I am not usually one to weep over the dead. At a very young age I learned to accept that death is indeed the end of every creature, human and otherwise. I had learned how not to shed a tear, to nod in silent reflection on the lives of those lost. I had even imagined in my head that I could watch the life snuffed out of another and not flinch, heck, I was a boss in my mind; death could not move me. I had watched enough videos where people had their heads severed from their bodies (Thanks ISIS), I was ‘ready’ for death. Nothing prepared me for the shock and disbelief I felt when I was told you were gone though, I was totally unprepared.
As a child, you were the only Grandma I knew. Yes, you were not my maternal grandmother by blood (That’s Mama Warri) , but you had always been ‘Grandma’. I think I only knew your name was Chinyere when I was about 18 or so. Even then it was weird hearing anyone but gramps call you that. I remember all those times when gramps will say ‘Chi, what will these children to eat?’ whenever we came to visit, and you would prepare us something awesome. I think my love for Igbo meals must have been a direct result of having those sumptuous meals you always prepared. Only Grandma could make me drink milk, only Grandma could make me eat boiled beans (I hate beans). You were not my mother’s biological mother, but you were there. Grandma would always quarrel with gramps, ‘Andy, why you no tell Shully say make she tell Tunde sey I wan see am?’ Gramps and Grandma ould always wade in when there was any sort of trouble at home. I do not recall you ever being intrusive in any way, all you did was counsel with love, all you did was express genuine concern.
Ah, I remember dreading being reported by mom to you. Grandma would ask ‘Opeyemi, what is the problem? Why are you stressing your mother?’ and then she would listen to my side of the story (and sometimes) decide that I really was not the erring one. She never undermined mom’s authority though, she would counsel and douse tension. The last time I saw you was January 1st 2015, (I feel very awful about this) I kept trying to get away from you because you had already started asking when I would bring ‘HIM’ home. At first I thought you were joking, but then you kept on asking and asking. How could I tell you that your granddaughter had never had good luck with men and the chances of ever bringing ‘HIM’ home were really very slim? How could I tell you that I had lost hope in the idea of marriage and just wanted to live without being heartbroken. I remember that day as I was leaving you reminded me to return your pot which you had used to give us our own share of that year’s Apuru. I never got to return the pot. You said ‘Opeyemi make sure you come back and see me oh, we need to talk’. In my mind, I felt grandma was still going to be there next Jan 1st jare, so I would find a way to escape this husband gist then and run away for another full year.
Sigh, I am really sad that I will not get to run away from you this time. You chose to run away first. I knew I had made a huge mistake not coming to see you after your surgery in September. I kept saying I didn’t have enough money to visit yet. I kept saying I could not come empty handed yet. I was trying so hard to be an adult on many fronts, and somehow, I forgot you, you who helped me study twice out of the three times I had to sit for JAMB. You who called mom joyfully and told her you had seen my name on the merit list in Vanguard Newspaper. You who advised me to make sure I brought the family back together because you felt I was a sensible child. Funny thing is, grandma, my mom never really talked to me the way you did. You respected me as a young growing child who could think on her own. You encouraged me. Well, grandma now mom and sis talk well (I bet pride did not let mom tell you). It took me moving in with sis and putting my foot down for her to finally cave in. I really wish I could have gotten another chance to see you alive. Now that you are gone, I really do not know how to feel. I am writing this post because my heart has been heavy for days and it is not easing up. I have cried so hard, out loud and silently. I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that my Grandma will not be with us on Jan 1 2016. My grandma won’t be there to lead the prayer session. Who will prepare Apuru this Jan 1? Who will shout at everyone to do what they are meant to do? Who will call every grandchild and give them quality advice for the new year? Who will make sure Gramps has had his two slices of bread and coffee every morning now?
I really am not sure if putting up this post will really make me feel better. I keep thinking of how lonely my gramps must be. It must be sad to have lived your life with someone for so long and suddenly, they leave without warning. I think gramps must have thought he was going to leave first. I am not at peace with the fact that you had to leave the way you did. No goodbyes, nothing. I am not sure who to blame. The surgery had been successful, at least that is what mom told me. It had been two months to the time. Why did you have to go? Then again, I feel so ashamed because I did not do my part in giving you the support you needed to pull through. I know aunty junior must have tried, but I guess even she was feeling alone. But what could I do? I am trying so hard to ensure that so many lives linked to me don’t fall apart. I mean I am good with no one checking on me, but I really should have checked on you. I should have visited.
I should stop now. Death, you tried this one. You really did. I mean, I did not see this coming at all. You get A+ for the element of surprise. I need you to slow down with gramps though. Please don’t come for him yet. The economy is really tight and I really don’t know if I and my sister will be able to salvage my parent’s reputation if anything else goes awry. You remember you already did doubles in 2013 when you took Alhaja and Uncle T right? Please slow down on this one.
I hope my grandma is at peace now. I really hope all the good she did while she was here counts for something. Amen.