She was always there. A larger than-life and an ever constant presence in my life. I not only loved her, I stood in awe of her. There was something about her that was both intimidating and reassuring at the same time, and she was just 5’3.
I also was proud of her and the older I got, the prouder I got of the woman who gave me live.
Then, suddenly, she was no more. We lost her to the cold hands of death, at the age of 49, my Mum passed away.
My world came to a standstill. Till date, it was one of the few heart-wrenching experiences of my life, it was the first, others have followed since then. There were so many things that came to mind, top among them the fact that she was just too young to die, she should have enjoyed some fruits of her labours after sacrificing so much raising so many people. I had too many questions and my heart felt like it was literally broken. The pain was inexplicable and today, more than 10 years after, it still is.
As I grieved with a heavy heart, I had thought I knew my Mum, but I was in for a shocker.
On the day of her funeral, I met my Mum.
The turnout was shocking.
People from work, people from church, people from different parts of the country where she worked at one time or the other. People we knew, people we didn’t know. Family, friends, foes, friends of friends. We didn’t know where they all came from.
As the funeral service went on, the officiating minister, (a well respected minister who my Mum contributed to his ministerial training and who flew in from the U.S to be at her funeral) somehow asked if there was anyone in the impressive crowd who my Mum had affected positively.
Four people came out and while the first person spoke, there were 12 and by the time the 4th person finished, there were more than 25 people standing in line.
The more the people spoke, others joined the queue. I believe that even the minister was so overwhelmed that he didn’t know how to stop them.
As these people, some of them I knew and many others I didn’t, shared all the different ways that my mum has been a part of their lives, how she had offered a helping hand, how she had provided succour, how she gave and asked for nothing in return, my life changed.
I heard how she paid for the school fees of kids that we didn’t even know. We heard how she would send food and clothing to places we had never even been to. We were told how she would treat illness free of any charge. We heard how she saved lives and how she changed destinies.
I saw my my mum differently. I saw her through the eyes of different people.
Many things clicked for me that day. A lot of things suddenly made sense.
That day I took the decision that even with the pain of losing her, the grief that overwhelmed me, I would celebrate my Mum, the life she lived, what she gave and who she was.