glass a day keeps the doctor away.

I remember a beach party I attended in my teen years in Lagos where I had a little too much palm-wine to drink. When Daddy came to pick me up, he helped me into the car…and all the way to my bed. How many Dads do that these days?

My Dad taught me to always make sure I am my own best friend. He said “people come and people go…it’s dangerous to place your trust in anyone because people usually only think of themselves; he advised me to be careful who I call friend. As a teenager, I noticed he had stopped taking his own advice to heart – a discovery which saddened me. These last few years I’ve been asking myself if I shouldn’t have done a lot more in order to to set my parents back on “the right path”.

Daddy always told me I could achieve any and all of my dreams, as long as I was ready to work hard to reach my goals. He always emphasized the importance of education. Knowing he went all the way to Russia to study Chemical Engineering was always an inspiration for me. As a child, I used to think everyone in Nigeria had Charlie to thank for having petrol in their cars and gas or kerosene in their kitchens.

Tina and I are deeply saddened that we can’t be there with you right now, our family and friends, to share all these memories of Daddy, Charles Oladele Ogunleye. We regret not having spent more time with him. We regret the distance that appeared between us as the years went by. We regret that someone who meant a lot to so many people had to slip away in such a manner.

The good memories, the good stories are what we’ll fill that empty place in our hearts with. Charlie, missing you already…


1 Kings 2:1-4

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

David’s charge to Solomon

1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.

2 ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: “If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.”

– Olatokunbo Oluwatosin Omo-Ogunleye


13 thoughts on “The Night My Father Died”

  1. I have very fond memories of Uncle Dele. I partially grew up with you guys in the same household. I remember the video game and the movie rental days. Even as a young kid then, I could see that his kids were his priority and he truly loved you guys. May he rest in peace. May God comfort you all.


  2. Tosin,
    On behalf of my family and I,I wish to condole you on the death of your father.He was such a nice and easy going man.May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
    -Akinloye Oyebanji


  3. i didnt know him too well, but the few times i met him during visiting days while we were in junior school, he was cool, nice and generous, he gave us all money as being friends of his son. I did admire him. May His soul find rest in perfect peace. So sorry Bro.


  4. So sorry about this, Dear.. I had a similar story with my Grandpa, last year, not comparable, I guess but still very painful.
    I felt like I never told him I loved him enough and I don’t even know if he realized how much I did, makes me so sad.
    Learnt a lesson..
    spieszmy sie kochac ludzi….


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