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Geraldine Ogwe: Things I Learned From Patricia

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Patricia is not my daughter nor my sister. Patricia was my mother. My biological mother. The very woman that nurtured me from the cradle. My self-effacing mother. The wife of my father.

My mother was born into a large monogamous family. She had about nine siblings (dead and alive). She had seven of us – with me as the sixth but the last girl. My mother and I shared striking resemblances. It was easy for people who knew her to know that I am her child. I inherited her height boldness, gait, beauty and the never-give-up-until-success-is-achieved attitude to life. These endeared me to her. I was her favourite; though, she had four favourite children.

The mother I knew was a go-getter. She was a jack of all trades and master of all. In the early 80s my mother sold garri. She went to Teachers’ Training Institute. She didn’t want the Teachers reward in heaven, so she left teaching for business. She attended a catering school to learn to cook and bake all sorts of food. She would bake wedding and birthday cakes for friends and families. She had a restaurant, from there, she delved into poultry business. There was nothing she didn’t want to try. She preferred her own money. She would tell me, “ it is only your own money that you don’t need to beg for. Even if somebody owed you, you have the right to harass the person to pay up, but if you keep depending on people to foot your bills, what happens when they can’t do that anymore?”

She was a go-getter but she was a keeper too. She gave us what we needed and not what we wanted. The only times we had what we wanted was in food, not in other areas of life. She didn’t believe in wasting money. It was that spirit that made her utilize the extra acre of land we had vacant for farming. She planted her own vegetables. She taught my siblings and I how to farm. We had a healthy competition of whose crop will grow better and finer. Nnenna, my elder sister once planted Pawpaw which grew in height but not in fruits. Not one single fruit on it after its natural time to produce fruits. Our gardener told my mother to cut down the tree that it was useless and occupying space. My mother refused. She believed that the tree would yield fruits someday. Severally, she was tempted to cut down the tree but she kept faith and two years after, I called her attention to the tree. It had finally yielded fruit. When Nnenna came back from school, my mother gave her the honour of plucking the fruit. That was the sweetest Pawpaw I ate in my life. It was then that my mother told us that not all hopeless situations are hopeless. She taught us that with love, patience and kind words,human beings just like that Pawpaw tree, would yield their good fruits. We learnt not to be quick to judge or conclude a matter.

Patricia loved her children. She loved joking with us. Whenever I called her Patricia, she would laugh and say “nwatakiri a, o nne gi ka ina akpo aha ya” (this girl, is it your mother that you call by her name?). I would tell her that Oyibo people call their parents by their names. It usually ended in a comic relief. I noticed that my mother loved me in a unique way. She said I brought her good luck. She would tell me that she would bake my wedding cake and come to live with me when I marry and I am seven months pregnant. She said the joy would not allow her to wait till I deliver. My mother would never kill me in a game of Ludo. When playing with her, I would say, “Mum, if you played this way, you would have killed me and won”. She would reply, “mbanu, how would I kill my baby?” I would sigh and tell her she was not a challenge and she made the game boring. She would beg me and we would continue with the same mentality of hers. I always won. It made her happy.
Patricia

Fastforward to year 2005, my mother, the amazon of my life and the matriarch of the family was struck down by an unknown ailment. We battled to save her life. I was an undergraduate with no source of income. I could not contribute financially. Pastors prayed, doctors worked, traditional medicine men came too and none could bring restoration. We fasted and waited on the Lord, nothing. We diversified. Each sibling went to a different church, to pull their strong men of faith to heal Patricia, nothing. We converged and went to a particular man of God to join faith with us, nothing. Healing was in percentages but never a 100%. It keeps tilting and she was suffering.

In all these trials, she kept holding on and fighting for her life. She was bedridden when four of my siblings went for their National Youth Service Corps. When they came back, she would select each of their pictures that she preferred and gave to a photographer to make in a frame. She kept the pictures in frames by her side. When visitors came, she would say, “my daughter( or son) is now a graduate. Rejoice with me”. When it got to my turn, her condition was worse. She was not only bedridden but also blind and she could not even recognize my voice. She told me she could not remember having me as a child. I wept profusely. My picture was never going to be in a frame. How could she not remember her Geraldine, her Ludo co-player.

My mum passed away on 18th August, 2009. I was still single. Who would nurture me during pregnancy? I still remember her and all the good times we shared together. I don’t remember my mother teaching me how to read and write but she taught me a lot of things that have helped me to become the woman I am. No academic teacher could equal that.

I miss you mum. Keep resting in peace and if there be a reincarnation, please come back as my daughter.

37 Comments

  1. ice

    August 18, 2014 at 11:10 am

    So touching,the words captured the personality’patricia’

  2. naana

    August 18, 2014 at 11:11 am

    love my parents too and give them the best i have since they are alive.
    love you mom.
    pray you give your kids something to remember.

  3. Fume

    August 18, 2014 at 11:16 am

    lovely write-up, may she continue to rest

  4. Peace

    August 18, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Patricia she is gone but she made you a strong woman may God bless her soul.

  5. Peace

    August 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Sorry i mean Geraldine

  6. Gistyinka Blog

    August 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Hmmm RIP to her, lovely and well written article. I learn from your piece — with love, patience and kind words,human beings just like that Pawpaw tree, would yield their good fruits.

  7. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    August 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Hold on to the memories. No one can take that away from you.

  8. Lily

    August 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Sweet memories of your mum, my mum also promised me so much before I got married thank God she witnessed my marriage but at 36 weeks of pregnancy she passed on. The worst thing that happened to me, but thank God today anyone who sees my daughter says my mum is back. she is a complete replica of my mum and even has the same birth mark. The memories can never be forgotten

  9. MJ

    August 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Hug from me to you Geraldine. I wish I could write so well about Maa.. Each time I start I fall into some sort of depression. Even now, my heart feels heavy.

  10. megal

    August 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Very touching piece. i want to be able to write inspiring pieces like this someday. hold on to all the beautiful memories you have of your mum because they are to make you a great mum to your kids and others too.

  11. Anon

    August 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Geraldine I wept when i read towards the end.

  12. yemisi

    August 18, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    OMG i so love this article. I love my mum die ohhhhhhhhhhh, i dont even know what to say i just love her tooo much and i pray the good Lord keep and preserve her life.

  13. fleur

    August 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Sorry for your loss. Clearly she lives on in the great memories she created for you. So what was her ailment?? I hate to hear of people suffering for so long and they say the ailment was mysterious because our med system is bad. Her death should bring light to her plight.

  14. Fina

    August 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This part right here “she told me she could not remember having me as a child” brought me to tears..so sorry for your loss..may her soul continue to rest in peace.

  15. Sugar

    August 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Sure she’s very proud of you, though you might not see her physically but she’ll always be felt through the life she gave you and the legacy she left behind. hugs!

  16. Msblossom

    August 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I was giggling in my chair and almost burst out with laughter at this line “Pawpaw which grew in height but not in fruits” that was funny , and only to get to the end of this piece to find it ended sadly. Knowing that i celebrate my dad’s birthday today, wow! only makes me cherish him more. Be stronger “G” as i can c u are already doing fine. your mum taught you well.. Reminds me of my mum too, she’s a strong woman keeping her family together in prayers and nurturing…

    God bless you Geraldine.

  17. TANTRA

    August 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    May God bless all of you for your kind words. Fina, you couldn’t imagine the pain of one’s mother not remembering her.

  18. ebony87

    August 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Geraldine, this is the first time i’m reading your write up and i must say, i am so touched. You made me cry. I can feel the love you have for your late mum even from a great distance. Wish i could hug you but i can tell you this, your mum did a mighty fine job with you. God rest her soul.

  19. @edDREAMZ

    August 18, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    Lovely post no doubt….
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  20. Adaeze Writes

    August 18, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Awwww….her soul is in God’s bosom now and be rest assured that she’s praying for you and she is super proud of who you have become.

  21. leo

    August 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    U just made my cry at work.
    God rest her soul.

  22. Mz Socially Awkward...

    August 18, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Geraldine, what a lovely ode to your mother. It must have been so difficult to try and limit the fullness of who she was into these few paragraphs – I read each line and kept wanting to know more about this woman because she sounded amazing. You’re a very priviledged young lady to have come from stock like that and your sons and daughters will be too when you tell them of their antecedents.

    It was a great life to live as an enduring example for her children, I’m really sorry she’s not here any more. She was truly an amazon of a woman.

  23. Princess

    August 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Awwwwww so touching. Beautiful piece. Your dear mum is your guardian angel for sure……and yes she may come back as your daughter. Beautiful memories. Stay Strong dear

  24. tnx all d way!!!

    August 18, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Nice write up,so sorry for d losss!

  25. ezee

    August 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Amazing Piece!!!!!!

  26. Loulou

    August 18, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    U made me cry, and make me miss “Sumbo” my mother of inestimable value do much more! She was strong,selfless,beautiful in and out,a woman of virtue who never fell sick till cancer took her away in 2013! I am in tears as I write now cos sometimes I still wish it was just a bad dream! May Patricia and Sumbo and all beautiful mothers who have gone to be with the Lord RIP…

  27. NennyD

    August 19, 2014 at 4:06 am

    A very touching but inspiring life about your mum. Indirectly you inspired me with the story of that Paw-paw tree and her response at the end. May she keep on resting with God….Amen

  28. Amara

    August 19, 2014 at 8:37 am

    awww i could swear i started crying at the end….May Patricia’s soul rest in peace.
    You are a good daughter, im sure wherever she is she would be pleased.

  29. Anike

    August 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I wish i could write ds of mama,but i never knew her. she died 2years after i was born. i know her only through pictures. may her soul rest in peace. And may Mrs Patricia’s soul rest in peace too.

  30. Fite

    August 22, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Idk mine that much…..was 6 yrs when mine passed on. Would hv given anything to hv mine now. Thats why I hate mothers day……

  31. Amaka

    September 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I wept geraldine when i read this.I dont know what i would do if anything happened to my mother.I just dont know.May she rest in peace

  32. iba

    September 5, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Great, great story. God bless you Geraldine…

  33. Teri

    September 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I wept too

  34. nif

    September 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Goodness. Bless her soul. Bless all mothers. Bless you Geraldine

  35. chaz

    October 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Beautiful!

  36. wandy

    December 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Very touching. Mothers are wonderful. God bless my mama!

  37. amy

    December 10, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Oh Geraldine, U made me cry. May d good Lord comfort and console u n ur family member… Nne, ga nkeoma

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