“Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead. I look at the future and shudder with dread. For my young are all rearing young of their own, And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known, I’m and old woman now and nature is cruel. These were the words of grandma as she narrates the sad stories of her travail and the neglect by her children.
It was on one of her regular visits:
“What are you doing here?”, Tokutbo fumed! She would have shouted at the woman standing helplessly before her but her friends were close by. She wouldn’t want them to listen to their conversation, or even know she was talking to her mother.
“What kind of question is that? Of course, I’m here to see you.” Toyin replied in a bewildered tone.
“I thought I told you I would come and see you at home? You didn’t have to come all the way to my house,” Tokunbo warned.
“You told me the same thing two two weeks ago, but you never showed up.And every time I call you, you never pick up,” said grandma.
“I’ve been very busy. When I find time, I would come see you” Tokunbo answered in her defence.
“Okay, I’ve heard you.” Tokunbo looked away as grandma struggles to get her attention. My daughter [apologetically], The doctor has warned me to never stop using my medications. But for almost a week now, I haven’t taken any of my drugs because there’s no money to buy them, let alone to feed well”
“I don’t have money on me now [Tokunbo cuts in]. Maybe when I come to see you, I would have money by then.” She had grown impatient with the Toyin, her mum, as she occasionally looked at her watch and waved to her friends to give her more time.
Grandma: [with painful tears she queried] “Tokunbo, ki ni mo se fun e? (Meaning, “What have I done to you?”). What have I done to deserve such treatments from you and your siblings!?” [The pain she felt was evident in her voice but Tokunbo did not give a hoot.]
“Maami (mother), what is all these? I said I’ll come see you [Tokunbo stressed]. Is it because I’m even standing here talking to you that you feel you’ve grown wings? Besides, I’m not the only child you gave birth to? Why aren’t you also running after Tolani and Tunde? Oh, you know too well that they don’t even care if you die! So, please free me, abeg, she exclaimed!
“Tokunbo! Tokutbo!!? [Grandma tries to get her attention] E mi niyen o! (meaning, you are addressing me like that?). It’s me you’re insulting, eh? Me that carried you in my womb for nine months, and ensured you and your siblings never lacked care even after the demise of your father. Is this is the reward I get for bringing you up?” So, this is what I deserve as the mother of three wealthy but foolish children?
“Maami, you caused it yourself, [Tokunbo retorted]. You allowed brother Tunde to sell all Dad’s properties, and you did nothing even when your family advised that you got him arrested and reclaim all Daddy left for us. And since you are comfortable remaining a poor pensioner, then allow us to enjoy our hard earned money please. Besides, have I not done enough for you? What else do you want from me mama?, she fussed.
As grandma looked on in amazement, Tokunbo continued, “Maybe if you ask Tolani and Tunde nicely, they would find something to give you. I have better things to do with my life than to stand here talking to you.” [She scribbled away furiously to catch up with her friends who were waiting for her. Toyin watched helplessly as her daughter conversed with her friends before they entered the black Toyota car and drove off.]
Tokunbo had told her friends that the woman she was talking to was a poor beggar. She was too embarrassed to tell them she was her mother.
Toyin wept profusely. She knew her daughter didn’t like her but she never imagined she hated her that much. She tried to wipe her tears with the edge of her wrapper, as she trudged up the stairs of the pedestrian bridge. “How do I get home now?, she wondered.
The moment her children were old enough to fend for themselves, they abandoned her. They always gave her excuses as to why they didn’t care for her.
She stopped by at a phone shop and tried to explain her story to the young man who took her for a begger, and could only allow her a one minute call to her sister who lived few miles away.
Unfortunately, grandma’s younger sister was no where close to help. So she ended up in a church close by to seek help. If people ignored her, God won’t, she thought.
The church seemed deserted but the doors were wide opened. Only God welcomes everyone with opened arms. He never abandons those who sincerely seek Him. When she entered, no one was there. This was the perfect opportunity for her to unburden her heart to God.
She knelt beside the altar and mumbled these words:
“God, You know I did everything within my power to care and provide for the children you gave me. Ever since their father died, I took it upon myself to ensure they become responsible children. This is the reward I get for being their mother. If they are embarrassed to be seen with me, why don’t they take care of me and polish me up the way my friends’ children take care of them?
[With tears rolling down her cheeks], she continued, Tolani and Tunde won’t let me see my grandchildren. Even if they have refused to take care of me, should they still deny me of seeing my grandchildren? I am weak and frail. I don’t know what else to do. This is not the kind of future I hoped for. Lord, please fight for me. Avenge me of this injustice my children have put me through.
[She prayed more intensely], Until they realise their mistakes, do not hold back your wrath from them. But in all these, Lord, hold back Your wrath from my grandchildren and their generations yet unborn. Don’t let their children suffer from their iniquities. All these I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.”
How I wished grandma made a heartfelt prayers of blessings on his children before she died. She passed on six years later without seeing any of her children or grand children. “Tolani, Tunde, Tokunbo, were soon faced with hardship, but it was too late to get the blessings of a mother that truly cared.
My friend, the reasons behind your mystery could be the neglect of your parents. Those who once care for us, they say, are deserving of our cares. You don’t have to be wealthy before you take care of your parents. The blessings attached to cherishing our parents are far more than you can think of. The scriptures says, “Children, honor your parents so that you may live well and have long life” (Ephesians 6:1-2). A prosperous life is consequent upon honoring our parents and those who have cared for us.
At a remembrance anniversary organized by the children four years after, Tunde spoke up, ” Pastor, it’s not as if we disrespected grandma on purpose. We had no reason tangible enough to justify our actions. We wish we could take it all back. We’re so sorry for neglecting our mother. It’s a shame she’s not alive to witness our change of hearts.”
It’s a shame indeed! Rather than provoke the blessings of their mother before she died, they received curses that limited their progresses in life. That is what happens to those who neglect the care of their parents and older ones. Even if you are prosperous, such riches would not last without the honor of your parents.
“Pastor, God literally put us in her shoes to know exactly how she felt. For seven years, we have lived from hand to mouth. Our friends and and family members ignored us. No one would listen to us or even helped us.” [Tokunbo broke down in tears] “Please forgive us, mother!”
There is no reasons or excuses enough to abandon or neglect our parents and older ones. No matter how bad or wicked we think they are, they carry a blessing that we need to live well and live long. We must learn to overlook their faults and give our best to them while they are alive.
Before his death, the biblical Isaac requested of his son Esau, for his favorite meal, so that he can bless him. The sumptuous meal which was the desire of Isaac, was to be the kindness that would provoke his personal and eternal blessings upon his first child, Esau (Gen.27). No kindness shown to our aged ones would go unrewarded!
As we mark the international day of older persons, plan to show some kindness to your parents or elderly ones, such that would provoke a heartfelt prayers of blessings upon you, and move you to the next phase of your life.
It might be a gift, a call or even a visit. Just show some care, no matter how small. You’re winning! Yes, we are winning!
Story by: Afolayemisi Ogunwale