Ewurasi was at the Teaching Hospital, sitting by the bed side of her ailing mother. Grandma Apenteng, as she was affectionately called, was rushed in when she collapsed at the church grounds during an evening service. Ewurasi was by then in the United States taking care of some business. When the news got to her, she quickly jumped on the next available flight and was home the following day
Grandma Apenteng had gained consciousness four hours before Ewurasi arrived at the hospital. The doctors had advised that she should not talk to anyone for some hours but she insisted on having a word alone with her daughter.
What she would tell Ewurasi will leave tears in her eyes. Grandma Apenteng cleared her throat, sipped some water feebly and said Ewurasi:
On your 1st Christmas, you were barely learning how to walk, you rose and fell several times, looking into your eyes I could see tears, of the pains of falling, but those same eyes were lit with determination to move to the next phase of your life. My eyes were also full of tears, seeing my precious baby fall and hurting herself several times, but I knew I couldn’t help, I couldn’t stop you, because if I had prevented you from taking those steps as a toddler, I would have denied you the pleasure of you standing on your own two legs. If I had assisted, you would have ended up always needing assistance to move around because your legs wouldn’t be strong enough to carry your own body.
On your 2nd Christmas, you had mastered the art of walking and running around. In fact you enjoyed the “catch me if you can” games we played together. For some reasons you had come to believe that you were too fast for me to catch, but did you ever wonder why I managed to catch you anytime you tripped before your flesh tasted the cruel pangs of the floor? Never mind. You had started talking, I listened to you with rapt attention although I had no idea what you were saying, and I enjoyed your elaborate speeches and encouraged you to go on.
On your 3rd Christmas, you had mastered your speech, we could have some conversations together, though mostly it was about you complaining and pointing to your older cousins for the wrongs they have done you. It was not easy for you when for the first time I had to leave you in the care of someone else, when I took you to school. You cried and threw tantrums to the point I nearly wanted to carry you back home with me, but your lovely kindergarten teacher assured me you will be just fine. Though I must admit it took longer than expected for you to settle down in school.
On your 4th Christmas, you had mastered schooling and socializing with your colleagues. Our conversations were full of tales about your friends in school and the incessant recital of those nursery rhymes you had fallen in love with.
On your 5th Christmas, you loved your school and your school mates. You kept insisting we go visit some of your colleagues who were next door neighbors on weekend’s .You cried when I wasn’t able to do that the first weekend. Realizing it meant a lot to you, I started building relationships with those neighbors and every weekend we were either visiting the neighbors or hosting them in our home. I must admit that in the beginning it was quite uncomfortable but thanks to you I became popular in the neighborhood.
On your 6th Christmas, you were amazing with your sheer command over the English language and ability to flawlessly recite bible quotations at our local church. You were intelligent and showed maturity above your age. Most importantly you were ready to enter primary school and was not surprised you were given your first taste of leadership as a class prefect.
On your 7th Christmas, you continued to show brilliance in school, and for some reasons you had fallen in love with your grandparents after spending the last vacation with them. Your continuous insistence of us visiting them or they coming to visit ended up strengthening my own relationship with them. Something I had yearned for but was too proud to admit.
On your 8th Christmas, you had finally mastered the art of reading without being prompted. For the first time I was barely struggling to keep up with your reading as you read in days, books I expected you to read in weeks. I was very proud of you, because I knew that this singular art of reading will take you far in life. I had to always be on the lookout for new and interesting children books. I ended up reviving my appetite for books as well
On your 9th Christmas, I was getting worried with your incessant questioning ranging from culture, religion and family. As frustrated as I was, I knew I had to take my time and answer all those numerous questions, because it will form the very foundation for your perspective in life. I had to sometimes do further research on my own to ensure I gave you the right answers. You remember that on a number of occasions, when you gleefully run to me and started “Mummy why is….” I told you that let us talk about it later in the evening. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in your conversations, but sometimes I didn’t have all the answers to all those questions and had to double check.
On your 10th Christmas, you were still asking lots of questions, but this time around I gave you some books and bible stories for you to read and later on discuss, I took all the time to help you see the lessons from the stories we read, something you loved so much.
On your 11th Christmas, you began to see significant changes, in your body, the phase of puberty had started knocking on your doors, I made sure I was extra available during this phase, I knew you needed to get all your questions answered and I hope I did a good job
On your 12th Christmas, you were very sad because you had lost in the finals of the National Spelling Bee Competition by only a point. It took you a while for you to appreciate my perspective that failure was only a bump on the road of success. You finally came to terms with it and went on to win the finals for two consecutive years.
On your 13th Christmas, you were now on the full journey of womanhood; you experienced your menstruation, something which we had been preparing for since age eleven. The hormones started kicking in and important parts of your body were visibly transformed.
On your 14th Christmas, you were looking outstanding, beautiful, intelligent and strong. You had passed with distinction and ready to go to High School. We were so delighted you received the Presidential Award for best performance and went on to study in your dream high school.
On your 15th Christmas, I was driving with you when you hesitantly requested if you could share something with me, I gave you that encouraging nod and you choked on the story about the guy in high school who seems to be getting your attention. I explained to you that it was part of growing up and there was nothing wrong with it. However, I reminded you of the strong biblical principles about how to relate to the opposite sex and the need for you to focus on you education. I could see the relief on your face when I thanked you for trusting me enough to share the information with. I still remember that hug you gave when I spoke those words to you.
On your 16th Christmas, you were simply sweet, adorable and had perfect understanding of your hormones. Yeah you told me several times about all those cravings and yearnings to be like the other girls, but you knew you were unique and self confident and didn’t have to tow the line of everybody else.
On your 17th Christmas we were busily discussing your college choices and the professional path you wanted to tow. Your problem was that you were good at both reading and calculation subjects, you had equal interest in physics and biology and excelled in each of them. However after catching up with Uncle Ben, the professional career counselor you were certain that Engineering was the way to go. You then went ahead to pass your high school exams with flying colors
On your 18th Christmas, you had just returned from college, you were excited about the diversity on campus and even admitted that some of your colleagues were way better in academics than you were. I told you that competition is good, because is it the only way to bring the best in you. I also reminded you of the necessity to avoid being a local champion. You smiled broadly and promised me that you will step in with your studies.
On your 19th Christmas, you were recounting how you have made progress in your academics and also the fact that you were considering some leadership roles in the SRC. You were also part of the mass choir and were involved with some student NGO which gathered used clothing and food to give to underprivileged communities. When I expressed my worry of your ability to juggle so many things you assured me that you got this one. Happy all these your involvements never impacted your grades, but rather ending up in making you a well rounded person.
On your 20th Christmas, you couldn’t wait to break the news in your triumph as the new SRC President. According to you, no one gave you a chance but your campaign message made you come across as genuine and someone who really wanted to help. Your involvement in other extracurricular activities won you the admiration and votes of majority of the students.
On your 21st Christmas, you were in the mood for your last lap of college years. You also spoke to me about your desire to partake in the Exchange Programme in the USA during your long vacation. You were worried I wouldn’t have the funds, but you never knew your dad and I had some investment made for you when you were born, I gladly arranged for some of the money for that exchange programme. I still look at those pictures you sent, and the numerous “Thank you notes” .For you the experience was priceless and eye opening. According to you, your ambitions in life shot three notches higher due to that trip.
On your 22nd Christmas, you had graduated with first class honors and were excited with your National Service placement. I couldn’t be so proud of the woman you had become, already beating all the expectations I had of you as a parent. I watch you receive a standing ovation from your professors during your graduation ceremony. According to you, practical engineering was pretty much different from all theories you had accumulated back in college. You felt unsettled at the beginning but you stepped up as always and soon became one of the most prized assets at the Engineering firm.
On your 22nd Christmas, you had successfully completed your National Service and had three job offers, including where you did your service. The offers were juicy and bigger than the average entry salary for graduates, but you were hesitant because you wanted to do your masters before you got immersed in the world of work. However you were worried there would not be enough funds to cater for your education abroad. Just as we were still wondering what the best options could be, you received a mail that you were successful with your application for Common Wealth Scholarship.
On your 23rd Christmas, you were far away in the UK, battling for your academic laurels against the cold and home sickness. I giggled when you mentioned that you were surprised to meet Ralph, your high school crush on the UK campus. He was also pursuing Medicine. When you demanded the reason for my laughter I refused to say anything though.
On your 24th Christmas, you were backing home with a Master’s Degree and a lot of fond memories of the UK. There were job offers waiting you as head hunters trailed you even whilst on campus. You finally decided to go back to the Engineering firm you did your National Service. You later revealed to me that anytime the senior management of that Engineering firm were in the UK for a conference, they did well to visit with some generous gifts, no wonder you didn’t lose weight throughout your intense studies in the UK.
On your 25th Christmas, you informed me that you had been promoted to the role of Senior Projects Engineer after just one year of working post your master’s education. You also mentioned that you had been handpicked for a special training to enable you become a top executive in your company after just three years. What else could I ask God for your life?
On your 26th Christmas, you informed me that you will be paying a visit with somebody. My guess was right, it was Ralph, and He had also successfully completed his medical studies and was now practicing at his grandfather’s big private hospital. You were worried if your father will receive him nicely. What you are not aware of is that your dad and I did some background checks on Ralph when you mentioned him to me on phone during your Master’s program in the UK. Apparently, Ralph’s father was Daddy’s classmate back in high School. They were very good friends. According to your dad, Ralph was from a very good home and will not hesitate to hand over his daughter to him if you so desire.
On your 27th Christmas, I was so proud of you when you gracefully nodded your head in acceptance of the gifts from Ralphs’s family during the engagement ceremony. The week after was even more spectacular, with that modest but well organized wedding ceremony. You never looked as beautiful as you did on your wedding day. I held your daddy tight with tears in my eyes when the priest pronounced you and Ralph as husband and wife.
On your 28th Christmas, you made me a grandmother, what a joy I had in my heart when I held my grandson for the first time. Funny enough I think my grandson took after the looks of your daddy, so cute.
On your 29th Christmas, you called to inform me that you have been promoted again as Head of the Projects Division of your company. I kept wondering what I had done to deserve so much blessings from God. Indeed his mercies endure for ever. Ralph was also carving a niche for himself as one of the best gynecologist in Africa. I was so proud of you.
On your 30th Christmas, you had given birth to your second child, an adorable daughter who was a replica of you during your childhood. Your husband invited us to spend Christmas in your house. In fact it such a joy. You were worried why I wouldn’t allow the house help to take care of everything. I retorted that a woman must run her home. You smiled and said to me that things are different now, that corporate women like you don’t have the luxury of undertaking a lot of house chores. I told you I perfectly understood, but insisted I belonged to a different world as a teacher, who had time at her disposal. You finally gave up and allowed me to work things out with the house help.
Today is your 40th Christmas, you are now a powerful director of a vibrant Engineering conglomerate in Africa, you travel a lot and you continue to push boundaries as a woman. You now have three adorable kids, a daughter and two sons. I will encourage you to be there for them, never forget the very foundations which made you who you are. Let them feel the love, care attention and support your daddy and I gave you. Let every minute of your time spent with them count. Don’t leave the fate of your children’s’ upbringing to a house help, nanny and their teachers, be actively involved and help them build the right foundation in the fear of the Lord.
I am not sure I will make it to my 71st Christmas, but I thank God he gave me the opportunity to enjoy all the 70 Christmas he promised us in His word. I can’t wait to see your father, who left me to be with the Lord three years ago.
I guess I have been able to pay my dues these past seventy years by raising a phenomenal woman like you. You were my only child, though I tried having a couple more but was never successful.
Nevertheless you have been more than enough for me and if you were the reason for which my maker allowed me to come to the face of this planet, then I guess I have done a good job.
I love you so much Ewurasi, take good care of my grandchildren.
With that said, Grandma Apenteng held the hand of her daughter tightly and with a smile of relief she gave up the Ghost.
From the desk of ROL
Image credit :Google images