My Beautiful Mother Goes Home
Published: February 11 2013 By Abiodun Giwa
With Mama June 2012.
After graduation from college in June 2012 and some years of living in the United States,
I traveled to Nigeria to see my mother. I had wanted to wait until after my masters program,
but had feelings I needed to see her and couldn't wait. I made seeing her the sole purpose
of visiting, didn’t visit any other place from my house in Ipaja beside Ikorodu, where she
lived my youngest sister. When I was about to return to the U.S., I couldn’t say bye to her,
but promised to call her when I arrived New York.
I heard from one of my younger sisters that when she learnt I had left she exclaimed, “He has
gone back to America!” I recognized her feeling for me. I could have remained in Lagos for her.
But I needed to accomplish what I had started-acquiring higher education-which my country had
denied me, because of my poor family background, but had the opportunity in America and for
which she was happy. My sister told me my mother was visibly happy for the transformation she
saw in me, talked about my stature, and bouncing with joy on her seat.
Before I left Lagos, I asked Mama if she wanted to go back to the village. She said it wasn’t
time and she will tell me when it was time. I sensed what she meant and I kept it to myself. But I
insisted on her need to return to the village to the comfort of her people and near her two older
daughters. My sister said Mama was better off in Lagos and she may die in the village where
she would have no access to medical. I called my elder brother in Europe, his view allied with my
sister’s. I gave up.
In November, my wife visited my mother before her trip to New York, my mother begged her
to tell me I should come and take her home, and that reminded what she told me before I left
Lagos for New York. But, I couldn’t go and take her out, against my sister and brother’s wish. I
resigned to fate.
In December, seven months after my departure from Lagos, my sister called and said my mother
had a stroke. I asked what side of her body was affected, she said her left side. I was devastated.
At 87, could my mother survive a stroke on the left side of her body? Questions begged for
answers and imaginations ran riot in my mind. On the street, on my way to work and speaking to
my sister on phone, I told her that I believed my mother had started her last journey and asked for
possibility of moving her to the village, to avoid the unexpected a long distance from her home.
My sister said she wanted to take her to a private hospital, but the hospital demanded a deposit
of N200,000.00 ($1300.00) before my mother could be admitted. There wasn’t a way to rush
money to her on a weekend. Consequently, my mother was taken to a public hospital, and later
moved to a private hospital after money was made available. After few days of her admission in
the private hospital, another call from my sister said my mother was in comma.
I told her on phone that my mother may have started her last journey. I said my consolation
was Mama accompanied her goal in life; she saw us through our struggles and ensured we were
on our feet. I recollected how she sprang to action following the assassination of her first journalist
son with a letter bomb in 1986 to ensure what happened to the journalist would not happen to any
of her remaining children. I agreed with my sister to take her in, to avoid people influencing her to
unorthodox ways for our protection when she discussed it with me. Before the time, she visited
Lagos, spent time and went back to the village.
Mama breathed her last on her third day in comma. I lost an only confidant and a partner in
struggle. The first day I saw her after my brother’s assassination in 1986, where she sat with other
women mourning in a back room, her first statement was, “The danger you warned Dele about
eight months ago had happened.” She listened to her children and never pressure on any of us
on choice of wife or husband. One thorny crisis in her life was the threat our father’s decision for
a second wife posed to her life. I watched my mother in crisis. At eighteen, I told my father I could
not leave my mother in his house to go begin a struggle of my own in the city for the marital
circumstance to wreck her. My father acquiesced and sought an arrangement to resolve the
impasse. It was one crisis no one could save my mother, but which I blatantly refused to live with
and forced the circumstance to an end.
My mother loved and respected my father. She never opposed him for any reason other than
when a marital issue threatened her life and she followed my decision for her to live. When there
was no money for my high school, my mother’s nephew asked that I could go to school in Asaba
on his purse, my father opposed it and my mother never pressed it. Her devotion was ensuring
hunger wasn’t in our home. She never depended on anyone for monetary needs. She knew
seasons for cash crops my father planted she processed and sold to the public for home needs.
She never went beyond her means; never attended a party or went out with friends. She worked
round the clock for income to compliment her husband’s efforts. Her children were her friends and
devotion. We learnt from her and father to rely on our hands and strength, though city travails
often challenge that resolve.
“The child of a beautiful woman,” wives of a king in a city of our sojourn referenced me as a child.
This weekend, the beautiful woman goes on a final journey home.