Our Fallen Iroko Tree…

Chief’s Mona Lisa

I am writing through my tears.

I am writing again through courage

I am writing through my deepest grief … I have lost my father of 83yrs to the ages💔.

God called him home on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows ( the day the Catholic Church celebrates Jesus mother Mary receiving the body of her son from the cross)

I have lost the one whose existence added sauce to my life . Now the world seemed more bland without him.

Dad absolutely giddy at receiving this gift of a T-shirt on his 80th birthday ♥️

DH*and I landed in New Orleans airport on that day that he was called home to God. Even the air seemed to stale and lack spice. It was like being given food without any salt.

Typically, our landing at Louis Armstrong Airport is filled with the anticipation for a wonderful family reunion , with my Dad at the center of all the excitements.

My Dad knew how to take his job as a great fun father and grandfather seriously.

Dallas Texas

We called him “Chief” and he was regal in so many ways even though he was also the most humble human I ever met…

Our family trips to New Orleans were filled with Chief planning this or that, all in an effort to ensure that WE all had the very best times! They were organized bus tours , just because- with his clinic staff as our make shift bus driver lol, nighttime boat cruise on the Mississippi River with all his grandchildren, catered local Cajun cuisine at thanksgiving, tourist tours to visit the alligators in the swamps of New Orleans, big fun parties thrown in their home just to welcome their first grandchild, or parties just in celebration of his family coming home.

Every visit to New Orleans was memorable and filled with JOY! .

New Orleans with grandchildren
Dallas with grandchildren
Washington DC with family
Touring Washington DC with grandchildren
Breakfast in Eziachi Nigeria with grandkids
50th wedding anniversary/80th birthday party celebration in New Orleans
South Africa visit with grandchildren
Capetown South Africa with grandchildren
Twins’ First holy communion St. Louis

Memorial Day vacation with family, Florida may 2022
Visiting him at Downman Urgent Care Clinic- a place he absolutely loved and gave his life’s work as a physician
Owerri with grandkids
With his beloved sons in-law

My Dad was truly the bagpiper , always finding tunes to bring us Joy and we , his children and grandchildren enjoyed dancing to the tunes of the pure joy he brought us.

My Dad seemed to have life’s manual in hand- and he lived to the fullest! My mother now reminisces on how it was not unusual that they are the last ones on any dance floor. I always loved how easy going my father was, he fit nicely into ANY room, and always had the right words and mannerisms at ANY time. If there was a cramped car during our full family gatherings, he would volunteer to be the adult sitting in the back of the minivan with the kids, just so everyone can fit for the ride to church or wherever.

Chief was adventurous and carpe diem*ed) the heck outta life .

Dad and I , New Orleans
Dancing completions you daughter Ginika

At 19 yrs old, he left the comfort and familiarity of his homeland in Nigeria, to land on the American shores after he had been awarded a scholarship geared to attract brilliant African minds to the USA in the 1960s.

He embraced his new land and thrived, becoming a surgeon, marrying his bride from his homeland, becoming a father and grandfather , a cultured man, a philanthropist, an author , a man of God and friend to so many.

Dallas 2021

Now, I find myself waking up each morning to the reality that he is no longer with us in the physical form. The pain is so real in numerous moments of the day, when I reach for my phone to make a call to tell him of this experience or the next, only to be reminded of the rude reality that he is gone.

Mexico with grandchildren

Even if he lived another 100 yrs it will not feel like enough, because he embodied so much Love. However, I also know that he was only a gift from God and has returned to the giver of life. Indeed we are all on borrowed time.

A reminder to make the most of our lives on earth.

The condolences keeps pouring in and I often find myself consoling tears on the other phone line.

So many stories of people whose lives he touched, as a physician, an Uncle, a mentor, a friend etc etc.

Celebrating a surprise birthday gathering for him at his clinic
Mardi Gras New Orleans

Now there are the moments that I now choose to call “God-Win” moments where I am convinced of his reunion with the communion of saints and smiling down on me. I am so grateful that I have so many wonderful “ make you smile” memories of my father. Those are my gifts to hold on to now and I hope to keep these always.

I see him in the legacy of his family , his children and grandchildren. He hasn’t left us completely, because his spirit and legacy are alive in us.

The other day, I had a God win moment as I dropped off one of my twins to football practice ( DH dropped the other twin as we always divide and conquer with this parenting gig)…

Anyways as I watched one of our twin walk away from the car in his football gear looking so grown up , hair flowing and handsome, this thought came to my mind and literally spoke out loud to myself – “Well Dad , there goes YOUR legacy “and that was comforting.

Thanksgiving New Orleans

The reality is that OUR big Iroko tree who was our healthy , never sick , never demanding has indeed fallen, and all the cover and protection is lifted and we , his mourners are feeling the lack of shade and comfort that this giant of a man provided us all.

We must now try and readjust to our new reality without his strong protection , along with the wonderful qualities that his life added to give our life more sauce, making life so much more sweeter.

Thankfully I am consoled with the belief and reminder that he is now in the communion of saints and will keep his love and care on us now from heaven – for all eternity.

Even in death he keeps blessing us 🙏🏾♥️

Capetown South Africa

Joining the club of those who have lost a parent is such a hard club to be belong to now. Especially when you had an amazing father like I have had all my life . I am now choosing to mourn him while remembering to honor his legacy in those that I have left .

Pastor TD Jakes talks about “ strengthening what remains”even in losses. I am choosing to do just that one day at a time . My tears will flow and at times stain my face, but I will choose to love all that remains , in the example that my father has given me throughout his life .

In my Igbo custom, I was the reincarnation of my father’s mother and so he called me his “ Mama Janet”. A term that has always been endearing and also allowed me space to share so much humor with him, as I would in our later years teasingly call him “ Odi ishi okpukpu” like his sisters nicknamed him.

Dog lover all his life
Florida with grandchildren
Rollercoaster with grandson at almost 80yrs!
Hanging out with Chief St Louis

I am so grateful that we really shared So much laughter and fun together. Chief inspired so many and in his presence, he had a way of making you feel seen, like YOU mattered.

Thank you Dad for always SEEING me I will forever be grateful for your love ❤️

Poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran says, “To live in the hearts of others is not to die”.

Rest in God Chief Omenka, my dearest father🙏🏾♥️

New Orleans La
Lagos , Nigeria
APA conference with his best friend/brother in Law, Atlanta Georgia.
Our wedding 2005
My father daughter dance at our wedding
Seregenti, Tanzania
With his son, Nigeria.
Buffalo, New York
Tree house, St Louis
St Louis MO
Enjoying simple things in life like this ice cream cone on the beaches of Anna Maria island
Adieu Chief Omenka🙏🏾♥️

(*DH =Darling husband)

(*carpe diem is Latin for seize the day )

33 thoughts on “Our Fallen Iroko Tree…”

  1. Kelechi. This is quite the tribute, your best ever. Tears are streaming down my face as I read it. Your father was the very best, just as I felt about my father. They were both over generous fun loving people who cared about their family. It was not a surprise when I discovered that they celebrated the same birthdate -April 19. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. May his soul rest in perfect peace. We are missing him too dear. He was such an extraordinary man, he was always at every ORAUSA medical mission. He makes you feel like you are the same age with him. He was a great giant in ORAUSA and we will miss him. Our condolences to him immediate family.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chief was one of a kind, so full of life and his hugs were out of this world. I know your heart is broken. We love you and we are here for you if you need anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MY HEART ACHES ! 😭😭I am so sorry to hear this heart breaking news! My prayers are with you and your family! I love you guys and all the beautiful pictures! Precious memories. ❤️🙏🏽❤️🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Precious Kele you loved and is loved. May the loving and sweet memories of your dear father always remain ever green in your heart where Omenka will live forever. Gisike Ndooo. Much love Aty Imie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kelechi you have honored your father so beautifully with your lovely words. The joy of so many memories will bring you comfort. He will not be far from you. God bless you and keep you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing him with us. This is so beautiful and honestly he lived and continues to live. May we all live and age as graceful as he did. I know this is tough but you were built for this and though he is physically gone, he continues to live on through you and all his children and grandchildren. Iroko trees are timeless and will always remain rooted where planted. Your dad is firmly rooted in you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There will truly never be another. My tears keeps flowing fresh lily everyday. I keep looking for the exit button out of this nightmare. My protector, my friend, my father, my travel buddy, my baby sitter, my secret keeper, my first true love, my heart, my kind, intelligent, incredibly hardworking provider of a father. You were truly everything to me. Like I have no words. I feel robbed. I feel robbed of the pleasure of taking care of you. I thought I would hold you up, fix your food, fed you, bath you, take care of you in your old age. You didn’t age, you just slipped through my fingers. I am lost. I keep hoping this was some mistake and you will return, but alas this life is just too short and unpredictable. Keep resting and dancing with the sis T’s my Daddy. You will always be loved ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Dr Godwin Ogbuokiri ( Omenka) my fellow brother Knight was a rare gem whose humility and kindness attract anybody that comes across him. I was privy to know him and work with him through ORAUSA Medical Medical Mission. I have been a friend to the family . Sir/Dr G Ogbuokiri will be dearly missed and May his gentle soul Rest In Peace.
        Basil Ibenyenwa

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dr Godwin Ogbuokiri ( Omenka) my fellow brother Knight was a rare gem whose humility and kindness attract anybody that comes across him. I was privy to know him and work with him through ORAUSA Medical Medical Mission. I have been a friend to the family . Sir/Dr G Ogbuokiri will be dearly missed and May his gentle soul Rest In Peace.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. What a wonderful gift top have someone in your life who loved you like he did. I can understand why his passing has left a big hole. Thank you for sharing in this time of loss. Sending you lots of positive energy and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Absolutely beautiful Kele. So moving. Tears rolling in as I read He will be so proud. He lived a life full of happiness and fulfillment .He’s looking down smiling upon you from a better place. Stay strong my darling. May his soul rest in perfect peace Amen🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  10. His life was simple, touching and penetrative. He set a compelling example of what a family life should be and remained an energizing inspiration for those who had contact with him. Although he is no more with us, his endearing legacies lives on. His departure is a reminder to us all that we are a passing history and should make hay to lead a touching life while the sun shines. Adieu Chief.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So sorry for you and our loss. Omenka (his title name) meant so many things to do many of us not only in New Orleans here but in ORAUSA world wide but more especially my family. He was greatly loved and would be sorely missed by my whole family. But we take solace that he is an angel protecting you his immediate family and us too as he did when he was here with us. I pray that God will give your family the fortitude to bear this unfathomable loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Words cannot express how surprised I am to hear about the loss of Dr. Ogbuokiri. He was a man of integrity and respect. He was a very resilient lion who stopped at nothing for excellence. I remember coming to his office with my mom as a young girl in New Orleans and he always took time to give me good advice. He was the Nigerian uncle who was an extension of my parents whenever I saw him around the city. He cared so much about his family. As a matter of fact, the last time I saw him was some years ago at the airport as he was going to visit his grandkids. God bless you, Uncle. Rest in perfect peace, and may God give your family the grace to endure your loss 🙏💕 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So sorry for your loss Kels. It’s a hard place to be in. Lost my dad two years ago at 89 doesn’t feel any better. Wish he was still here. Just be consoled that his in the bosom of the lord and left a great legacy. I pray the good lord consoles you and yours. Sending you hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The news of the passing of Dr. Ogbuokiri, Omenkachinyere has left many of us speechless and in disbelief. A father figure to many of us, a kind and generous human being, a philanthropist, a free healthcare giver to many destitute individuals in Nigeria, a pioneer leader of ORAUSA Free Medical Missions and ORAUSA esteemed Patron. He surely will be missed by many. Our prayers are for the beautiful family be left behind. May his soul rest in perfect peace with the Lord! Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kelechi…what a beautiful tribute to your dad.
    He certainly lived his life on earth to the fullest. The memories you shared with him will remain in your heart. It’s a blessing that you have so many recent pictures of him. May God strengthen your mom and provide comfort to the entire family.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Kelechi, I know firsthand what it is to lose a beloved one. The pain never goes away; however, its intensity tends to lessen with time. Please do not hold your grief; instead, let it all out, so it doesn’t consume or overwhelm you. Sorry again for your loss. God knows best, and we cannot question him. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Adieu, Papa.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Kelechi, words fail me…. So Doc has gone back to his maker…. Your tribute is a testament of his greatness as a father, teacher and mentor.
    Back in the days at UNEC Nigeria, I see him as this quentisential gentleman, very laid-back and calm; that really has lots of love to share to you guys the family and the neighbors.
    He lived a good life and has gone to be with our Lord Jesus and Mother Mary.
    Be consoled because you’ve gained an angel.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What a beautiful tribute to an icon, our father and brother. A gentleman indeed. His goodness to mankind will never be forgotten as he touched many souls and fixed many people as a surgeon.
    May his sweet soul rest in perfect peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This was truly one of the greatest tributes. Your Dad has touched my heart and soul threw the pictures you had shown. When I look at him in your pictures, I’m not surprised, I feel his spirit around me.
    I bought his book, and I find myself not wanting to rush threw it. I’m going to “You Tube” the places where he mentions.
    Your family was very lucky to have him, and I’m sure he felt very lucky and honored to have you all in his life.
    I say a Prayer for you, that God will touch you with his healing hand. To give you comfort, healing and peace you need to get through.
    I Love You.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Nne words can’t even. Uncle is definitely an angel called home and our memories are blessed (and tasty) having had him in them. May his beautiful soul rest in perfect peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Chief as we all fondly called him was a personification of humanity at its best. He positively and greatly influenced all that knew him. He definitely lived a good life, and left an indelible foot print. May his soul continue to rest in the bosom of our Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What a beautiful tribute ❤️❤️. Your dad was so vibrant and lively! What a treasure to have shared such memorable experiences with him. Please be consoled my dear Kelechi and family. His legacy lives on!
    May the Holy Spirit comfort you all and May your dad’s soul Rest in the Lord 🙏🏾

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The pain of a father’s departure from this earth can not be described but is inevitable. Soak yourself in the memories you all created and be strong. He would expect you as the Ada, to be the shoulder for everyone to lean on. It’s not easy, but you can do it. My sincere condolences!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Dede as I fondly called him, was my uncle, and mentor. He epitomized generosity, humility, simplicity and was a humanitarian to the core.
    For many years, after ORAUSA Medical Mission, he would ask me to assist him for Eziachi Medical Mission. Everybody’s health was of paramount importance to him. He was our general healthcare GURU!
    Dede never cared for the spotlight or limelight. He preferred to operate from behind. Scene. Most humble and gentle.
    Dede as we say Adieu to you, I implore our Almighty God to accept your gentle soul in perfect peace.
    As for the family, Lolo, the entire family, our thoughts and prayers will be with you. Please have the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss of Dede.

    Austeen Onwudiwe


  25. This unfortunate news came as a surprise. Deem Goddy was God fearing and a family man. The pictures are testimonies to his goodness. He was the first Eziachi Town Union, USA ,President. An extraordinary human being, we will miss him.
    /Chief F O Ukwuoma
    President (ETU-USA)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Kele nwanne! These are beautiful pictures with vibrance and life in them to be cherished forever, but you can’t go through them without having the tears roll down as the reality of it all strike one pic after another. I lacked words and still lack words from the moment this news came, how? why ?what? How can? The questions as to how possible it can be kept rolling out, like this can’t be possible now! Hmmm!.Uncle is very much loved and will continue to be loved. With heaven gaining an extra wing in the person of uncle, we are sure he is in the best place looking down in awe of the pure love that exists towards him among us all. The cheer in his face when he sees children (us all) playing and having fun outside remains priceless! an uncle we were always excited to welcome! Death is truly rude and inconsiderate! Kech, please remain strong as we also strive to be strong in this heart wrenching reality that struck us all…


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