It is common place to hear complaints about mothers-in-law, even among young mothers, who aspire to become mothers-in-law themselves.
In fact, there is a story about a man, whose relationship with the mother-in-law was so bad. The family had gone on a holiday to Jerusalem, where the mother-in-law, unfortunately passed on. Given two options of either burying her in the holy land at a comparatively cheaper funeral cost or taking her body back home to a distant continent for burial at a much higher cost, the son-in-law surprisingly went for the more expensive option. His explanation was that a Man, (apparently referring to Jesus Christ), had died and was buried in the holy land some 2,000 years ago, only for him to rise from the dead after three days! The son-in-law had had enough of his mother-in-law, and would not have anything to do with her, not in this world, and even in the world to come!
This might be an allegory, but the roles often depicted by the Mama Gees of Nigeria’s Nollywood typify the figure of these dreaded mothers-in-law.
But I am blessed that my experience is different. Mrs Dorothy Andrea Enweazu Nwakunor (Nee Elumeze), was not just a mother-in-law that most would cherish, she was a true mother to me. Unlike the man cited in the story above, if money was the issue, “Mama di Mama,” as we fondly called her, would be with us today.
A loving, generous and wonderful mother, wife, aunty, colleague, community leader, a trusted friend and virtuous woman, famous for her philanthropy and big heart for the poor, Mama passed on to eternal glory on 6 April, 2018, after a brief illness, at the age of 82.
We love her but God loves her most. I could write a voluminous book on Mama’s godliness and goodness, over the 30 years that I knew her, including the period of my courtship with her daughter, my wife, Chionye-edue, my God’s gift and jewel of inestimable value.
It all started as “a talk by three prospective suitors,” who felt it was time for them to settle down. With my first car (1985), a Subaru 1800 saloon, the three of us, embarked on the adventure on that fateful evening that would result in my blessed marriage. Escorted by a relative who knew the Nwakunors, and who had often joked with Mama that “one of my brothers will marry this, your daughter, who is very respectful, hard-working and well-behaved.” Talk about a good seed, bearing good fruits!
I had packed the car a reasonable distance to the then residence of my in-laws-to-be in Surulere, Lagos. But in spite of the fact that our visit was unannounced, the hospitality Mama showered on us lingers in our memory till date.
Before the visit, young charming Chionye-edue, had nothing other than her education and the possibility of going to a Convent to become a reverend Sister on her mind. But the all-knowing God has better plans for us. As we exchanged pleasantries during the visit, our chemistry was infectious and our two hearts connected. One thing led to another and the rest, as they say is history.
Mama will always remain in our hearts for her invaluable guidance and support. To the glory of God, my wife and I will be 30 years next September in a union that continues to receive and unleash abundant divine blessings.
It is time to celebrate Mama. A retired officer of the Nigerian Customs Service, Mama di Mama and her husband, the late Engineer M.B.O. Nwakunor, were equally blessed with children, my amiable in-laws, whom they spared no effort to bring up with great discipline and good education.
As newlyweds, my wife and I learnt teachable life lessons from Mama, who called and treated me as her son. From her, we learnt several secrets that have made our marriage exemplary, anchored on God’s grace and foundation. For instance, Mama taught us very early in our marriage to avoid the pitfalls associated with exposing a marriage to third-party influence. Consequently, our two families are so closely-knit that in my wife, I see Mama’s legacy of a home-builder, a peace-maker, a godsend wife, and a gifted marriage counsellor. From Mama, we also picked up a key lesson in parenting – always correct your children with love and pray for them at all times.
As the only child of her mother, in the large family of Chief Francis Okonjo Elumeze of Ishekpe Quarters, Ogwashi-Uku, Headquarters of Aniocha South Local Government Council of Delta State, Mama epitomized industry, hard work and selfless service. She radiated love and care and touched many lives. While Mama showered all with love, she never condoned indiscipline or injustice.
Our Mama di Mama will be greatly missed, especially her prayers. My wife is inconsolable, that her best friend and confidant has gone. But we take comfort that Mama lived a fulfilled life and has joined her beloved husband in the bosom of the Lord.
Survived by many children, grand-children and great-grand-children, Mama will be laid to rest at the Nwakunor Family Compound in Azungwu Quarters, Ogwashi-Uku after a wake and funeral service.
Please join us in celebrating the life of our woman of honour, who having completed her divine mission here on earth, has gone to heaven to meet our Creator, Who has His purpose and the best plans for our lives.
Adieu Mama di Mama, Iya Paul, Iya Nnamdi, Iya Angie, Iya Sussan (Pinky) and mother to many. Rest in perfect peace.
– Ejime is a media and communications specialist.
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