“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.” ~ N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

This year I decided not to acknowledge the day you died. I have allowed that date way too much power. Instead, I acknowledge and celebrate your birth and life. I celebrate the time I got to spend with you. I celebrate the birthdays, the holidays, the ordinary days, the days you embarrassed me in public, the days you gave me a hiding punished me for misbehaving and the memory of being loved by you.

As I waltz down memory lane with you, I remember one small creepy fact…every other year I would say happy birthday to you too early. In fact, I would say it on the 21st of November. Somewhere in the churning engine of my mind, the fact that your birthday was the 27th not 21st could not be processed well into high school. It was something we both accepted. I could get an A in Math but I couldn’t get my mum’s birthday right smh. Each time, I stood in that long line to use the phone booth at my boarding school just to call and say happy birthday on the 21st, you would chuckle as say, “Ah mwanangu (my child), my birthday is next week.” and then we would laugh and have whatever catch-up the coins I had would allow. Can you imagine how weird it is for me that you died on the 21st of November?

Creepy memories aside….

Even though you came to every prize giving day, I remember one particular prize giving day in primary school. On this particular occasion I had come first. As I waited for them to call my name I could see you sitting at the very back of the hall giving no indication that you had secret plans. My name was called and the other parents clapped as normal folks do as I walked across the stage. Not you. As soon as you heard my name you jumped up, ankara wrap in hand, and worked your way into the wide passage and then proceeded to catch the entire hall, including me, off guard. You ululated and danced all the way to the front of the hall naija movie style AND in-between all of that, you still managed to shout “mwana wangu iyeye (that’s my child), haaadye chimwe chinhu (she doesn’t eat anything else)…kunze kwemabhuku (but her books)!!! All the while waving your wrap all over the show lol! If embarrassment could kill, I would have died right there. They haven’t made a gif that can capture the essence of an African woman celebrating just yet.

For a whole month I couldn’t even buy bread from the supermarket without a random person going “mwana wangu iyeye” and chuckling lol. The joys of living in a small town!

I remember my 18th birthday. You showed up at school and got the entire A Level stream to sing happy birthday to me while I prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me whole. (there’s a theme here mum). You bought me a 3D glass desk watch with a butterfly that rotated in time with the second hand of the clock. I still have it. It doesn’t work but I have it.

I remember the effort you put into Christmas especially when we were younger. No matter how much I tried, I could never catch you sneaking gifts into our beds late at night on Christmas eve. I remember searching high and low for the piggy bank I had asked for for Christmas one time. i couldn’t find it anywhere. It was afternoon on the 24th and I was very concerned. So I worked up my courage and came to you and said, “mhamha, I just wanted to remind you not to forget to buy Christmas presents. The shops will close soon.” Man! You were annoyed lol. I think you pinched me and told me gifts are not a guarantee. Lo and behold, when I opened my eyes the very next day, there was a piggy bank shaped gift right next to my pillow!

I remember crying my heart out while you held me when I discovered my ex boyfriend was cheating on me. AND then I remember calling to tell you he had asked for forgiveness and I was considering taking him back. You fired back, “absolutely not. He has made us cry enough. He will never change.” followed by some pretty strong language *chuckles*…when a mother fears for her puppy.

I remember your smile and how it hugged me.

I could go on forever. I have many many memories of you mum. It is a blessing to have had the opportunity to make them. I admit that it breaks my heart that you were not around to see me make it in life. You would probably laugh at the fact that grown men who are generally twice my size report to me at work. You made me mhamha and then I made it. I guess the right way to put it is #mamawemadeit

I also desperately wish you had been around to meet the man I am going to marry. You would have loved him and him you. His ridiculously big and warm family would have embraced you as they do me. Not to mention the fact that you would have been beside yourself with the excitement of planning the wedding 🙂 . Be that as it may, I trust that wherever your soul is, you are happy and at peace. We are doing ok. You armed us to survive and we have done more than just that. We are living and it’s all thanks to you.

“My mother taught me about the power of inspiration and courage, and she did it with a strength and a passion that I wish could be bottled.” ~ Carly Fiorina

I miss you but I know you are the bones in my spine and the blood in my veins and I celebrate you as you were, as you are, as you always will be…My Mother.

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” ~ George Washington