I would like to introduce you to someone. Her name was ‘Patience’. Before you start wondering what is so special about her or why anyone should even bother to read her story, I employ you to stay with me a brief moment and all would be clear in the end. I will start by giving you a brief background on Patience’s life.
Patience was the eldest daughter of a cocoa farm owner and her mother was a business woman. She grew up in the culturally rich Ogun State of Nigeria, which is renowned for its prehistoric sites and artefacts. One of such sites being ‘Olumo Rock’ a popular tourist attraction visited by people from around the world. It is also known for cotton weaving, pottery making and Adire (fabric dyeing and batik). It was in this beautiful state that Patience was raised and went on to do a nursing course there for three years. She met her husband Rufus, whilst doing her nursing course and relocated to the United Kingdom after they got married in the 1960s.
On getting to the United Kingdom, she wanted to further her nursing studies but the only nursing courses she could find were based outside London. She knew doing the course would mean sacrificing quality family time with her children and decided to change careers in order to spend time with her family.
She went on to embark on a five year part-time catering course whilst raising her growing young family. At the same time, she had a day job and also took on a part-time night job to help financially support her family back home. On completion of her catering studies, she worked in the catering industry, throughout her time in the UK. She even worked in the Health and Social Care sector as a caterer, possibly to combine her love for helping others with her catering practice. Patience later relocated to Lagos, Nigeria with her family and joined the Civil Service as a caterer.
What Patience did on return to Nigeria was what made me write about her. Being the eldest daughter for her parents, she quickly became the go-to person for everything. For one, she was closer to home and was within reach. Her maternal and paternal family would call on her for advice and to help settle family disputes. It was a demanding role that came with great amount of responsibilities that was financially, emotionally, and physically demanding but she did it with effortless grace. Because of this, she became the glue that held everyone together.
Patience was a lively person who made friends easily and knew people from all works of life. Some of these people would seek regular life advice from her and she was always on hand to offer them some wise counsel. She did it honestly and would never hide the truth. Infact, her penchant for honesty, made people respect her more. She could banter with anyone and made people laugh. The unusual thing about her was how her beautiful smile would light up the lives of others. People would often talk about how her smile comforted them. She had a way of making people feel at ease no matter what they were facing.
In addition to this, she was a God-fearing philanthropist who lived by a basic Bible principle which was, to ‘Love God and Love others as yourself’. She didn’t have much in the form of money, but what she did have, she used to help and encourage others, however little it was. She would always find ways to reach out to anyone in need and would not only use mere words but take tangible actions to help.
She went on to raise several children who needed the loving guidance of a mother and went on to become a mother figure to them. She would do charitable works for orphans and widows and also do charitable works for her local church. The unique thing about her, was that she didn’t want her charitable works to be seen, she would rather help people in private. This was something those she helped came to appreciate about her. She did it for the love in her heart and didn’t like showmanship.
So, why did I write about Patience? I had to write about her because even though I knew she was a truly special human being, it wasn’t until she died suddenly on Feb 27th 2021 that some of the people she helped in private started telling her family what Patience did for them. As they came forward one by one, none with a dry eye in sight, they told their ‘Patience’ story. These stories weren’t limited to Nigeria, they came from across the world. Even those she met a handful of times had something good to say about her. These are stories I can’t necessarily replicate, as I wouldn’t do it justice and there simply isn’t enough space to contain all the things she did. However, what I will attempt to do, is to post some of the things people said about her as a reminder of how you don’t need to have much to make a difference.
Due to her charitable works she became fondly known as ‘Mama’ to most people, ‘Sister’ to her siblings and extended family, ‘Grandma’ to the neighbourhood children who adored her greatly and Mummy to her adoptive children and those she mentored across the world.
Patience was my mother and the love of my life. She encouraged my love of crafts and would often source fabrics for me from Ogun State her childhood home. Some of these fabrics I’ve gone on to use for bookbinding projects which I featured on my website. She was a great wife, an inspirational mother, a wonderful grandmother and a diligent great grandmother. She raised my siblings and I with the same values she embodied. A value we witnessed her share with others times without number. Her only wish for me and my siblings was not to acquire worldly things, but for us to know Christ. A wish she saw fulfilled before she died, as everyone of her children became followers of Christ and are now looking to carry on her legacy.
She didn’t have a huge bank account, but used what she had to its fullest potential and when she left the world, she left no stone unturned. Why? Because she did what she was here to do, ‘ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITH LOVE AND KINDNESS’.
In the grand scheme of things, I have come to realise that it doesn’t really matter how mum died. What matters most is, ‘WHAT THE LAST BREATH SHE TOOK’, said about THE SUM TOTAL OF HER LIFE’. Because even though she is no longer with us, she is still teaching us a thing or two about life. That is, ‘how to do the best you can, with whatever you have’. And it makes me feel privileged to call this beautiful soul, who will forever live in my heart, my mother.
Below are some of the tributes that came through for mum from people around the world and it also includes tributes from my siblings and I.
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I'm Kemi West. A simple Christian, learning to live life, through the teachings of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures. I’m looking to share the gift of Christ with others.