For months many have been preparing earnestly for this day. They’ve kept up with current trends, searched online and in neighborhood stores for that perfect costume. The one that cries individuality but conveys that huge “Wow!’ factor when unveiled. Yes, for many Westerners tonight is Halloween. Interestingly, I’ve never celebrated the event. I’ve never donned a costume or gone to a costume party. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the tradition per se, it’s just, the day holds a much bigger significance in my life. Today is my mum’s birthday and she turns 70! So, I’ve always spent the day reflecting on who she is and what she means to me.
I am who I am because God chose her. I’ve been told I’m a carbon copy of her. I don’t see it, but I do see her beauty (both inner and outer). My dad would have been crazy to have missed her during their college days at the University of Nebraska. That smile accentuated by radiant cheek bones. That resilience. That work ethic. Her realistic idealism. Her philanthropy. Her care for those society has written off. Her support for dad through some difficult times. Her support for her family…ALL OF THEM. The things she’s endured herself.
You see, mum was born into a large family. Six sisters and one brother. She was dependable as a young girl. Her parents could always count on her. She did well in secondary school and it wasn’t a surprise that she earned a USAID scholarship to Nebraska and then onto Purdue for her graduate studies. Someone that focused would have to attract a like-mind. Falling for that equally handsome doctoral student was only natural. They married in Lincoln over 45 years ago and still look great together. I love the pictures mum sends me of her and dad dressed up for Church every Sunday. She’s still radiant! The picture I just received of her sitting in a brand new car dad bought her today underscores her excitement but more importantly, her gratitude to God!
As the first in her immediate family to go overseas for an education back in the 60s, she knew her siblings would need her. Her community back home would need her. Her homeland would need her new found expertise. She and dad returned home with me to do their part in helping a country 13 years removed from independence. Today, mum is a retired civil servant and philanthropist. In her time, she’s helped advance the cause of science and technology; supported her siblings, nephews, and nieces in getting their education; and has done the same for so many more. Every New Year’s day, hundreds return to express their gratitude for my parent’s support. I can’t return every year, but I thank God daily for the gift of my mother.
She’s still the best driver I know…even at 70! She’s the best price negotiator I’ve ever observed. If you’ve ever shopped in an open market in Africa, the Caribbean, or any developing country, you know how important negotiating is to the final outcome. Mum is a certified pro. I could write a book about this woman but knowing her, she’d prefer the blessing of simply fulfilling God’s call on her life as a servant, daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, sibling, and friend.
I love you mum…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!