When exemplary men pass, it is often said, ‘They left vast vacuums or huge shoes to be filled’.
This is spot on where Edward Adebisi Lawrence is concerned, it has not sunk in and it very well may never do so as I continue to reminisce about his place in my life. I can only pray that I can have half the effect he had on me with my son.
In the last few weeks, I have read and re-read several tributes written by those whose lives he touched or those he mentored from broadcasting to print media. A lot was said about his mastery of words and excellence in administration, his vast knowledge of virtually anything you wanted to talk about without unnecessary embellishments and always being able to meet you at your level of understanding.
I did not spend as much time as I would have loved to spend with my father, and if there is anything I regret in retrospect it is this one. My father was a fantastic and extraordinary human being who although to many achieved great heights in his career, his body of work speaks for itself but I know now that he only showcased a fraction of what he was capable of which may be hard to believe for most.
He was a loving, bubbly mound of knowledge and wisdom who smiled and laughed with his whole face, the dimples on his cheeks growing ever deeper in those moments. He shone so bright and lighted up every gathering he graced with his presence. He was strong in his convictions and fiercely proud of his stances.
Growing up in our culture, men did not really profess affection but we knew we were loved by their actions. My father was an exception as I can recall many times he told me he loved me, and his actions sometimes with tough love showed it as well. I used to tell stories of when I went to visit him when I was younger, we would have deep conversations sometimes rather unpleasant but sincere, but this became so much better as I got older and began to communicate on the same wave length; we would talk about music ranging from Yusuf Olatunji to Bob Dylan, from Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to Johann Sebastian Bach.
We also discussed world history, current affairs and everything in between, these discussions were done over a meal that he prepared himself, usually his special smoked fish pepper soup, rice that he would garnish with symmetrically sliced tomatoes and onions, while the rice steamed.
Bizlaw was not perfect, he was flawed just like any of us, but I can proudly say today that he was an exceptionally special human being who had to live his life on his own terms in many ways unbeknownst to those who were lucky enough to have spent some time with him in some capacity or another. For me he was that caterpillar who morphed into a butterfly but was not allowed to fully spread out its wings to the full extent of its splendor even with the lofty achievements and homages paid to him.
He will always be embedded on my mind and I will never forget his reaction when he did not attend a particular occasion that he was supposed to attend on my behalf, I was angry with him and he said “Junior, it is just a ceremony laden with sentiments, I’m sure you really know how I feel about you and Yinka”.
In the past year I have come to lean on this as to what is important or necessary as opposed to what is mundane and contrived. As someone who means the world to me puts it “Be intentional with the things that are important” #movingforwardwithYinka
So, today being the 1st year memorial anniversary, I am imparting to Mofiyinfoluwa (my son)… “Grandpa’s body and bones have most likely turned into dust or in the process of doing so, but he still lives in the indelible memories of him I have safe-guarded, that I can recall at any time” – memories like my father driving me in in his yellow Mazda with the wood grain steering wheel and dashboard, then taking his hands off the steering wheel saying “Look, Junior! no hands! and then seeing the scared expression on my face and assuring me that I was safe and not to worry, I was all of seven years old at that time.
I love and miss you man.
Kevin Ayofolarin Lawrence.