Two days ago, I travelled about one hundred and forty Kilometers southwest of the capital, Kampala, to attend the funeral of the mother of one my friends. I made the effort to be there for him for I have experienced the pain and heartache of losing a parent. My friend had to travel from New York where he has lived and worked for forty years. Thankfully, he and his wife were last here to check on the mother in November last year. I shudder to imagine him receiving that crushing call announcing her death. He must have felt too devastated to think clearly and that journey must have grown longer than it normally is.
As his friends gathered for the funeral, I could not help but remember my best friend’s kindest gesture at my father’s funeral. She arranged to bring a tailor at our home to take our measurements for the traditional attires that the female family members were to wear at the funeral. The tailor also came with some samples of the materials stocked in her shop. My best friend never asked me-she just did it and it touched our hearts immensely.
I watched the friend from New York go through the journey of burying a parent and as tribute after tribute sang of his mother’s great love, affection, nurturing, kindness and commitment, I was once again reminded of my father’s funeral some years back. He was a good friend to me. I was happy to note that like my father, my friend’s mother had enjoyed responsible friendship with his son and other children. She had loved her children unconditionally, valued and cared for them. They all felt safe and at home under her care. As a responsible friend, she had ensured that she did not maim them. She loved and respected herself first then went out to do the same for her own children and all the children she taught as a trained teacher of her time. She set limits and boundaries to all of them; thus empowering them to be self-sufficient. By the time she died, my friend and his siblings were functioning well on their own.
She never lost herself as she met their needs since she had also set limits and boundaries on her own side and guarded them jealously. Like all good mothers who give without maiming and give without burning themselves out, she died radically thankful and celebrating her whole life. I have no doubt that her last prayer was: not ‘please’ but ‘thank you’ just like a guest thanks his host at the door.
My favourite author Kahlil Gibran(1883-1931), the Lebanese born American writer and philosopher distilled the significance of a mother down to this quote:
“The mother is everything – she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses a mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly.”
Sam, your mother was all this and much more. You will be able to move forward standing on what she left in you but not what she left for you. When everyone goes home and you are left alone in your thoughts, you will remember your mother as a blessing. She lives on in you and in all those who passed through her hands.
May God rest her soul in eternal peace.