Just like the caption demanded, go ahead and show heart-felt gratitude to someone else now before it gets late. A lot of people are still in regret for non-expression of appreciation or recognition of good qualities enjoyed somewhere in the journey of life.
For the fact that one, perhaps out of ignorance, carelessness or tight and busy schedule, did not show appreciation, the realisation of what was not done on time before death occurs, will become a burden on the person.
It has been the practice to extoll the virtues of loved ones, who departed without having had the opportunity to hear the warm words before death occurred. Instead of waiting forever or living in denial, to appreciate someone who has done you good, I charge you today to go ahead and make that fellow know about your sincere appreciation of the good gesture done to you by that person. It could be people who you squatted with before life smiled on you; it could be a word of advice or someone who clothed you when you lacked. It could be someone who helped with water in the hospital. Every appreciation must not be measured in monetary terms. Little deeds could make a difference in one’s life. What about people who helped you discover your talent, introduction to a new business idea, marriage introduction, addition to school fees? What about teachers who corrected you while going astray etc. It could be anything very insignificant, yet it added value to one’s life.
Interestingly, expression of gratitude remains a balm that heals wounds, bonds people together, allows peace to reign, unites and extols love. There has never been a situation where gratitude turned sour or tore people apart. Never. Instead ingratitude destroys relationships further.
Take the case of Stella (not her real name), who has been in pain and deep regret since the passage of Mrs. Chike, the mother of her schoolmate and close friend, Chinwe. Mrs. Chike was a teacher and mother to all her children’s friends. When the three children of Mrs. Chike were undergraduates in University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, each of them always came home with at least four friends. Mr. and Mrs. Chike became foster parents to their children’s friends. Their home provided shelter, food and in some cases financial support for the other children, whose parents were not resident in Port Harcourt. Yes, in as much as there was that long queue of ‘Thank you, Ma’ coming from almost 12-15 young adults who this family fed intermittently from most Fridays through Sunday evenings and long public holidays. This was a continuous practice and a phase of life Mrs. Chike found herself in and accepted with all honesty.
She never grumbled about the situation for years until her children and their friends started graduating from the university and leaving the country for greener pastures. Stella said Mrs. Chike deserved an honorary award from all of them who ate from her kitchen for several years. Apart from the food, it was also a home for protection, character formation and capacity building. We learnt from the story that it is not only blood relatives that are destiny helpers.
Stella said: “I regret not telling her she was my second mother when I saw her in the United States on one of my visits to her daughter’s house as we maintained relationship over the years. I did not do that and now that she passed on, at over 80, all of us are crying because somehow, we failed to recognize her ‘mother hen nature’ which shielded all of us then. The money we are contributing now to wear the best of asoebi which will just add colour to her funeral is what we should have been giving her in trickles in appreciation; even though she did not lack anything. All of us, her foster children, have been downcast and depressed because we did not show appreciation to our second mother while she was alive. She will never recognise all the elaborate plans we are making now to her a befitting burial.
Now consider late Mr. Christospher Oparaochaekwe, who was a very smart man. He was of average height, highly intelligent and at one time, and for many years the seasoned postmaster at defunct post office. Later he went for further studies and graduated as a Mathematics teacher, going on to become a school principal before he died. While he served as post master in the 80’s and 90’s. That era witnessed the use of oversea airmail. At that time when an acknowledgment card or admission letter from a university arrived at the post office, Oparaochaekwe, a very sincere man, would pick up the sensitive documents and deliver them to one’s door step himself. He could walk into eight to 10 compounds in the village, delivering important documents, letters and parcels to various families. Delivering such sensitive mail was responsibility he would never delegate to another person. He would rather do it himself to be sure and happy. He made sure fathers received the admission letters of their son’s or daughter’s.
He was so dedicated to the job that he was given an affectionate nickname ‘Chri-post Office’ because he would not tamper with sensitive letters and parcels, would not destroy them out of envy, would jealously guard such high-profile packages. Back then, one decipher see that the content of the package was very important from reading what was printed on the package: Strictly Confidential.
During his funeral many of the graduates whose university admission letters he delivered cried their hearts out. “If I had known, I would have come to appreciate him,” said Ibezim, an engineer, adding, “I recall how delighted I was the day he brought my admission letter to my father. That brown envelop carried the logo of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The moment he brought that good news to my father, the atmosphere changed, laughter and good commending words came out from my father’s mouth. Even as a qualified engineer, I did not appreciate that letter he came to deliver himself until he passed away.” The postmaster died after a long battle with cancer and most of the people he delivered their important personal letters remembered his honesty and integrity in handling sensitive documents that arrived at the post office.
Mrs. Patience Chizu, a chartered accountant was the girl who saw tomorrow. She was one of those who struggled in life to get to the top. Back in her university days, young Patience was introduced to Mr. Opara, a faculty officer who became her father figure and a big brother in school. Whatever financial support she needed as a student, Mr. Opara stood by her in all honesty. Through combined support of her siblings and Mr. Opara, Patience pulled through and graduated. With time, life smiled well at her. She continued to pursue her career until she became a chartered accountant and was made Head of Finance in her establishment. On a certain day, after many years, Mrs. Chizu opened up to her husband to join her to thank Mr. Opara who never took advantage of her frequent visit for financial support to abuse her. She said, “Mr. Opara was not a saint, but he never took advantage of my regular visit for financial help to abuse me. I was really surprised that he did not, given that I was not his relative; instead, he saw me as his little biological sister. What kept running through my mind as a grown woman now is, if he had made passes at me, what would have been my response? My rejection of his advances would have jeopardized my financial situation. Instead God used him as one of my ladders to climb in life. Mrs. Chizu made that visit a very big deal. She invited a few friends and surprised Mr. Opara and his family on his birthday. He had retired by then. In her remarks, she drew tears from the gathering of his kinsmen and Chizu’s friends. She openly appreciated Mr. Opara to the admiration of all. They ate, drank and thanked God.
Now, it is a very common practice for people to retain and quickly recall memories of wrongs done to them by others. But the message today is for all to find that little opportunity and appreciate others. Human relationship takes a lot of maturity to be sustained. Some relationships have left bitter tastes that only God can heal. To people who will never appreciate any good done to them no matter the effort, remember just one good thing done to and be grateful for.
Dear Nigerians, please acknowledge just one night you rested your head in another person’s house; that meal that was not sumptuous but satisfied you, that trade you learnt from a wicked master, that cunning pastor that led you to Christ, that one person who held your hand when you needed it etc. It must not be with fanfare but a kind word. Just saying, ‘Congratulation, keep it up’, well done, thank you, and ‘I am proud of you’ will work wonders in the heart of the person appreciated. Whatever expression of appreciation, say it out now, no matter how little; please appreciate whoever does well. Single out the good one from among the hundred negative others and celebrate that one good one. Do not wait till the burial day to appreciate someone. Expressing appreciation now will lead to longlasting happiness. God bless you.