by Nellie Shani
4/07/2010 / Death
"How old was your mother?" "Seventy four", I answered with pain searing through my heart with new intensity. "Oh that's not too bad, I thought maybe she was younger. Her time had come." Those words wounded me as if a thousand arrows had been thrust through my heart!
My mother had just died two days before, after four years of terrible suffering. During that time she was confined to a wheel chair. To someone else this may have been an old woman who had lived out her days, but to me this was Mama. Mama whose hands were rough and calloused from many years of digging in the garden to feed us. Mama whose skin had developed deep wrinkles as the tropical sun beat on her brow on her many trips to the river to fetch us water. I still remember her sitting by my bed all night, as she sponged me with a wet cloth when I developed malaria. She was bread winner, nurse and teacher all rolled into one. She was our strength and a shelter in the time of life's storms.
As the sun was setting, I saw the silhouette of her wheel chair casting a strange shadow against her bedroom wall. A symbol of a life come to an end. The wheelchair that confined her body but not her spirit, for she made that wheelchair her new sphere of influence.
Her physical pain did not stop her from telling endless stories of courage and strength as her grand-children giggled around her now twisted feet. Her mouth spewed wisdom to a young generation, oblivious of what the future held. Her eyes always seemed to be looking beyond what we could see with our natural eyes. Her heart seemed to beat to a different rhythm, always hopeful no matter what life brought her way. She taught us to concentrate on the beauty of the roses and not it's thorns. To look at the rainbow and not the rain. She taught us not to complain that we had no shoes for there were those with no feet.
She was laid to rest as the African sun was setting and a cock in the distance was crowing. Her grass-thatched hut, now deserted and forlorn, a refuge for a mother-hen with seven little chicks following behind. Mama - death of a loved one!
Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and on her author's websites.
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