My father died when I was 11 so I only remember a few things that he said to me. I remember distinctly the day I came home and announced that I was called Potato Head Koech at school. No, it was not an insult from my friends.
You see, Mr and Mrs Potato Head and the Potato Head Kids were popular cartoon figures – much like Sponge Bob and Sofia The First today.
It was hip to be a member of the Potato Head family and so we christened each other with the surname. There was Potato Head Masemo, Potato Head Gitata, Potato Head Osawo and so on.
But my dad would have none of that. He didn't want his name (or daughter) to be associated with such a silly name. So he told me, "Go and tell your friends to stop calling you that and if they don't, come back and tell me." I didn't dare tell him it was just a game and I liked the game...well, a little.
Still, I learned about family pride and that you shouldn't let anyone mess with your identity (even if they were only nine years old.)
The other thing I remember is how he would sing to us every bedtime. "Early to bed and early to rise, makes someone healthy and wealthy and wise.
" I was pretty young then, but it stuck with me. I didn't quite know what wealthy and wise meant but I knew they were good things so I repeated the song to everyone who dared delay me from bedtime, precisely at 8pm.
But it's not the things I learned from my father's words that have made the biggest impact on my life. It is the things I learned from his actions.
From things he did before I was born and things he did in countries I have never been to. I got to learn of them somehow before and after his death. Now that I'm a mother, I'm conscious of how every move I make could impact my daughters' lives even after I am gone.
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