Last week, on Tuesday morning, my grandmother, Anna (it’s a no brainer where I get this lovely name) passed on at the tender age of 94. I say tender because I realise that when you lose someone, even when they are 238 years old, you feel like you still need them around like 238 that’s not enough time. She was frail and wasn’t speaking at the time of her death. It was also my mother’s birthday, so as you can imagine, my initial response to the news amidst research I was doing at work was that she had gone to turn up with my mother and my granddad.
Because that is how I react to death.
I am known to be the strange one with a litany of jokes at vigils because maybe I lack the social graces for such a time. Yes, I was sad. I did have a good cry in the cab back home that morning- I mean…it was my last grandparent. She had such a beautiful heart and great cooking skills. My grandmother made the best fish stew in the land. Some people say its because she used firewood. I don’t care about the specifics. The truth is village meals are just too great. I mean, people here want to put 300 spices, vanilla essence and meat tenderiser in the beans and have the nerve to bring the hot spatula to your mouth to taste and ask if they should add something else. In the village? Just put some salt, tomatoes and onions and go away.
My grandmother was almost too nice. My mother and her sisters said she never beat them when they were little. Now I’m sitting here trying to understand where my own mother picked that bad behaviour from because I really did get my fair share of spankings with the Umoja slippers and those things hurt like hell. I advise you to watch out for the people you hang out with because that is the only answer I have right now. It was probably peer pressure. She always asked about ow’erinya meaning me, the namesake, whenever someone would visit her and I always felt the need to get her blessing before we left-like actually bow down and have her place her hands on my head and ask for a blessing. I don’t know, man– I feel like those blessings went a long way for me.
We were from different times but every time she asked me to bring that purple mat to sit under the avocado tree, I knew the best conversations were yet to happen. From her take on modern family planning, to accounting for my spirituality to “abantu b’eKampala” and how crafty they can be, to what my mom and her siblings were like, to sitting in silence and enjoying the clean Bukomansimbi air.
My mother, Vincentia a.k.a Vincey aka Mama Vi was the last born at home. Something we both have in common. She had such beautiful hair- something we also share and was always the one her siblings went to when arguments needed to be settled. She was a banker, so she handled her money carefully-my brother, Michael gets that from her. I am more of my father’s daughter in that area. She was strict as she needed to be and when adolescence set in and my dad was getting sick and tired of hormones and unAfrican behaviour, a simple call would do the trick. Whether you were in Gabs putting the feet on the table being a wildling or in your bed feigning an illness under research-her phone call would set you straight. That little cockroach in your head would be kept at bay. Instantly! That was my mother.
As my brother and I grew older, she became our BFF. Sometimes our conversation were insane but they also needed to happen. She wasn’t policing us anymore because it was just not in order to be out of order. It was easier to tell her about problems most kids our age would never even begin telling their parents about. She was also very hardworking and sometimes I think that’s what killed her. She worked a lot but that did not stop her from having time for my brother and I, her siblings, her parents, her nieces and nephews, God and a good laugh. Yeah, my mother and her sisters had way too many inside jokes and they’d laugh for days. seeing them laugh would make us laugh.
I have been going through old pictures with my Godmother. I can’t find a picture with my grandparents and I. My brother says that was my punishment for being naughty (I’m sorry I couldn’t find a better word in case you were busy wandering in the gutter). I was never naughty so I really don’t know what that’s about. But I did find this picture of my mother, my brother on his 3rd birthday before anyone dreamed of my existence and my grandmother and I love it.
I am forever grateful to God that I was loved by the best and that they left me in good hands with my Godmother, my mother’s sister, Dolores, who I can’t even call an aunt because she is the sweetie that is doing the amazing job of being my mother now.
Rest in peace, my Queens.
Make sure you tell those lovely maternal figures in your life today how much you love and appreciate them.