I have been dreaming of your 60th birthday for like the last 7 years. As at your 50th, 10 years ago, I think it’s accurate to say I didn’t have any control over my life so I managed my expectations. Once I got a job and started making money I swore to throw you the biggest landmark birthday ever. It’ll be big and grand and you won’t even have to lift a finger. I’ll only invite people who love you deeply and whose lives you’ve touched, you’ll look around and cry tears of joy, because that’s what you do when you’re overwhelmed with joy. Then COVID – 19 happened. Let me TMI all over this post, since you’ve refused to write a biography.
See, you’ve been my pillar. For every single time I am down, you have been my lighthouse, my life bouy, never letting me get lost or drown. Every time I think about doing something to mysef that’ll make you cry, I just can’t do it. I picture your face and I never want to make it wrinkle. God knows it’s been wrinkled enough.
You’ve withstood all the curveballs life threw at you and you still stood tall. My mum, always smiling and always happy. You could literally walk into a wall and get hurt and still smile through the pain. You taught us so many values and above it all is strength, and kindness.
You’re like a light, never to be turned low or put out. Your fire rages quietly because your intention is never to burn, but to illuminate the path for those you love.
Without you being my mother I’ll be a soulless cold shell of a human. You are such a funny hearty woman, as a kid you’ll make me laugh all the time with the jokes you crack and stories you tell and sometimes you just do outright silly funny stuff!
I remember as a teenage girl I was just mad at you sha. You know, how teenage girls get with their mums with the “don’t control my life you woman” trajectory. I was like 4c-plus hair. So hard to handle, comb, brush, curl. Even hot iron didn’t get you anywhere with me. But you kept loving me. You taught me the values of hard work, not so much as the words you used but by your actions. On this teacher salary, you gave me so much, so so much, I could have legit passed as a senators child with my swags. You would stay up late, sometimes not sleep all night, baking cake, for parties, for supermarkets and filling stations to resell, just to get the mula. You’ll take catering jobs, oh you’re such an amazing cook! Mum, your face was always inside an oven, a charcoal stove, or a big ikoko irin. So so so so many burns on your hands from always being around fire. Just to give me, my sister and brother the best. I remember one catering job you did and one of the organizers came to start looking for extra packs of rice, accusing you of hiding their food. People come in all shapes and sizes of madness. In the middle of his thrashing around our catering tools, he splashed a drink on you. I remember the white dress you wore, it was so pretty and we had all commented on how lovely it was. So that day I became like a beast, I roared at him, I threatened to do him bodily harm. I was about 17, what you’ll consider skinny and the man would have snapped me in half if I tried. But I was ferocious and I was crying at the same time. He apologized and stepped back. You hugged me, gave me cold water to drink and told me to leave my battles to God.
You never made us feel like ingrates for those sacrifices. You would have liked us to behave more kindly, we should have, but turning to the rod to fix us was never really your go to. After tongue lashing us for effing up and making us cry hot tears of apology, then you’ll fill our stomach with food and love. My dad calls you “abimomajeun”. Meaning the parent who never eats. You will give up all of your food, all of the clothes on your back, to keep food in our stomachs.
I remember when we saw we couldn’t afford my school fees at that private Uni, you told me, “keep going baby, I’ll make it work”. I remember when you sold your car to pay my school fees that year. You gave up your one and only item of comfort that moved you around that dusty village, just so that I could keep studying the course of my dreams. I remember when I couldn’t do that anymore, you didn’t even bat an eyelid, you asked what I wanted to do, you stood by me while I changed the course of my life, never pushing too hard, just loving, and I was humbled.
I couldn’t imagine being recalcitrant anymore, by the time I was done with Uni. All I saw when I looked at you was love. What did I do to make you love me this much?. All I felt was regret for not building a better relationship with you, for not making you my friend as soon as I needed one. I saw the love you were capable of giving and I missed out on it for so many years. But you? Never stopping or resting, just always loving.
I saw how relieved you were when I was done with school. The last one has left the nest. When I wanted to do my masters, I knew I wouldn’t put you through it again. So, I digged deep into the money making and management skills I learnt from you. I made it work for us. You were so proud on my convocation, grabbing me and my sister to take pictures. Your two baby girls. Me I was being grunge and cool about it because one lecturer ruined my almost perfect CGPA target. You said I shouldn’t swear for him regardless and you made me feel okay.
When I started my entrepreneurial journey fresh, you called every week to ask if I was okay, if I needed money, or food or air. I told you not being in paid employment isn’t the same as not getting paid. You said okay, but “call me if you need anything”. I told you to use the money and buy fine clothes mummy. It’s been a while you spoilt yourself. Hahaha we finally convinced you to take yourself to Sweet sensation all by yourself, to take ice cream and eat fried rice. You’ll send us pictures of the fraud of their moimoi that doesn’t have full egg. Look at you, looking all good and eating fast food and not paying school fees anymore.
All the men I dated before I got married, you would whisper without words, “he’s not the one”. Of course my stubborn a*s, “I am a grown up and I can make my decisions myself”, never listened. And when I start crying you won’t say “but I told you so”. You’ll comfort me, check on me a thousand times a day.
When I “came home with Laolu” for your birthday some children’s day past, I saw how you both bonded. You beamed your light and love his way and you were proud of me for catching such a good young man. What can I say? Your prayers for sure!
On the day of my court wedding my dress I had picked out shrunk. Just kidding. My bust expanded. You weren’t comfortable with me exposing cleavage, lmao, you would have liked me to show a good impression to my in-laws and sturvs like that. I told you, my husband loves it like 50 times before you let me rest eventually. Until the dress couldn’t hold it anymore and the zip collapsed. You just took charge and sewed me back in ASAP! You didn’t gloat or let me have it. You just got to work and fixed my day. You kept fussing over me and treated me like I was the apple of your eye. You know till today, the 3 of us don’t know who is your favourite. You sort of just treat all of us specially.
All through to the wedding you stood by Laolu and I, showering us with EVERYTHING YOU HAD! I kept pleading with you, mummy you really don’t have to push to this limit, you said no, only the best for my daughter. I wanted was for you to bake my birthday cake and nothing more. It was a bit selfish considering how you’ll be stressed out for the preparations but, you’ve made the cake recipe for many many lasting marriages mummy. There is no wedding you made cake for, that their home isn’t filled with joy. Why will I miss out on that divinity!! I should have just made you wedding planner sef because, you did not sit in one place o. My planner, Lulu events, was wowed by your energy. You did not even care about sitting down to do make up those two days. My hall decorator, Queens decor, just kept singing your praises. One time someone tried to disrespect you, I was so angry for you, but you pulled me back again and told me, leave it to God. I remember when you collapsed in Balogun market while we were trying to pick out Aso ebi, and you spent 3 days in the hospital. This on top of wedding planning. Loool but you’re so so stubborn! After being discharged and conquering the mountain of medication, you still went back to that same market to shop, you tried looking for the shop you fainted in to say thank you. Only God can help us keep you, you strong, determined woman! All the love you have for my siblings and I, it is not because you’re a parent and you’re obligated. It is because you genuinely have a large, unending heart of love.
You’ve touched so many lives, you’ve put a smile on people’s faces. You’ve gone out of your way to make someone’s life better, you never stand by and watch injustice or unhappiness. Your job as a teacher was the perfect career and destiny for you. Always desiring to impart knowledge and nurture. And that’s what you did for a lot of your students. I see the way some random tall man or a woman pulling her two kids, kneel or prostrate to greet you with so much reverence. I always wonder what the story was behind that gratefulness I see in their eyes. But it’s just you being you. You never look for accolades or crave attention. You never boast or ask for anything in return.
Everyday I’m here away from you, I miss you. I miss all the random stuff you always got me. You’ll see a dress that fits me, buy. You’ll see a bathrobe, buy. Hairpin, buy. Handbag, underwear, rope sef, buy. You’ll say, “I saw this and thought you’ll like it”. It got to a point my sister and I would “seize” your money before you enter market so you won’t use everything to buy us something. We’ll tell you, buy for yourself woman! At my old age people will ask me where I got something from and I’ll smile and say “my mummy got it for me”. I miss all those random gifts, and I miss you.
Happy birthday Mummy. We love you. I want the whole world to know how I feel about you, today and now. Maybe we should have done 59th birthday for you if we could see this cover 19 future. I want everyone to join me to celebrate the Amazon that you are. I pray God helps me to keep bringing smiles to your face. You’re not kuku hard to please, one video call from me and Laolu and you’re blushing and smiling, happy and content. I hope I learn to call you more and check on you more, and love you more. You deserve all the good things of life and I pray my siblings and I get to give that to you. I can only use my words right now, and I hope they suffice. I can also use the army of friends I have.
Please, her number is 08052251661. If that one “is not going”, call 08135217578. You can also leave her a message. Also, today would have been her civl service retirement celebration!
Thank you as you make our day special. Kwaheri! Xx.