By Francis Ottah Agbo
November 23, 2017, would ever remain the darkest day in my life. It was the day my dear mother, Madam Veronica Enayi Ottah, my hope, my all and all, passed to eternal glory. Yet, it was like a dream. Initially, I didn’t believe it because you were not sick! But it dawned on me that all was not well when the Yuletide passed and we never had our customary telephone conversation. News of her death was all over. Well-wishers and friends kept calling to condole with me. It was shocking and unbelievable! But as a believer, I was still hopeful she would be a beneficiary of the miracle of resurrection. How wrong I was!
Mama, but when I visited the mortuary, it finally dawned on me that you had transmogrified to the great beyond. It was your remains I saw, no longer the elegant, active, cheerful and welcoming mother that I knew. I greeted you severally without a response; without calling me those elegant pet names; without showering on me the usual accolades. Oh, Mama, you left your “dad” without saying goodbye!
I know the world is a stage and you came and played your part fantastically well. But, like the good Ode’a dancer that you were, you left the stage when the ovation was loudest for which I am devastated. That is the more reason why my siblings and I are in ever-flowing tears, that is why your friends from North to South are grieving, that is the reason the entire Ado Local Government is shut down in your honour!
But while we grieve on this side of the divide, in heaven, you are a “newborn.” The angels are already rejoicing and are very happy to have you in the bossom of the Lord. Yet, I can hardly talk about you in the past, Mama. Oh, death where is thy sting?
My family and I are in consolable. Mama, you were our comforter and the great counsellor. When I lost my triplets, you consoled me. You assured me that the God you served would restore them. Indeed, one year after, your prophesy came to pass. That was my quintessential mother, whom I sparingly call Enayi Ottah.
Mama, you are simply the best mother anybody could have, loving, selfless, godly, beautiful, disciplined, industrous and visionary. Though extremely caring, you never spared the rod to spoil us. You sacrificed your all to train all your children. I am the greatest beneficiary of your love and labour. From farming and the proceeds of gari and orange business, you single-handedly saw me through school, taught me the principles of life and how to pass through the fire of life without being burnt!
It was for these reasons that we had planned to celebrate you as we marked your 70th birthday in 2017 in grand style. We had slated it for December, 2017 to create opportunity for friends and relatives to join us.
Now that you should be enjoying the fruit of your labour, death came knocking at your door! Why did you open the door without a fight, Mama? Why did you go the way of all mortals, without giving me notice? Mama, it was not your fault though, for I know you couldn’t have passed without putting up a fight; you only bowed to the supreme command of your maker!
But now that you are resting with your creator, who will take care of the orphans and widows under your care on earth? Who will replace you at St.Paul’s Catholic Church, Utonkon?
You had two wishes: one, to go to Jerusalem on pilgrimage and, secondly, to attend Catholic Mass in Rome. In 2013/2014, you were in Jerusalem, your visit to Rome has now become a stillborn! Oh, merciless death, you sting very hard! You inflict irredeemable injuries!
But our consolation is that you lived a great life of service to God and humanity, our consolation is that you have gone the way of all mortals, our consolation is that there is life after death; our consolation is that, on planet Earth, you were a legend. Legends don’t die, they simply transfigure to the great beyond to continue with their good work. Rendering selfless service to God and humanity is your calling and this you are doing already in heaven.
Mama, as we lower your remains to Mother Earth on Saturday, January 13, 2018, in Ijigban, your place of birth, I can not grieve in perpetuity, for you taught me to always trust God and believe that He approves of all happenings in the affairs of man. But I will honour you in perpetuity, I will immortalise you in perpetuity! Mama, I will use the ENAYI OTTAH FOUNDATION, which I established many years ago in your honour, to continue to reach out to as many people as possible and advance the frontiers of those profound principles you stood for.
Mama, I promise to live your dreams and uphold those profound ideals that made you the essentially quintessential Christian and matriarch! So help me God! Mama, greet my siblings: Rose, Peter and Edwin and dad. I love you all.
May your souls rest in peace, until I join you to part no more!
• Agbo, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State, wrote via [email protected]