Tribute to My Mum

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Gone to Rest. . . Ferdinand Ekechukwu in  a solemn tribute to his beloved mum, Patience Ekechukwu who passed on recently at 63

When she specifically asked that she would need to see me that fateful March 23 morning, it was quite strange in the sense that hardly a day passes without my going to check on her at the hospital since she was on admission. I took it as a routine to either resume or sometimes end my day with her at the hospital; most times very late at night. So I was worried as the text message from a younger sibling hit my phone saying, “Try and come dis morning Nma [mum] say she wan see you.”

The message really got me upset. Being her first child, responsibilities on whatever decision to be taken rests on me. She was to undergo a surgery. My siblings and I were not ready to tell her for some reasons. We were also not comfortable with the planned operation. Somehow she got wind of it. Upon seeing me that morning, she called me by my pet name ‘Nnaa’ and spoke to me in our dialect as usual. She asked that she be taken back home pending when we were ready.

Yes, we were ready; we could provide the money just as stipulated for the surgery at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). But we felt the Consultant, Laparoscopic General  Surgeon, LUTH, Dr. Adedapo Osinowo was not doing enough; a story for another day. My mum really would not understand the situation at hand so it was easier said than done. Taking her back home wasn’t an option, and the surgery seemed very unlikely the way out of her situation.
However I would assure her that she was safe and would be fine just to calm her. She was very optimistic of living but unfortunately, by afternoon, she passed on. A life ended. A life once full of energy. We were devastated and not a few people who knew her was with the news of her demise. We had moved from one hospital to another and then to another. I could recall vivid images of those moments with her closely for weeks in February as I practically abandoned my space and laptop just to be with her in the village.

Compassionate and caring; to say she was a good mother is an understatement. She gave her best and was the best mum anyone could ever think of. Testimonies abound about her from friends and relatives far and wide. Even her ‘foes’ would take pains to speak ill of her if at all. I am saddened not in the fact that she’s gone but in the sense that she went home at the time she had just begun to take reward for her labour over her children.
Simple but unique in her sense of fashion and lifestyle, ‘Madam P original’ as she was fondly called by neighbours and her associates, was generous, kind and loving. Such love she extended to her younger siblings and their children. She gave herself, her love, her resources, her everything. She was dedicated to caring for her children and others around her. I feel blessed and very proud that she was my mother.

Dedicated to her duty as wife, mother, grandmother and sister, she was very committed to the course of life and morals and her responsibilities she lived up to, bringing up six children – three males, three females. Indeed, she personified her name which mirrors one of the cardinal virtues, patience. She lived a life worthy of emulation.  One could recall with nostalgia, fond memories of her days as trader, dealing in second-hand cloths.
The images fill my head as I travel down memory lane; my eyes filled with tears. From the occasionally putrid Jankara market in Idumota to the popularly rambunctious Aswani market, with her sisters, she toiled to support my father just so we could have the basic necessities of life, plus education. Her strength grew even stronger with my choice to further my education. The early days of late-night studies towards and during my degree exams was not without her partly awake whenever I was at home.

Then, there was that eventful incident that earned every student of University of Lagos an expulsion. A re-registration fee of N10,000  was mandated. One night she had opened her box full of wrappers; those the women would call ‘Hollandis’, ‘Abada’, real quality wax materials, and blouses and promised to sell off a few should the fee be a threat to my going back to school. Such was her nature. Her words were reassuring. She never owed anyone and paid everyone their dues.  She was so dear and true. Well organised and disciplined,  she had an indescribable inner strength. She was believable.
Born in 1955 to the family of Nze Nnawuihe and Lolo Nwagbor Grace Iwuagwu of Aboh Village in Amaokpara Community in Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State, her level of education wasn’t quite reflective of her attitude or a deterrent to her positive ways. What matters mostly for her was standard and the need for value appreciation. She gave equal love and chance to her children and was readily always available to admonish, imparting that which was worthy of in ways necessary. As a child growing up, there were times the stubborn me  disobeyed her and I got smacked harder for it.

She was the most precious and most beautiful in and out. She gave me life, she nurtured me, she loved me unconditionally, she taught me how to fight, to be myself and stand on my own. She taught me to fear no man but respect all. Since her demise, sometimes I feel I could have saved her. I don’t know but sincerely so. That thought keeps reverberating. Maybe because of the bond we shared strongly. She had promised me that she would never place a burden on me that would outweigh me in life.

Her profound belief that God in heaven watches over our actions rekindles hope. By Thursday April 19, the Christian women group of St. Mathew Catholic Church, Lagos will gather for a service of songs in her honour at her residence. By Saturday April 21, the men and women of Okwu Nguru in Aboh Mbaise LGA of Imo State resident in Lagos will gather to pay last respects to her, a devout member of the women’s executive.

Finally by Friday May 4, she will be committed to mother earth. Prior to that will be another gathering of the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) in Okwu Nguru village. It still seems like a dream that she’s  no more but has gone to rest in the bosom of Our Lord. I will miss you. . . already missing you Dearest Mum. Everyone of us you left behind do miss you, just as news of your passing left everyone in the neighbourhood, both young and old devastated. We cannot question the will of our Creator. But then, we are Happy you have gone to where there’s no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering.

… Adieu Good Mother.