Continued from last Monday
Talking about grief, everyone should know everyone is grieving or shall grieve at some point. Therefore, everyone should -necessarily- rally behind those grieving. Grief is a human constant the same way death is human nature. Grief is a loss response.
Nobody should downplay the death of another’s loved one (be it a child, a parent, a spouse or any of sundry relatives) no matter how much they thought the deceased was old, unknown, insignificant, useless or best dead. I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way. I would have thought that my mother, Deaconess (Mrs.) Paulina Michael Effiong, after a decade of separation, would pay scant attention to the funeral of the man I thought treated her poorly. Rather, before, during and after the burial, she has continued to occupy pride of place in showing concern, spending her own resources and generally ensuring everything about my father’s memory is beautifully done. Nothing and nobody has better lightened my grief!
I didn’t cry when my dad died. That fateful 4th July this year when my sister, Mrs. Theresa Aniekan, called to break the news, I just sat on my Uyo bed and stared into space. Memories might be nothing for the living to take to the bank but the dead can give everything to live again just to recreate them. What memories of your father or mother or brother or sister or such other dead relative do you have?
Dwell on yours instead of craving to read mine. Some memories are sweet, others are bitter. The former zhoosh up grief, the latter exacerbate things. Whatever, it is the bereaved who must bear the brunt of dealing with the grief, which no matter the sweet memories still remains grief.
I shall return to that, presently. Meanwhile, let’s take up the unfinished business of penultimate paragraph. In the build-up to the burial and eversince, I have caught myself shedding tears too often over my father. Blame it all on my mother.
She calls me up an average of ten times per day. Before and after my father’s burial, nine of those telephone conversations were and still are about my father: how this or that ought to be done; everything targeted at protecting the man and his name. Because I know down to the nitty-gritty of what she went through in his hands and in the hands of his family, I always break down after speaking with her; such that now I try to skip her calls. Alas, my mother’s is the way to go if one must survive grief and intact.
Her approach has provided me quick closure. It has also reminded me of something profound: namely, to remain my good self in spite of and despite the beneficiary. This has helped my personal multi-dimensional grief to heal in no small way. I shall forever be thankful to my mother who with absolutely no education whatsoever has taught me an unforgettable lesson on how to be a human being.
To be sure, my father was a good man, an excellently good man, whose only undoing was -I think- what I call family mistake. I say that not in judgment but so I can myself learn too. Men -and women as well- must strive to insulate their family with everything even to own detriment. A husband and his wife have no point to prove to each other.
Apart from my mother, may I seek your indulgence to share briefly about others who have unconsciously been fab and should serve as a lesson here and there? First, the Udo Ekpenyong family of Ikot Oku Osung, a village in Ukanafun local government area of Akwa Ibom State. Their academic doctor scion, who unfortunately hardly wants even positive publicity, was in a class of his own throughout. He would call, he would inquire, he would visit, he would give, he would suggest.
Apart from UfanBUSH whom I shall discuss next, no other family friend of ours did what Dr F. did. He was rampant and ubiquitous and versatile with his love and support to me, drawing from his experience (having only lost his own dad last year) and knowledge of God. Then his deftest move: when I sent out preliminary invitation, you know the soft copy, he called to ask if I really felt he needed that. I shall never forget that seeming nothing, because here was someone doing everything in support playing down a notice of invitation over which others who offered nothing were bitter with me!
In fact, one big man was angry that I sent him that preliminary notice; that I ought to have brought it by hand. Pray, how do you present soft copy physically to Nigerian big men? See why I’d rather now focus on a different kind of big person; a big woman: Pastor (Mrs.) Mercy Edet (UfanBUSH)? What a friend. Everyone should have own UfanBUSH: ever-altruistic, ever-present, ever-giving.
Enter the special men in my life. Global Ba’aba, Dr Abel Damina, my spiritual father leads the pack -for good measure. His grand entry into the burial ground, after everything else he had done, is the very proof that the Power City International iconic teacher of the bible understands that loyalty is a dual carriageway, not one way traffic. Then there’s Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN who not only mobilised my in-laws to support us financially but also physically.
The man fondly called teacher by his teeming products and students is truly that. He led the men of Robert Ojukwu Ikeanyionwu family of Ahaba Imenyi in Isuikwuato local government area of Abia state (Barr. Chudi and Engineer Enyioma) complete with their sister, Odi, and her husband, Barr. Innocent Lagi, former Attorney General, Nasarawa state) to Akwa Ibom in good time and for some days. He took some omissions and mistakes on my part like the leader and grandfather he is. We remain eternally indebted and appreciative.
Next is Etim Ibibio who has, unknown to him, redefined fatherhood for me. He was there all the way with his graceful beauty of a wife, Mummy Nelly. Those moments they both spent with me while we waited for the event to start and the things they said coupled with how they said them shall play in my mind for life. To find out who Etim Ibibio is as well as for more on the other men (Dr Martin Akpan, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, Rt Hon. (Barr.) Useneobong Akpabio, Dr Essien Ukpe, Dr Anietie Ukpe, Prof. Mbuk Mboho, Prof. Peter Esuh, Rt Hon. Itoro Columba, Rt Hon. Iniobong Robson, Mr Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Surveyor (Hon.) Iniobong Ekpenyong, Hon. Uduak Ibanga Akpabio, Rev. Father Anthony Umoh, Mr Mfon Umoren, Obong Iyamba, Southampton, UK-based Pius James Ekpenyong, Texas, USA-based Peter Mosua Lobe, my Cameroonian mentee, et al) and of course about Maryland, USA-based FF, Barr. (Mrs.) Ukpeme Okon not forgetting the Mojimas -especially 14-year-old Emem- let’s continue this on Monday, please!
•To be concluded next Monday
So, graduating second class lower is death sentence? (2)
The teaser on this last Monday drew quite some traffic. See, many third class graduates have gone ahead to strike gold while some first classers have yet found their feet or bearing. Aim for first class per time but deploy what you get.
Don’t sit there, whining. Life wants you to prove that although you graduated inferior you can play superior. That’s why most third class and second class lower graduates occupy top positions of society and are doing great stuff while a majority of their first class colleagues either work under them or are nowhere to be found!
•To be concluded next Monday