Some time later this year or early next year, God willing, my family will have a thanksgiving ceremony for our aging parents (they are well into their early eighties). When the idea came up from our eldest brother over the Easter holiday my mind went back to some time last year when my mom said that she is now in extra time as far as her life is concerned and could be gone to be with the Lord at any moment. I think she was referring to the Psalm of Moses as she reflected on her on life, “The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
Like it happens very often these days at funerals where I come from, spouses, siblings or children are asked to say something about their departed beloved, I wondered what I would say at my mother’s funeral if went before me – that is if I am asked to say a word.
Well, a thanksgiving ceremony is a better place to say about your parents than a funeral because they will be in attendance. So, I have been wondering what I would have to say about my parents and probably my elder siblings, for who knows what form that ceremony would take – it will probably be some feasting, gift giving, testimonies and general fellowship which might draw in many things from family members in appreciation for our parents.
One thing, I have always cherished about my mom is her resilient spirit besides love and care for other people other than her family. When faced with difficult situations, I often remember this saying from mom, “Run as you cry.” That saying which has a multifaceted interpretation has always been an inspiration to me to press on when all seem hopeless. You can interpret her saying in the modern way, “If you are going through hell, please keeping going for you will eventually get out from the other hand.” But what I know is that saying is got from olden days when attacks by wild animals where common in the community and the elders advice to children was that you run as you cry for help if under attack. Do NOT just sit there, do something or you run the risk of just being swallowed up by the animal or overwhelmed by the difficult situation. It is a cry of faith – you act on what you believe.At least that something I would say about mom and for which I am so thankful to God.
Papa has always been stern disciplinarian and a perfectionist, and sometimes even an idealist. From papa, I have learnt and often desired to be thorough in whatever I do and obviously I have also had the opportunity of learning from his shortfalls, especially his idealistic side which sometimes slid into procrastination while trying to get everything right. There is one other thing which organisations like UNICEF and WHO spends so much money teaching people who I imperceptibly learnt from my father – washing hands. I will not elaborate much but the first thing that dad always did when he got home from his work, meeting, funeral etc, was wash hands and with soap, and with warm water very often.
There are obviously a lot more I have learnt from parents but Papa’s disciplinarian character and Toto’s persevering spirit,and love for education saw us go through school through some of the most challenging times and circumstances. Papa’s disciplinarian and perfection tendencies have not always endeared to him some people, neighbors, relatives and friends. But all in all his intentions have been good even when he has got it wrong.
Thanksgiving, might also be a good opportunity to thank my elder siblings for the good thing I have learnt from them. Starting with the eldest; Doctor Epuwatt has taught me neatness and personal hygiene. I remember a time back in the early nineties when he was hospitalized and I was his attendant, he always got me to help him stay clean in several ways before we moved to a better hospital where the nurses took over. While he was on that hospital bed he also reminded me always to brush and bathe both in the evening and morning just like he did and keep things around us orderly.
I remember soon after Epuwatt was out of hospital my young brother was taken ill and when I returned from military school to find him rather filthy in his hospital bed, I gave him a thorough wash, shave and changed his dirty hospital sheets for my new denim sheets my brother David her brought me as a gift from a trip to the US. Since that time in hospital with Epuwatt, my desire has always been to be orderly and neat, not forgetting to pray and read the Bible – something he taught from that hospital bed in the Dr Albert Cook ward in Mengo Hospital.
Talking about David, he always read and told us stories at bed time while we were young primary school kids. I remember the story of , “Work for me to see”, pot that made food for a destitute man on condition that it was never washed but when the wife washed it, it never produced food again. Thus David planted in me a desire to read and probably tell stories in this very manner – writing.
Grace who follows David usually sung songs at bed time and often danced in the day while she sung – especially in her secondary school days. And I have been singing even though I no longer danced like danced myself mad while in Secondary school, even as I dug or herded cattle and pigs.
Catherine, whom I follow, has a bit of Papa and Toto – discipline, perseverance, love and care. When I was fresh out of college and looking for a job/afoot on commission basis sales jobs, she cared for me like my mom and I learnt how to have my house in order from her. When I moved out and into my own flat in Kampala, I hit the ground running. There was order, neatness, food and the warmth of love around me and our home.
God bless my parents and long live my siblings. I love you ALL.