I Miss Him 51 Comments

nolawi grandfatherMy Grandfather, he passed away at the beginning of this year. He was 87 years old. I am not in bereavement. I am looking at it as a conclusion to a great and fruitful life.

The older I get, the more I realize that Abaye, I called him that, had a great influence on me. Not just me, but all those around him. Some of the longtime readers of Bernos know that I mention him quite often in the articles and a lot more in my comments.

The Soldier

He had an amazing career amassing over 35 year as an officer in the Ethiopian Army. As a Lieutenant Colonel most of his career was as head of accounting for his division. He served in Congo among many other places as UN peace keepers.

He was an excellent soldier, looking at the drawer full medals and plaques, which were put away by the time I was around. He was long retired, when I knew him, but the soldier in him was always present. He was very charismatic; he was a great story teller. War stories were his specialty.

elizabeth in ethiopia

Seen here with his Medals and heading a ceremony for Q. Julian & her husband Prince Bernard of Holland in the late 60’s.

We spent endless hours of the night talking; he taught me the many stories; stories about the Arbegnoch, The Belay Zelekes and the Atses of Ethiopia. The strategies used by the English against the Italians on the Second Italo–Abyssinian War. How the Russians moved to Siberia, waited till the middle of winter and attacked the German’s in the Second World War. He told me all the stories all the way to the times of Ahmad Ibrihim the left handed.

soldierThe stories were not the only reminder of history as a lifelong soldier. He was very anal. Everything needed to be perfect, he didn’t like sloppy work. He would ask for it to be straightened. The shirts perfectly folded, the books, perfectly shelved.

He attire is always neat; in the early days, when I was around he would never leave the house with out his sports jackets, his pant always had a perfect crease, as they were always perfectly hanged. As was everything else. He knew were everything was;

bring me my address book, its in the second drawer in on the right next to scarfs”

and of course we were expected to put it back in the exact place where we got it from. Perpendicular to the edge of the drawer.

His Family

kidsFamily was very important to him as well, he raised 11 kids, including myself of which 5 were his own. By the time he died he was father to 5, grandfather to 16 and great grandfather to 6 and counting. (Seen on left with his five children)
By far his greatest quality was how he treated the kids, although I have heard that he was much stricter in his younger days. He talked to the kids as adults; better yet he treated us as adults.

He thought all of us, including some of the great grand kids about integrity, the importance of education and etc. He thought me how to tie my shoes, how to brush my teeth, how to tuck in my shirt, among many other things.

He had an amazingly long marriage; he was closing in on the 60th anniversary before he passed. We celebrated the 50th in 98 in Washington DC. My grandmother and grandfathers relationship were interesting together, she worried to incesently and he thought she was worrying for no reason. That same conversation happened almost everyday they were together, as far as I remember. They loved to play cards, and of course we joined in. Conquer were the games, and he won almost every time.

We would always eat together, table manners were important, he took his time to eat. We were not allowed to rush, still he would be at the table eating long after we were out playing.


Married fifty 57 years, seen here with his wife and my grandmother.

The Artist within

He was very religious; he did his Qedase every morning. Something he took from his father. He had a few Geez books from which he did his Qedase. He was a fan of bible stories, the stories of how Queen Sheba met King Solomon; or how a Jonah spent many nights in stomach of a shark.

He was also a enthusiast of Qine, he bought one book for the kids and sent it to them in the US.

He would tell me some of the Qine’s from the top of his mind and test me with the werq and sem. He had an amazing handwriting. I remember him trying to teach me how to write better Feedels; It didn’t work. There are several talented artists in his ancestry including that of Aleqa Mezmur Za Dawit, whom I have mentioned before. He was a fan of Illustrations. And although he was by no means a professional, he had drawing skills.

my grandfather

Here with my siblings and grandfather.

Of which, he could draw as well as write with both his hands. He liked portraits, he would draw one quickly and then I would ask him to do it again with his left. He played along.

It is said in the family that both my older sister and myself get the talent from him and his ancestry.

The songs I remember; I have mentioned before of the songs he would sing to us. I learned recently that he did that with the great grandchildren as well.

Abaye, I miss and love you so much, you will always be with me!

51 Responses to “I Miss Him”

  1. 1 mae

    nolawi, this is beautiful. it seems he lead a great life. you and your family are in my heart! may god rest his soul..

  2. 2 Ephrem

    Betam arif Nolawi. I hope you video recorded him telling the stories. Thanks for sharing.


  3. 3 celebratelife

    Beautiful just beautiful! I am way too emotional to read this story. I can’t stop crying not because your grandfather passed but how you cherish the moments and celebrate his life and your life with him. This is a beautiful story and thank you so much for sharing.

    I see a lot of your grandfather in you. You are blessed to have been around him enough to be influenced. Continue with your wonderful memory of your life together to keep his spirit alive. I feel like I know him just from reading this. You are such a positive person and I just love it.

    Many times we dwell on losing the person instead of recognizing how wonderful they were. People don’t leave us because they stay within our heart and continue to affect us in ways that is sometimes indescribable. Oh my goodness Nolawi you don’t wanna know what I think of you now.

    Since I don’t know many Amarigna songs I dedicate to you and your grandfather “Because you loved me” by Celine Dion

  4. 4 joska

    A beautiful story. Let me correct you on one thing. The foreign visitors on the picture are not Queen Elisabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh but the former Dutch Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernard of Lippe Biesterfeld.

  5. 5 Zee/ethioDutch

    Your Grandpa’s pic. with the royal couple is actualy with Q. Julian and her husband Prince Bernard of Holland in the late 60′s. They have visited Addis and other parts of Ethiopia…..

  6. 6 Nolawi

    ok guys thanks…will edit!

  7. 7 celebratelife

    Ditto Belew! If you’re saying what I think you’re saying…who cares where the Queen is from his grandfather had a wonderful life. Enough with the corrections already!

  8. 8 yonas

    wow nol, a very touching and beautiful post of a great role model who has clearly influenced you in a big way. thanks for sharing.

    in the last pic, are you the CHuCHe sitting next your grandfather?

  9. 9 Dinich


    Great story. The story kind of shows on his face on the first picture. If you didn’t tell us his story and just put that picture on, we would still have been able to see a lot of the things you said right on his face.

    God help us learn from people like him.

  10. 10 curious

    That is beautiful.. makes me want to call my grandmother back home and tell her how much I love her. As a matter of fact, I will!

  11. 11 Yemi

    A nice tribute:)

  12. 12 Nolawi

    thanks everyone
    [quote comment="20185"]

    in the last pic, are you the CHuCHe sitting next your grandfather?[/quote]
    ya that is me yonas

  13. 13 lulu

    Nolawi – Your grandfather was blessed to have lived such a full life surrounded by his family. And you are blessed to have had such a positive role model.

  14. 14 Timo

    What a touching piece. I second what Celebrate said, people don’t die, they continue to live in our hearts!

    Moral of this story is, you will not be remembered by your mansion or your jaguar, but by how you have touched peoples’ hearts. Do the right thing!

  15. 15 celebratelife

    Dang belew and I thought you were a positive person….why can’t you just enjoy the story for what it is? I’m so sick and tired of people who rain on other peoples parade. This is such a beautiful story please let us enjoy it without your nasty comments.

  16. 16 soj

    This is his life dude, now go get urs…schizer….
    Great story BTW NoLawi…tnx for sharing..

  17. 17 ababiru

    Great story indeed. Very touching.

    belew – so how high has your self confidence gone up since your last comment? Needed to step on others to feel better about your no life self, heh? You must think your are cool. Plese go look into a mirror and face reality.

    Sorry folks – it is really getting tiring with these type of people.

  18. 18 celebratelife

    Belew, of course you can say whatever the hell you want…so can we! Obviously you’re bitter for some unknown reason and you’ve decided to focus on Nolawi and this Blog. The interesting part of it all is that you’ve changed your nick so many times but your bitterness is still there in your writing! Why don’t you just let it be. I used to actually enjoy reading your writing but for some unknown reason you’ve decided to go down the “I hate everyone” road. You don’t know Noalwi and if you did you’d be contacting him directly and not trying to have a show down in public. What you’re trying to prove or state is not our problem.

    Now can we move on?

  19. 19 Nolawi

    People Please Ignore Belew Comments… It is the same person as Desta Keremela…

    Who has been giving us trouble for about a month now. Thanks…

  20. 20 Shaleqa

    Belew -

    you are like a crazy kebero posed for free entertainment in the middle of Showa Robit. What kind of jerk are you?
    Anonymity should not be a license to stupidity unless you are a genuine idiot, which apparently seems to be the case here!

    Folks, ignore this guy and thanks Nolawi for sharing a great piece of story that need to be told. We donot have a country that, atleast for now, honours its great veterans. I am also proud when I remember my great great grand father who fought the Italians in the Maichew war. He passed away when I was a 2nd grade – loooong time. But his shields and spears and his Hat are still at home!

  21. 21 Doro Mata


    Thank you for sharing Nolawi.

    I seriously had tears in my eyes reading this.

    Makes me wish either of my grand fathers had lived long enough for me to remember them.

    you are lucky. and it seems he had lived a full life … but that time has to come to everybody

    what a beautiful family you have. really enjoyed reading this :)

  22. 22 nyalasmoke

    excellent job Nolawi! I definitely enjoyed reading that great tribute. Thank u


  23. 23 Lilye

    WOW, Nolawi, I too couldn’t hold back my tears. Beautiful & touching story. Of course it reminds me of my grand father who passed…. his stories, palying card with him… But mostly I miss not having those kind of father figures around, their grace & warmth, their wisdom, their stories and mostly their advice. Someone to call Gashe. My heart sinks everytime I see old black men, not often here. I MISS my grand pa, my dad, my uncles and all those gashes that graced my life.

    Thank you Nolawi, I have to go for a walk now!

  24. 24 kiki

    Beautiful tribute, Nolawi. It made me miss the gradfathers I never knew. You were very lucky to have known him.

  25. 25 Abebe

    God rest his soul and give you and the rest of your family strength to cope with your loss.
    Thank you for sharing.

  26. 26 Mamitu

    My condolences, I was crying all the way through reading your tribute to your grandpa. Ayezoh!

  27. 27 Ethio Jazz


    Thanks for an emotional and touching tribute. Your grandfather lived a wonderful life. My condolonces to you and your entire family.

  28. 28 kilomamo



    I am truly sorry about your loss. Thank you for sharing. As they say our loved once really never leave as they live through us. Case and point I don’t know if anyone of us had a chance to know your Grandfather while he was alive but now you have given as a chance to now a little bit about him. In spirit he is with us.

    Thank you,

  29. 29 chelema

    Oh wow! Talk about a great story. Nolawi, just know that you’ve been blessed to have lived a life that many of us still wished we had. Very touching indeed. thanks for sharing.

  30. 30 C

    This was a really good tribute to someone who is obviously quite important to you. It’s funny the things that guide our memories, which is why things like this or so important to us remembering.

  31. 31 Baheilu

    This story reminding my own grandfather who was a Captain in Ethiopian Army. He passed away when I was a kid and didn’t have a close relationship as you have.
    Any way, it is a good story and thanks for sharing it with us.

  32. 32 Wudnesh

    Dinich is right….the first picture says a LOT. Yigermal how one can see beyond the obvious through a picture.
    Betam nice story…tnx for sharing….I envy u….always wished I had my grandfathers just to listen to their stories…..and have enjoyed the stories u share about your family. Tnx again…and am glad u said

    I am looking at it as a conclusion to a great and fruitful life.

  33. 33 Mengedegna

    That’s a beautiful tribute, Nolawi!! You’re indeed very lucky to have shared these cherished memories with your grandfather. Thanx for sharin this with us, and may his soul rest in eternal peace!

  34. 34 Maki

    Nal; Nice of you to share your legacy of your grandfather with us! Indeed he was a great person, great grandfather, and a great soldier!! Your memories took me back to my grandmother and my dad telling me war stories… There is something in thier generation that captured our hearts forever.

    Kudos to you for keeping his memories ALIVE!

    P.S. Now I know where you got your card skills! ;-)

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