In the spirit of mother's day, I decided to write a short tribute to my mother. She passed away nine years ago. I never thought in a million years that I would lose my mother. I felt like Job in the bible, who lamented, "the thing I feared the most has come upon me." I was so scared of death growing up, that the thought of losing anyone I loved was devastating to me. I also grew up with death happening in my family. My mother lost three siblings within the space of 6 years. So that instilled a lot of fear in me, as a child.
Mom and Dad in South Korea
In 2009, I had a longing to go home for the summer break. Usually, my parents took turns to come to the US each year to visit my brother and me, but that year, I felt the need to go home and be with my family. Luckily my parents heeded my request and purchased tickets for my brother and me to come back home. One morning she came into my room frantically. Speaking to my cousin who shared a room with me, she said "Help me check out this lump in my armpit, what do you think it is?" Me jumping out of my not so deep sleep responded: “Mommy you have to get that checked out." That was how our six-month hospital journey began, from the moment we found out she had cancer, to the time she died, was six months. It was filled with a lot of prayers, fears, faith, and tears.
"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her."
My mother was a remarkable woman. She cared for her children and the people around her so much. She related with people equally regardless of their class; she never discriminated against anyone. No wonder she was loved by many. She always wanted everyone around her to be happy even at the expense of her happiness. She was a hard worker as she juggled a 9-5, and ran two hair salons successfully. After a hard day's work, she still came home and made sure we had food on our table. Growing up with my mom was the best. We enjoyed being at home more when dad was off at work (love you dad) because she let us do whatever we wanted to do. We could eat our meals in the living room, we could watch movies till late at night, and we could go sleep over at friends/family's house.
I remember one day she was so mad at me and my brother for using Okada (bike) home from school. Anyone living in Nigeria knows how unsafe that mode of transportation is. My brother and I grew impatient waiting for my cousin to get us from school that we decided to use a bike home. Those were the times with no cellphones, so when my cousin went to school to get us, and we weren't in school, there was no way he could contact us, and we hadn't gotten home either. My mother was so worried that when we got home, she let us have it.
Later on, she came to apologize to me in my room, saying she was so concerned and we are the only ones she has, and it will crush her if anything happened to us. And there was another incident that occurred that let me know she loved me a lot. So it was valentine's day circa 2003 and I went out with my high school boyfriend (sheesh they didn't know that). We went to a fast food restaurant and I got some snacks to go home as well. On getting home, I gave my family some to eat, while I ate some too. I remember my mom asking me how I had gotten the food and I gave her a cock and bull story (she would had killed me if you knew I had a boyfriend at 14).
My dad was not around so I spent the night in her room. At about 2 am, I woke up choking! I couldn't breath for some reason. I ran frantically into her bathroom and threw up (sorry for that image) but whatever was stuck in my windpipe didn't come out. I was going around her room like a mad person and she was trying to chase after me, and at the same time crying and pleading with God not to take her child away. I eventually went into my dad's bathroom and threw up again, and the culprit came out, and I was so relieved, with my mom letting out a sigh of relief also, mumbling "thank you Jesus." We weren't aware of the Heimlich Maneuver at the time, or at least we didn't think to apply it. I was so scared, I thought I was going to be separated from my mom forever as I did not see any way out of that episode. I was grateful to God that whatever was stuck in my throat, found its way out and also grateful for another chance at life. Who would had known I was choking in my room at 2 am, if I had spent the night alone?
When I was in college and would spend my money carelessly, I will call her crying that I was broke. She will always say, you know your dad will kill you if he finds out you are out of cash so soon but don't worry, I will save up some money, when it gets to $1000, then I will send it to your aunt, to transfer it to you. Her love for her children was unfathomable. That is why it broke my heart to watch her struggle for her life in 2009, while she was in the intensive care unit. She fought until she didn’t have it in her to fight anymore. While she was in the hospital she would worry about how my cousins (who she was taking care of) would carry on without her, talk about selflessness! I know her parting words to my aunt who took care of her in her final days were "take care of my children." Gosh! Thinking of it now still brings tears to my eyes. She was a mother until the very end! It's been nine years, and I can tell you that not a day has gone by in all those years that I don't think about her.
Mommy and me in Lafayette
I didn't know you could love someone so much even after their demise. I think of what she will think of me right now. Will she be proud? Will she be a fantastic mother in law to my sister in law? (I'm sure she would have loved her), will she give me grief about staying at home all the time, without going out to meet new people? Mommy, the void you left nine years ago can never be filled. You were one of a kind; I am grateful to God for blessing me with such a gift for 21 years. I know our relationship wasn't perfect, but I am still glad, that I got to spend your last days here on earth with you. It lessened the blow. Happy mother's day, it doesn't get any better than you. I pray that one day, I will be the amazing woman of God that you were. I love you forever.
Happy mother's day to all the lovely mothers out there, you have a tremendous job, do not take it for granted. For those who will one day become mothers, God will give you the grace to play the role effortlessly. If you have lost your mom, I am sure this day is one of the hardest, just know that God loves you and has His arms wrapped around you. What quality do you admire the most about your mother? comment below! have a blessed day. And don't forget to subscribe to never miss an update!