Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three Generations of Gamor

I started this blog to showcase my growth & development as a photographer, then to showcase my work as a multimedia journalist. Despite my initial inclination to remain very private about all other issues, 2012 taught me one important lesson: that I am the testimony and it is in sharing the challenges, immense struggles, interspersed with the triumphs & "pretty" stories that I will be able to truly share how good God's been to me. By doing so, I hope inspire someone else in turn. It isn't easy every day; I don't always make it out smiling everyday; I won't get to post on here every day, but when I do, it will always be worth your while, promise.

 Right from the airport, my father's significant other let me know that we were going to drop off my stuff at the house and quickly rush to Korle-Bu Hospital. My father had been sent there this morning for dialysis treatment and needed to be picked up shortly after. Mentally I had tried preparing myself, but nothing really prepares you to see a loved one who's been in and out of a coma, with failed kidneys, diabetes, asthma and now, the inability to take care of themselves independently. I'd imagined it, I had thought of it, but to me, my father was still the same sprightly person I saw almost a decade ago. I'm a workaholic with nocturnal tendencies, I multitask, a lot. All these traits, I get from my dad. To think that my father couldn't be his usual self baffled me.

I was grateful that as I walked into the hospital ward, an overwhelming peace washed over me; I couldn't help but smile the entire time. Internally though, I was shocked when I saw my dad's shriveled frame. I'm a decent 170 pounds, 6 foot 2 inches. My father is over 6ft tall and now, weighs 50-60 pounds less than I do…. It felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, I asked a friend to record the first encounter on video so that in private I could allow myself to breakdown and cry. A part of me initially wanted to, but an overwhelming strength and sense of comfort enveloped me. All I could do was to offer smiles and reassurances for my father whose sunken cheeks, enlarged left arm and frail frame still hinted at the swag I once knew him for: the confident gait, the infectious smile, the roaring voice, the genuine sense of concern for others. Now he needed that from me. I didn't, couldn't disappoint.
His reactions were first of disbelief, then recognition, he was overwhelmed and began to cry. I hate to admit it, but he also felt embarrassed. While I had grown almost 2 feet taller and stronger since we last met, he'd shrunk significantly. Knowing him, I fully understood. I empathized as I wouldn't want to reunite with my last child (yes I have two older siblings, out there…somewhere), to be this way. But I was overflowing with joy and love for this man. I caught myself lifting up my chin, consciously conferring dignity to be in his presence, transferring my energy to him and reassuring him that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to be embarrassed about. By God's grace he'd cheated death: stuck in an ambulance in a coma en route from 37 military hospital to Korle-Bu for 11 hours... oh Ghana. He was my hero, he still is. And I am proud of him.

I was taught the procedure of carrying him out of his bed and into his wheel chair, learned that his vast vocabulary (my father is multilingual and spoke: French, German, English, Haussa, Ga, Akan, Ewe with relative ease) had now been reduced to one word "No" for when he was in pain. All this left me in disbelief. At home, 5 hours later, I was humbled and walked into his master bedroom at his house - now my bedroom - as he'd been relocated to the guest room on the ground floor, in tears. To all  who contributed to my IndieGoGo campaign,  and in turn my trip back to Accra, and gave me enormous emotional and prayer support: I will be sending the private video recording of us reuniting. The gratitude in father's eyes expresses how thankful we both are, more than any of my words ever could.
As I rolled my suitcases into the master bedroom, I noticed a new picture I had never seen before. A picture of my grandfather, my father's father (of whom my father had never spoken of) in a suit and bow-tie, very dapper. On another side of the wall was a painting of my father, in a suit and tie, in his prime (a painting by Sami Adohudep circa 1996). Swiping the tears from my eyes to smile at our collective resemblance and yet distinctive smiles, I felt compelled to make a collage and include myself as a third generation Gamor:
I stand, on the shoulder of giants.
 Mosquito Claps: As a kid I used to try to kill mosquitoes by capturing them between my palms with a loud clap. This practice is not uncommon in tropical regions and especially in Ghana. The hashtag #mosquitoclaps however indicates a new post about my thoughts, experiences and observations in Accra on this blog.


  1. I love this post Emma. Sorry about you dad though. I planned writing a post with similar heading -- I will however consider four generations. Indeed, family is irreplaceable.

  2. wow thanks for sharing. Hope your Ghana trip becomes fruitful

  3. Thanks at Kafui and Sweet Mama Africa.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Emmanuel. Your strength of spirit is astounding and I'm sure your being with your dad helps him daily. At the end of the day, we are but human, but it's how we influence each other - as father does son and vice-versa - that we live beyond our frailties. Keep strong and doing the amazing work you're doing. Allah has your back.

  5. My deepest condolences, Emma! One day, you will look back and recount this story with a different emotion, save this post and remember I told you first!

  6. I salute you for your bravery in sharing with others. Not all of us have been so courageous. My condolences and indeed you are a giant. God bless you

  7. Thanks for the kind words Jemila.
    Edward you're right, this post elicits new emotions every time I read it.
    Akua Akyaa, thank you. Blessings to you too.

  8. Sorry to read about your dad passing. Be strong.

  9. In the late crowd but I made it anyways. It's okay to be weak, it shows how important he is to you. It's great to be strong, as you have a legacy to carry on. Time does heal, but it also serves as your reminder, that bittersweet sensation, during that time of the year. Gone, not forgotten, remembered, Revered.

    Be weak. Be strong. Through you his memory lives on.

    -Love you bro

  10. To be honest, I've not had the courage to reread this post till now. Thank you so much Dela and Jeffrey for your comments. Your words of support mean a lot to me.

  11. Once in a while I keep coming back to this post. Grateful for life everyday and the warm and kind words from friends, family & readers of this blog alike. #GamorLegacy