I was on my way to see my father and I wasn’t sure why he had summoned me since we spoke at length about the family business yesterday evening. The trip to his house was over three hours, and I had told my PA to cancel and reschedule all meetings for the day. I hoped he was alright. I wasn’t surprised to meet his nurse, Nneoma waiting at the door.
“Mr Rangley has been expecting you.” She said, ushering me towards my father’s library.
“Thank you, Nneoma,” I responded.
My dad had been involved in a ghastly automobile crash that almost took his life and cost my mother hers. He was lucky to have survived even though his legs were still numb from the mishap. As a result, I assumed the position as the acting CEO to Rangley Corp. one that wasn’t an easy feat, thoroughly unprepared and so far, successfully.
“How is he?” I inquired, hoping he is well.
“He is doing very well.”
“Where is he?” I asked
“He is in his study.” She responded.
“How is he? He is fine, isn’t he?” I asked again as I trailed behind her, halting when she did in front of my father’s study.
“Of course.” She smiled in response. She opened the door and said to my father, “Your son is here to see you.”
“Which of them, is it Christian or David?” I heard him ask.
“David.” She affirmed. Turning to me she said, “You may go in now.”
“How are you?” I asked him, concern written all over my face as soon as Nneoma shut the door behind her. “Getting stronger every day,” he retorted.
“Is she treating you good?” I asked as Nneoma was the housekeeper he finally chose after turning down over twenty other applicants and the only one who had lasted for a month.
“She tries.” he mumbled staring at my mom’s portrait on the wall, no one can replace your mother and I miss her.” I could hear the sadness in his voice.
I said nothing. I hoped he would get through somehow. My mother’s death was a great blow to us.
“You must be expecting Christian,” I said matter-of-factly for want of a change in conversation.
“Yes, I am. He is coming around with Joy and the kids to see me. Enough talk about me. I can see you have been working hard. Do you have time to relax at all?”
“I guess I do.”
“I am aware you ought to close a business deal in Abuja this evening.” I waited for him to continue, “do you have to go for the meeting yourself?”
“I do. If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”
He chuckled. “You know you don’t have to. That is why you have your staff there. They aren’t for decoration, are they? You should delegate the responsibility to someone you trust.”
“I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”
“Sounds like you don’t trust your staff enough to do their job. Where is the joy in working when you don’t have time to enjoy the works of your hands or relax at all.”
“I will take your thoughts into advisement.”
“You should. Have faith in them. A little bird told me Ashimolowo Peters is good at closing deals.”
“It sounds like you don’t want to talk much. I know since you became CEO, your lifestyle took a turn how are things at home?”
I figured he was in a chit-chat mood today. I sighed. “Everyone is good. Dad is there something you need to tell me because-” He nodded. “It is about your family.”
“When last did you spend quality time with your family?” I didn’t respond.
“I need you to slow down.” He removed his glasses to rub his eyes and wore it back.
“I know you are a hard worker and I can see how much of your time, how much of yourself you have invested in Rangley Corp. and I appreciate that. We all do.”
He stared long and hard at me. “How is Rhoda?”
I sighed. I didn’t know where to start. “She is… Rhoda is fine. We are fine.” I smiled painfully.
From the look he gave me, he knew I was lying. I watched him place his glasses on the table as he rolled his wheelchair towards me.
“When I took over the reins of the company as you have, your mother understood the weighty responsibility of carrying the family business, but nothing prepared us for the strain it would cause our marriage. I got immersed with work and spent lesser time at home. I brought work home instead of dropping it at the door. Of course, she gave me space because she knew I needed to give in my best…” He paused, looked at a portrait of my mom on the wall then back at me.
“My turning point was when I found out she was pregnant with you and I didn’t even notice. Your grandmother called my attention to it and compelled me to put my house in order. She made me understand that no amount of material things I get for your mother can ever replace my presence.” I knew he wasn’t finished. “I know you tell your PA to get Rhoda anything she requests for if she can’t reach you directly. I know you send her gifts to make up for times you both plan to bond, and I want you to know that just as much as absence makes the heart grow fonder, out of sight means out of mind.”
I shifted in my seat uneasily, wondering how my dad was so spot-on I asked myself if Rhoda had been talking to him.
“In case you are thinking she approached me, Rhoda did not. It is quite obvious at least to me what is happening between you. Even a blind man can tell. What I need you to do is put as much effort in your home as you do at work, maybe even more. Your family is primary while all other things are secondary.”
I felt weak with guilt. Though I wasn’t expecting this counsel, he was right. Ever since I assumed the position, Rangley Corp had become my love. I had to earn the respects and trusts from the board as well as the staff. I also had to deal with the loss of my mother and the fact that I almost lost my dad. I realise now I owed Rhoda an apology. She deserved better than what she was getting from me. I realized I had been selfish, inconsiderate and insensitive to her. I couldn’t believe how short-sighted I had become and I knew I had to change that. As if reading my thoughts, I heard my dad say, “ the memories we make with our family is everything and Rhoda is your home, your family.” I nodded. I knew what to do.