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From life to eternal life

The last weeks I have been MIA because my father passed away. His funeral was held in Australia so I traveled back and forth from Europe to Australia within a week. I wish I had super powers to do that at the speed of light but instead sat in a cramped space for more than 30 hours. I treated myself to a foot and shoulder massage at the stopover in Bangkok airport by a nice man who kept telling me to relax. I used all my super powers not to fall apart.

Even though my father had been ill for a while and since he was my father and therefore 31 years older than me, his death was to be expected. Strangely enough even though I knew that, I still received the news as a shock. It was as if my brain had been able to understand his death yet not taking the information seriously. Unfortunately there is no second degree for death. You are either dead or your’e not. No joke. No punch line.  No I’ll do it again. No better next time. And this definitive state is the hardest to bear.

My father was definitely not a saint but he had a presence that made him difficult to ignore.  He had grown up poor in Ethiopia during the Italian occupation, earned scholarships to study in France during the Algerian war. As an adult, he chose the Baha’i religion and thus ensured that wherever he would be he would always be the odd one out. Yet, he had mastered the capacity of forcing respect even from those who were not giving it readily. He showed such determination to put his decisions in practice that few would doubt him. He also had a knack to find humor in daily events and his smile or loud laugh could warm a room.

At the funeral my niece eloquently read the eulogy and got many to laugh. The Baha’i prayer for the departed was read by my sister by the grave site and as we were repeating the verses as prescribed I could feel as if each lifted a stone of grief from my soul and liberated him at the same time.  When it ended I felt he was now free to move on to new adventures in the other worlds of God and we, the living, were free to continue our lives here of which unfortunately grieving is a part.

My father had told my sister and I many times since we were old enough to remember that he would die in his sleep at the age of 75. He passed away quietly in his bed at home during the night of the 5th of June 2012. He would have turned 76 in July.


7 responses »

  1. Your father sounds like a wonderful dad! So sorry for your loss. Your post pays a beautiful tribute.

  2. it’s very well said, little sis! merci…

  3. what more can I say Rebecca ? I have such good memories during our trip to Ethiopia and Djibouti. Benjamin was just born and he was soooo proud of him! Showed everyone the pictures he had with him. He was, as you write here, a very special person.
    He will be missed by you all.


  4. I’m sorry for your loss, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing these reflections.

  5. Mawushi Eddie Nutakor

    My dear Rebecca. Thanks for your tribute here… my father passed away last september and I know how you feel… Rebbi was also my father, if you don’t mind sharing him a little. I had a special love for him. He taught me how to be African in France without feeling inferioir to anybody. He taught me a spirit of independence and self confidence which will stay with me. (I remember how proud and happy I was to partner with him to run those early institute courses b4 ruhi actually started), I remember how he would always explain his thoughts by saying “autrement dit!”

    I think Rebbi was definitely a saint, as far as I define the word: any parent who can raise up their children to be like you (and your sister whom I dont know well though)”. Any parent who can offer a better life to their children than his or her own parent did is a saint. Rebbi and your dear Mum, what ever their shortcomings, are saints to you and I because they sacrificed so much to make us what we become. In our turn, we shall be saints if we can educate our children to be lovers of God and Humanity, doers of good whose only aspiration is to “contribute to the welbeing” of society.

    Now my eyes cloud with tears and I can hardly see the key board and what I am typing. May God keep us all and bless your beautiful hearts and souls; May God bless Rebbi and shine a light on his path. I hope he meets my dad again and can teach him the Faith (again) for me!

  6. Your father was my ethiopian father.He is forever in my heart and my mind.Never forget him!


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