Ajayi Tolulope
5 min readMay 1, 2024


Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.” — Katherine May.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

My father had that familiar blank stare, the same one he always had when deep in thought. He wasn’t worried; his face showed no signs of concern. I knew where his mind was — millions of miles away, in his favourite places with my mother. Whenever I saw him like this, I let him be, as this was the only part of the world he truly enjoyed.

Just like wild violets, my mother always bloomed; she was the happiest person in the world, with a smile that was the prettiest thing in the universe. She was the star that shone brightly without ever fading, a beautiful person aware of her beauty. With my mother, father, and me, our little family was complete; we lacked nothing, and everything was perfect. That was until my mother got sick.

It started with the flu, then shivers, then cold sores; a few weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Upon receiving the news, my father tried to pretend, showing no emotions. That night, I found him crying in the bathroom; I went to hug him, but I saw the embarrassment on his face. He had committed the gravest offense a parent could commit — crying in front of their child. Since then, my father never cried, or maybe I never caught him.

Our little family continued, my mother ever optimistic, my father the pragmatist, running around caring for his wife, and me, the child, confused. Winter came, and it was brutal. It wasn’t until the freezing hands of death snatched my mother away that I realized I had enjoyed the summer warmth all my life. But nature was cruel — all flowers must wither, and stars die. My mother died a year after her diagnosis. I didn’t lose a parent that day; I lost two. My father’s heart went cold, his mouth turned sour, and every word he spoke sounded bitter. I couldn’t understand his grief.

When she was alive, I promised her I would never leave my father’s side, that I would always hold onto him steadfastly. I knew her absence would affect him terribly, and I was right. My father didn’t take her death easily; he was in a hole, a deep, dark hole. The day we buried my mother, it rained heavily; even the heavens wept. The sun wouldn’t come out for the next three days, and when it eventually shone, it crouched behind the clouds.

My father and I gradually began gathering the pieces of our lives, trying to return to a normalcy that carefully evaded us. We pretended to be happy, and with time, the pretence became real; the void was still there, but we learned to live with the gap. We lived like this for the next few decades. I felt guilty for falling in love with my partner; I didn’t understand that I could share my heart with anyone except my parents. But with time, my heart warmed up to him.

The hardest part about loving him was that I would eventually have to move out of my father’s house, leaving him all alone. I couldn’t bring myself to do such a cruel thing, not after the promise I made to my mother. A few years ago, my father was sick, terribly sick; I was always with him, sleeping in his hospital room. Anytime I tried to leave, even for a few seconds, I would see him grab me, asking me not to leave him alone. So how could I leave him now to follow another man? I couldn’t do it.

At first, my partner wouldn’t understand why I wasn’t willing to get married and move in with him. I didn’t know how to explain leaving my father behind. I was scared, scared of losing him for the sake of my father. But my partner understood when I told him, and he accepted my fears immediately, suggesting we move in with my father instead. I was delighted by his suggestion — since I wasn’t losing both. He kept his word, moved into my father’s house, and we became a family.

My father is an old man now, and he looks frail. He spends most of his afternoons split between his garden and his grandkids, telling them stories about his younger days when his mind is intact. Their favourite stories are about his adventures with my mother — their grandmother. These stories leave him short of breath, exhausting his energy, but he doesn’t stop until he’s done. I always feel delighted because I’ve heard those stories a million times before when I was a kid. Even though my father’s memory fades daily, I’m happy my kids can hear the same stories and know my mother through them. I’m content with my life.

This week wasn’t great for my father; his health was deteriorating. He ran a fever throughout the night and vomited repeatedly at dawn. This afternoon, he sat in the garden, staring wildly into space, his hands clasping a picture of my mother. By evening, the wind blew lightly, and I went to bring him inside; some insects were hovering over him. I found my mother’s picture on the floor, bent to pick it up, and touched my father’s hand — it felt frozen. Alas, as the last winds of autumn blew, winter came.

As I held my father’s hand, I realized that life had come full circle. I had promised my mother I would never leave my father’s side, and now I was fulfilling that promise. My partner, my children, and I surrounded him, giving him the love and care he needed. Though my father’s body was frail, his mind still wandered to his favourite places, where my mother was still alive, and their love still bloomed like wild violets.

In his final moments, my father’s eyes sparkled, and a faint smile crossed his face. I knew he was with my mother again, in their favourite places, free from pain and sorrow. As the winter wind blew, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. My father was finally at peace, and I had kept my promise to my mother.

P.S: This story is entirely fictitious, and does not represent anyone dead or alive, any semblance is strictly coincidental. The author won’t be held responsible for any interpretations.