Throughout my life I've told so many friends, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances one thing about my father - he gave his family a perfect life.

I don't use the word 'perfect' lightly. Perfect doesn't mean the biggest, the most expensive, or the most ostentatious. It means the most considered, stable, balanced. It means growing up never having to experience doubt or uncertainty. As an adult I see every day how invaluable an experience my childhood was. As a child, I took it for granted, because of course he could do absolutely anything.

But that's not entirely true. I knew then and I know now that there were some things he couldn't do. He could never make you feel beneath, or unequal, or inconsequential. He could never diminish or dismiss your point of view.

He could never make you feel undeserving. He could never refuse when he knew he could offer even a little assistance. He could never even consider imposing his will on others.

Words like "selflessness" and "humility" give an impression of how he chose to live his life. It's impossible to describe him without using one or both of these words, just as it's impossible to write this tribute without writing about his impact on other people. How do you describe the lives he quietly changed, the support he extended to anyone who needed it, the joy he took in every award, every graduation, every new opportunity. He took pride in all of these things but he never took the credit. What word can describe how thoroughly he lived his life for other people, without hesitation and without ever asking for anything in return?

I struggled for years to find that word, so that I could finally tell him how much he meant to me. My greatest fear was that I would run out of time. Now here I am, still looking for words, even though I know it's too late.

Being your daughter will always be my greatest blessing. I love you.

Your daughter, Ifeoma