“The essence of life is to live it, not watch it” – Adeolu Akinyemi
The inspiration for this quote, is merely watching my mum, and listening out to the people whose lives she had touched. My mum was important to so many people, she was their “somebody” that made their lives better, their crosses easier to bear and rekindled their hope. My mum was a template for the virtous woman described in Prov 31, the more I read it, the more I remember her. I have not ceased to ask myself a fundamental question, “when would have been a good time for her to die?” The more I ask and think, the more I realize, that for us her children, for her brother, friend, business partner and lover – my dad, for her relations near and far and for the many lives she touched, there would never be a good time! There is never a good time to lose a loved one, even at 90, she’ll still have left us puzzled. I can remember my dad shedding tears at the burial of his 78yrs old mother, there is never a good time. One thing is sure though, life should be measured by donation, not duration. What matters is not how long, it’s how well! Thinking like this, I have every course to celebrate my mum’s temporary separation from me. I am confident that we’ll meet again at Jesus’ feet, I am confident that she has voluntarily joined the company that constitute the cloud of witnesses. I am happy that my mum lived a life that if I can set as benchmark for mine, I’ll be driven till I’m done! I know that God is all wise, all his word is perfect and all his ways are just.
My mum had a glorious exit, and there are many things to learn from her life. I’ll attempt a few here, and if I’m so inspired, I’ll do a book in her honour. On the 21st of June, 2009, my mum dressed for her last church service. Very early in the morning of that day, she bade farewell to all of us her children. We had all come home from Lagos, for my younger sister’s wedding introduction the previous day. Even though the meeting was meant to have less than 60 people, my mum had killed one of her cows (yeah.. she has cows she’s rearing) and shared it for all her children and sibblings. We all saw mummy on Sunday, unaware of course that that was the last time we’ll see her alive and well. We hugged, waved and went. In a series of events, that led to her driving to church, and sitting, as ever and always beside her husband she decided to share her testimony. She raised a song as she stood up, and stood at the pulpit (Gbese ope me po, mi o le san tan, sugbon o sibe sibe, hun o se iwon ti mo le se, baba a laanu mi, e ma se o baba – My debt of thanksgiven is more than I can pay, but never the less, I will do the best I can, my father the merciful, thank you). Everyone sang along, and she started to share her testimony. She shared on, until she got to a point and announced to the church, I am feeling dizzy, at which point she slumped in the ready hands of my dad and her pastor. That was when the chariot that took her to heaven came, that was the last time she stood on her feet for the next 11 days that ended with her being taken. The doctors called it a hemorrhagic stroke, and showed that it was really up to God or nature. Between those days, she spoke for some and was unconscious for others. Her life flashed before our eyes and I’m sure hers as well. Her 56yrs have been more life than 200 regular years. Many hope to die in the lord, my mum was a child of God at her death, and even took her departure from his house -the assembly of his people.
There are loads of things I have learnt from my mum, and there is a lot more that I am learning. Learn with me.
1. Do all the good you can, to all the people you can.
My mum was a nurse by profession, but beyond the practice of nursing where her salary was paid, my mum was like a local messiah to her community. All my growing up days, it was never a rare occurrence for my mum to be called out at 1am to come and help someone – from delivering a baby, to rushing someone to the hospital, to someone’s child having a seizure e.t.c. In her last years, she took it beyond medicine into education, and even into financial empowerment. She’ll do all she can to ensure people in her community get education, she was the bridge between the young and the old. Her pastor told me that it was as if she planted the church, she was matron to the youths and a sister to the adults. I recollect my mum following up regularly with me to ensure that I gave a scholarship to some students she believed were deserving. I remember her organizing for some community people with an admission overseas to come see me to help them. I remember my mum singlehandedly traveling to attend a FGC alumni meeting in Ogun State, just because she felt she would meet some old students who would be sympathetic to the dwindling plight of their schools. My mums friends and enthusiasts consist of people from extreme segments of the class, age and religious divides. My mum didn’t care if you were illiterate, young or muslim – her care was unconditional. ” She introduced me into the cooperative”, “she helped me with this need and that”, “it’s because of her that I am alive today”, “I lived with her family for many years, while I had no options”, “She sacrificed hers for mine”. These are some of the things I hear people say. Someone prayed for us the children, that may all the good my mum did to people without hoping for anything back, may that good pave our way and be returned back to us in full measure. Trust me, that prayer is thick.
2. Be Industrious
If you have never read Proverbs 31, go and read it. If you have and you thought it was idealistic, you are wrong! My mum was virtuous and industrious. One thing that attempts to pain me is the fact that we would have been able to spoil her more and do a lot more for her if she stayed, but I know that where she is, is without comparison. My mum was a business woman per excellence. I believe I inherited her charisma and her never giving up attitude. What did my mum not do? As at the time of her death, from the last discussion I had with her, she was worried a bit about her farmland (acres of farmland) – this year she had planted lots of yam, and she was worried about the rain. She had a few cows with the cooperative ranch. I’ve seen her support my Dad’s batik business as the Sales Director, and Admin Manager. I’ve watched my mum do egg sales business and from Ilorin supply Lagos and Ibadan. I have seen her buy bags of maize to transport to store and sell in Sokoto. Fish farming, Cassava, Maize, Beans, e.t.c. My mum operated a pharmacy for years and had to stop because she was having to close by midnight everyday and didn’t want her family to lose out by the businesses success. My mums salary was not fantastic, yet she invested in shares, invested in Land… I recall her last call to me asking for my advice before making an investment. My mum was my dad’s right hand woman. My dad is a bundle of patience and temperance, my mum provides the passion and the drive. I’ve seen her do businesses and fail, I’ve seen her do the ones that succeed, with my mum, failure was no excuse. Life was meant to be lived, and she turbo-ed it!
3. Don’t let your age limit you.
Many of us carry our age and status to much to our hearts. Not my mum, also not my dad. My mum had good friends among my friends. And to show she liked them, she came all the way to Lagos to attend their weddings. Imagine the scene, my friend is wedding, and I’m there with my wife and my mum – She was that into the next generation. Even this year she has done the same. My mum is on facebook, she has a computer with internet access, she learnt forex trading last year. My mum read my website from time to time. My mum bought a copy of success digest last year, and decided to pay for training and learnt how to cultivate fish. My mum was never limited by age. She was a friend of young and old, and she wasn’t a friend in words, she was in deed. At age 56 she could have passed for 42. I have never felt uncomfortable talking about anything in my mum’s presence, she was one of us when she was 40 and one of us when she was 50 and 56.
4. Have a fighting peaceful spirit.
Most people become perpetual losers in life, not because they lack what it takes, but because they gave in just a little too early. People regularly settle for less than they are capable of, they stop fighting and resign to fate. My mother was a fighter! She was a fighter from as long as I have known her. She didn’t believe in letting things settle as the first course of action. Her first course was to go there and speak up for what she believed was right. If my mum relays a story that happened 35yrs ago, you will feel the emotions. She started taking responsibility at barely 20yrs old when her dad died, and left her as the first born of some sort. She learnt to stand up for herself, her siblings and her family. It didn’t’ matter who you were, as far my mum was concerned if there was fire on your head, it can be brought down and put out. As quickly as she was prone to fight however, she was also quick to make up. I remember one classical example of a time when I was really young. It wasn’t ever a rare sight to see my mum and dad arguing about one point or the other. On one such instance, they were actually outside and the argument was quite hot and the voices high. The neighbors heard, and thought it would be a great opportunity to settle their argument and possibly introduce them to Christ. It took the neighbors about 3-5mins to gather themselves and come to our house, by the time they got in, my mum and my dad were laughing hilariously over a game of scrabble. Fight for what you want, but be rational and peaceful. Interestingly when my mum came back to consciousness after slumping, she told my dad, “I have to go back there and finish my testimony, I have to also warn/instruct people, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody!” She fought it for a while to stay, but when she became aware that it was God’s time, she peacefully resolved. Her pastor said God told him specifically, “leave her for me”, around the exact time she died, God instructed me to ask… This is what I want, but nevertheless thy will be done, and I did.
5. Shine your Light
I have lots of great memories of my mum. On her account I have gone to speak to the students and staff of FGC Ilorin twice. I’m almost becoming a regular feature at their founders day. She’s been a mother close by and impactful to me, and indeed to all of us. My mum is not someone to blend in a crowd, she is a light that shines wherever she is placed. She’ll call me to let me know she is praying for me, and all of us. In her church, she’s that nice woman that hugs everybody, to her pastor, this is the only woman in church that I hug, we are like family. My mum held her light high and shared it. I’ve been watching people come over to my parents house to cry, some to weep, and yet others to recount one incidence or the other. She wasn’t hid under a bushel, she wasn’t buried under the moronic excuse of I have a job and I am busy. She lived life to the fullest, touched souls without number, tolerated many from different backgrounds, partnered well with her husband and left for me a legacy of a life lived with zest. I remember in the church I grew up where men sat on one side, and women on the other… not my folks. Their family was a unit, and they were not going to bend to any practice that separated men to their friends and women to theirs. My mum was different, and she let it show.
There is a lot I’m hearing and learning, I hope to still compile more of the perspectives to share with all that are interested. Someone said if God asked for volunteers to die instead of my mum, there would have been volunteers. She’s gone however, because it’s God’s time. My mum is gone ahead to be with God, I intend to make that transition to life eternal, to the realm of Gods kingship. I hope you do too. I intend to live my dreams and pursue my purpose because of such a great inspiration my mum and my dad have been to me! Maybe I’ll write my own- Dreams of My Mother 🙂