There was a thing about her, an aura if you like. When she smiled her deep, dark eyes twinkled. Her shoulders jerked up and down with every bellow of laughter. She was quick to plant kisses on my forehead and grab me fondly by the cheek. She was soft and her arms jiggled like jelly when she motioned. When she spoke her mind, never was she without kindness and grace. Her full hips swayed from side to side when she planted one foot in front of another. Her mind was set on who she was and I loved watching her.
Behind the twinkle in her eyes was the look of someone who knew life. She had endured heart-wrenching pain and knew numbing loss. She had been cherished and betrayed and knew the intricacies of living with and without.
She was my mother. She still is.
Her face was the first to greet my eyes and her skin, the first I pressed my cheek to. Never did I worry about being alone because mama always showed up.
When she worked in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, she carried on without looking to impress anyone. She treasured excellence and made it evident by the things she did. When the babies came along, she committed herself to ensuring they were sound.
She shared our beds in sickness, rising in the dark to peer at her young with concern written across her face. As a student, she roused me and stayed by my side while I studied through the night.
In success, she was overjoyed. In failure, her disappointment stung me. She asked her loved ones to “manage” the many gestures and gifts she gave. One look from her cut through nonsense and put the fear of God in us. Her work never went unnoticed. We saw every smile, watched every gesture, read every emotion, and looked on as she wiped sweat from her brow.
She selected the finest of men for a husband and did not relinquish who she was. Her sense of humor and litany of inside jokes glued the family together when life got hard. She shielded us from pain yet showed us the realities of life. Never did I see a person handle situations with dignity intact.
She taught by example, better than words ever could. Our joy is her joy. Our success, hers’. She was regarded as revolutionary by many, yet she made being revolutionary normal. She told the best stories, seamlessly fishing out those tucked away in her heart.
Thank you, mama, for giving me the chance to see true beauty blossom.
Papa, Nna, Tiny, and I hope you flourish forever.