Tribute: Remembering Elsie Tonye-Leggjack

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By Solomon Leggjack

It is amazing that two years after her demise and the accompanying absence, we remain baffled – wondering if it is truly over, because of undying evidence of her beautiful memory in our minds.

Her Sojourn on earth and life’s accomplishments are so full of pleasant memories of her walking in Love, and absolute devotion to us as a wife and mother at home and as an enigmatic health care professional in the hospital where she worked. We admired her to no end for being incurably cerebral but nonetheless approached every task either at home or outside with the commitment of a zealot.

We have often heard that love and devotion are the highest virtues of a wife, a mother or both and when viewed through the prism of her humility of Spirit and unwavering stewardship and love to this family and commitment to the general public at her work place makes her a “living hospitality” properly so called.

Elsie and I came into matrimony with clear and utter dislike for marital disharmony – particularly the issue(s) of separation and divorce, but interestingly, she was more farsighted and pragmatic in taking measures aimed at enhancing matrimonial harmony and concord.

I recall vividly how she voiced her objection to my suggestion for us to keep our home in Lagos while she pursues her residency training programme in UCH Ibadan, insisting that we would rather move to Ibadan and run one home.

Relatedly too upon relocation from Lagos to Ibadan where we would spend 12 years, six of which was in University College Hospital (UCH), she had also insisted both of us would have and keep only one bedroom despite my view to the contrary.

She had argued then, that these were twin socially invasive viruses that poach at marriages with varying but detrimental consequences. While the former according to her, tend to engender avoidable marital discords and difficulties in various insidious ways, the latter- she maintained, makes reconciliations after disagreements or quarrels between spouses, slow, protracted and often times out-rightly difficult. On this I must admit to my shame, that I had on good many occasions acknowledged same to be correct during her life time.

Similarly, we both shared vision (being products of average middle-class families) regarding the desirability of spouses being actively engaged in paid employment until it becomes practicable to venture into self employment. The aim was to keep busy and put each other in reasonable contemplation (within the home economy) of such moments as “I no get any money now……. till month end please” and it works for us. Admittedly, my wife to her credit and to my eternal relief also, believed that a good and functional matrimonial home should have “prepared food ready for consumption” at all material times and would spare no effort to meet any emergency in a bid to prepare one before she either retires to bed or goes to work each day. Visitors and guests to our home also had their share of her admirable and very hospitable disposition.

She took all hygiene and health related matters to a level I could never have imagined and as a rule ensured that all plates used for dinner at home must be washed to dry over night, rather wash them in the morning contrary to what I had known and lots more. She would also insist that none of us should retire into our night/sleeping gowns except and unless such a person is ready to retire to bed thereafter.

The love between us was tested when a senior colleague and my senior at the university who paid a visit to us in Ibadan after work one day and as he departed for home, he asked me if this was how I return home and sit all evening with my wife till bed time? I answered in the affirmative, drawing a surprise look all over his face – as he exclaimed ‘old boy I can’t oo’! and to which I calmly replied, that it is possible if we marry whom we actually loved to make every matrimonial moment exciting as ever.

We also had some remarkable moments while at UCH – particularly when two notable academicians and professors of repute – Professors Tekena Tamuno and Tam David West (both of blessed and unforgettable memories) paid us surprise visits each on two different Saturday mornings but within a week interval. The former a Professor of History and one time VC of UI and the latter a Professor of virology and former Petroleum Minister and on the strength of whose recommendation my late wife was admitted or employed as full Resident Doctor to pursue her residency programme in Radiology in UCH-Ibadan. Their visit was to celebrate the birth of our last baby and they left us with generous cash gifts in cheques for the new born baby.

It must be stated that both great men were our father figures and were generous with their time whenever we visited them at their homes at Bodija/by Secretariat GRA and No. 19 Sankore Street, U.I. respectively throughout our sourjourn in Ibadan. Their visits to our home – it may surprise readers, earned for my wife varying degrees of reactions by neighbors within (C-Block where we lived) and colleagues in her office, including those who out rightly but erroneously accused her of flaunting our connections.

Late Dr. (Mrs) Elsie F. Tonye–Leggjack upon the successful completion of her residency programme took up employment with BMSH in our home state – Rivers as a Consultant Radiologist where she worked and died in active service on 24th April, 2018.

My late wife possessed a very lovely, clean, kind and generous heart, who would always return words of gratitude to God for his blessings and for acts of benevolence from others, while disappointments or reversal of fortune in whatever form or unpleasant circumstances will elicit nothing but “God is our Master planner” from her. Little wonder her fellow consultants and other colleagues from LUTH and UCH Ibadan, freely and in great numbers filed out in her honour during her funeral and burial obsequies on Friday 8th June 2018 in Kalaibram, Opobo.

Her general kind, courteous and feverous soul will continue to find deserve peace in the Bossom of the Lord, amen.

  • Solomon Leggjack Esq., is the husband of Late Elsie Tonye-Leggjack