While growing up in Aba, there were many single mothers and fathers I knew on my street. They were single because of the demise of their mates, which lives most between seven and eight children. You’ll believe that no matter how good a mother is, sole parenting is a differentand difficult task. And no matter how lovely and caring a father is, he will be swimming above his paygrade to attempt to solely raise his child or children.
Some fathers are usually strict and harsh while dealing with their children and some mothers are soft on the same task. However, if the two come together to train up a child, the child will end up becoming normal to some extent. When a father becomes too harsh or too strict in matters, the softness of a mother assuages this. Perhaps, that is how nature has made it to be: two imperfect complementing hands raising up a child.
You’ll believe that no matter how good a mother is, sole parenting is a different and difficult task. And no matter how lovely and caring a father is, he will be swimming above his paygrade to attempt to solely raise his child or children.
In my church then, we had a special service every last Sunday of the month for the widows and widowers. My pastor who was then working with an oil company in Port Harcourt had a bank account he had set aside for their use, and he encouraged willing members who God had touched their hearts to donate as well. And, nonmembers who were widows and widowers were equally welcomed. They were treated equally like the church members. And respected, too.
A day before the service, a Saturday, the pastor appoints some members of the church to go to the market to buy foodstuffs: bags of rice, canned tomatoes, seasonings, fresh and dried fish, vegetables, and lots of other things. During this service, all the widows and widowers are called out to the altar and prayed on by the pastor and the church members, alongside their children. Later, the gifts are presented to each family. I was always fascinated by the smiles on their faces, by the expressions there, and how they would walk steadily back to their seats. The pastor would encourage them to walk on majestically, to never allow anybody intimidate them. They should never get tired of disturbing God who would take care of them.
I grew up loving these people. I grew up having a soft spot for them because of the courage and strength they exhibit. Happiness they show can still be had, however difficult. They found reasons to move on with their lives after the death of their spouses. They were not after how the storm of life is throwing them here and there, the tribulations of life may come in different forms but they were not moved by it. That has always been my happiness.
Happiness they show can still be had, however difficult.
No matter how ugly your mother is (if there is anything like that), she is still your mother and there’s nothing to equal her in anyway, same as your father. Aside from being strong people, these widows and widowers have something in common too: they are courageous and brave. You hardly see their tears in public. They have this fortitude of holding on for a very long time. They live a prayerful life. A life full of hope and faith. A grieving widow’s pain is unique and differing. What encourages and uplifts one woman may be painfully unhelpful to another. Grief is like a virus that waxes and wanes with intensity.
We have forgotten to help those in need. The quest for survival has made many of us forget the smallest of all things that is very essential to our neighbours. Perhaps the toiling and sweating of our daily activities have made us lose focus on those who seek for our attention in our communities. I have come to understand that not everything is about money. Sometimes when we don’t have money, we should encourage and care for others. It helps.
You should in your spare time think about these people. These people that some well-fed neighbours have categorized as baggers because they seek for water to quench their thirst. They are widows, and widowers, not beggars. They are not dogs you stone food.
Again, don’t neglect these people. Don’t allow them tear up when they remember their lost loved ones. Help them in whatever way you can. A grieving widow who lives alone may go several days without hearing another human voice, especially months after the initial funeral of her husband. Emails, text messages and letters are good; however, phone calls and visits may be better if you can create that time. While this may not seem like the most efficient use of your time, efficiency and effectiveness are sometimes mutually exclusive. Emotional minefields such as these may require intimate knowledge of the bereaved and how they are coping with their loss. A close friend, relatives or neighbors might be better suited to visit a widow than some pastors. Don’t confuse compassion for a church acquaintance with a call to take personal action. If you don’t know the widow well, allow one of her close friends to direct your efforts. It will ease out so many things when someone very close visits her.
John Chizoba Vincent is a poet, author, cinematographer and filmmaker. He was born and brought up in Aba and later moved to Lagos where he had his tertiary education. His works have appeared on allpoetry, Voicesnet, Poetrysoup, Poemhunter, Africanwriter, TuckMagazine, Gaze, Naijastories, Praxismagazine, Nairaland, black boy reviews and forthcoming in BrittlePaper. His writings have featured in many anthologies both home and abroad. He has five books published to his credit which includes Good Mama, Hard Times, Letter from Home, For Boys of Tomorrow. Find him here: Instagram, @OfficialJohnVincent; Twitter, @Chizoba_Vincent