They Broke the Mold: My Father and Nelson “Madiba” Mandela

Sixteen years old is way too young to lose your father. My mother gently gathered together my two brothers and me like a mama-bird and her young chicks. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Dad broke the mold. No one can ever replace him.”

I bowed my head and nodded – so true, my heart ached, yet I appreciated that I was blessed to have had him in my life for a short, yet meaningful, time.

He shaped my youth, providing opportunities that young girls would have dreamed of. Because my parents worked at the restaurant 24/7, we had no time for vacations. I traveled with friends abroad, attended the best schools, had fun at summer camp, and was even enrolled in modeling classes. I had the life of a princess, and he was my king. The mold was broken when Dad passed away.

His uniqueness of spirit, kindness, compassion, power, charity, tenacity, love of family and friends was incomparable and uncompromising. I only wish he was with me much longer – to love, protect, and guide me – and for me to love him.

Like my father, Nelson “Madiba” Mandela also broke the mold. No one can ever replace him. His life is an example of a diamond, shining brightly in a world of hate, ignorance, prejudice, violence, suffering, unfairness, and meanness. He broke the mold in many ways, mostly from his magnanimity to forgive his enemies . . . those who tortured him and tried to break his spirit, and decimate his will power.

In Latin, the word “forgive” means to release. He was able in those charcoal nights in that cold, cramped, damp, dark, and lonely cell, to transform his lead-hardened thoughts into gold. He is a diamond of compassion who focused on the future and love for his country and fellow South Africans. He released and let go of the burden of misunderstandings, and lived on a higher plane. He forgave and his life became … alchemy of the spirit.

Oh dear Nelson Mandela, thank you for being our adopted father to our world family. I believe family is who you love and who loves you. Dear Madiba, your heart was large enough to embrace all of us around the globe. Your life is a testament that shined brightly and showed us how to follow our convictions, to stand tall and proud, and know our worth as human beings and children of God. You taught us to forgive your enemies, for as you forgave your enemies, you released and let go of suffering in order to live a life filled with purpose and grace.

 The mold has been broken and we have been blessed.  Hail! Chief and Father Mandela, your ancestral tribe and world family embrace and honor your life.

With gratitude and love,

Melanie Lococo

December 9, 2013

Please visit my website for more stories, reflections, and upcoming events: http://www.melanielococo.com

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