By Sufuyan Ojeifo
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” -Thomas Campbell
The title of the newspaper advertisement, announcing the funeral of the first wife of former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, simply read: “Our matriarch transits”.
Undeniably, the title captured and still posthumously captures the quintessence of humanity and motherliness of Dame Patricia Anenih, a Knight of Saint Sylvester (KSS), who went to be with the Lord on the Resurrection Morning of Sunday, April 16, this year.
Dame Patricia Anenih, who passed on at age 75, lives in hearts she has left behind with consolatory expectations of a sweet reunion on the ultimate resurrection day.
Meanwhile, we agonise and wax poetic in sadness with the eternal lines of Edgar Allan Poe coming to mind in much bolder relief: “The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.”
Dame Patricia Anenih was a beautiful woman. She had a beautiful heart, an inimitably humble nature, which manifested expressively in her inter-personal relationships with all who crossed her paths in life.
Firmly in charge of the home front, the matriarch of the Anenih family had her peculiar ways of assuring and reassuring visitors to the house that they were welcome. If you looked into the dining area where she always sat superintending over the wellbeing of family members, she would, in her gentle voice, ask after your family and would always invite you to the table to eat something.
Dame Patricia Anenih was very motherly. She was very caring. She was very accommodating. All these great virtues and much more found vast expressions in her while she lived. Humanity resided in her. She thus lived out the timeless words of Norman Cousins: “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
Nothing great, including motherliness, compassionate care and accommodation, et al, died in her while alive. It is against this backdrop that we should relate with her death as a necessary gateway to paradise where rewards for good deeds are accessed.
In spite of this, “the death of a beloved is an amputation,” according to C.S. Lewis in ‘A Grief Observed’. There is no doubt: Dame Patricia Anenih will be sorely missed! An immensely good woman has gone home to rest.
Family friends and political associates of Chief Tony Anenih have continued to commiserate with him over the transition of his friend of over 50 years. A void has been left behind- the ugly side of apartness. While it looks strange to celebrate this separation; it is culturally the best way to demonstrate affection.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, in their empathy, wrote: “The death of our mother was a very sad event. She was a mother very dear to all-lovely, peaceful and very motherly. Her demise is painful to all especially the immediate family. May her soul rest in peace.”
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun penned these lines: “Words are inadequate to describe the sadness that we feel and the sympathy we have. But our good God in His inimitable ways will bring solace to the Anenih family and give them the courage to pass through these trying times. Amen.”
Chairman of CMES OMS JV Limited, business mogul and 2016 recipient of Vanguard Businessman of the year award, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo affirmed: “Mummy, you were, indeed, a mummy to all of us. May your gentle soul rest in perfect peace,” while his business partner, Dr Olatunde Ayeni declared: “Mummy, you lived a beautiful life. We love you but God loves you more. Sleep well in the Lord. Amen.”
Chief Charles Edosomwan (SAN) captured more succinctly Dame Patricia Anenih’s essence: “Mummy was a beautiful, serene Esan woman, a virtuous Edo woman whose high standing in society never dimmed her humility. She was always welcoming to me and all of us she saw as her children’s friends. I will miss her smile and kindheartedness.”
According to Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), “You lived a purposeful, programmatic, dedicated, eventful and successful life. May God grant your elegant, lovely soul eternal rest.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara wrote in the condolence register: “On behalf of the entire members of the House of Representatives, I offer our sincere heartfelt condolences over the death of a beloved wife, mother, sister, and community mobiliser. We love you but God loves you the most. We will continue to see you in the works you did while alive and the hearts you touched….”
Professor Jerry Gana and his wife, Lucy, posited: “A truly worthy mother of great distinction. Mama lived a life of honour, integrity, and great love for God and humanity. She was clearly a role model for all mothers….”
Chairman of DAAR Communications, Chief Alegho Raymond Dokpesi, declared: “Mama’s passage to the greater glory came as a very rude shock. We take joy that she lived a very exemplary life and contributed to the uplift of humanity. Mama, rest in perfect peace.”
Senator Matthew Uroghide and his wife wrote: “Mama, may your very gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord in eternity. May God Almighty grant daddy the grace to bear the huge loss and void that your painful exit has created. We all miss you….”
Many more beautiful lines came from the hearts and pens of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Modu Ali Sherrif, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Senator Solomon Ewuga, Senator Nenadi Usman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Senator Bode Olajumoke, Senator Ehigie Uzamere, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Dr Musa Babayo, Chief Onyeama Ugochukwu, Mr Labaran Maku, Dr Steve Oru, Mr Kenneth Imansuangbon, Mr Gaius Jackson Obaseki, Hon Awwal Tukur, Barrister Gentleman Amegor, Ambassador Kema Chikwe, Chief Olisa Metuh and a host of others.
Dame Patricia Anenih, no doubt, heeded the admonition of Shannon L. Alder, in these inimitable lines: “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
As her remains are interred today, Saturday, May 27, 2017 in Uromi, her memories will certainly not be interred with her. They will live in the hearts of those she has left behind. Goodbye to a good mother with a heart of gold.
• Mr Ojeifo sent this tribute from Abuja via [email protected]