Today is, in most countries across the world, Mothers’ Day. People are celebrating their mothers left, right, center, front, back, up and down. I celebrate Sarah (that’s her beautiful name) everyday; I’ve never had to wait for a day that some stranger from thousands of miles away (and thousands of years ago) randomly chose, before I can tell this woman how much I love her. Here’s why.
How Mum and Dad met is an interesting but not relevant story (not today). The same goes for the perfect love they shared for the first fourteen years of my life. Today’s story is about the Sarah that sprung up after Daddy was murdered in 2007. I was fourteen, the second of Dad’s six children and the eldest of Mum’s five. That ship wrecked really hard. We had seen it coming, but somehow were just never prepared enough.
The aftermath has been a long nostalgic decade of love and war, joy and pain, victories and definite defeats. Mom was still, in the seeming opinion of many, a very young woman that should have no trouble getting married again. Her own opinion and plans begged to disagree. She didn’t know how, but we would be alright without a new father. So she prepared herself, and us, for battle. She told us everyday that life was about to get hard. Nobody knew how hard.
The first war was Mum’s refusal to get remarried in my father’s family. You know how this whole wife-inheritance story goes. That birthed the theory that she was responsible for my father’s death in an effort to “take his property”. Overnight, Mum became a “murderer, witch and thief” all in one character (some Wonder Woman, eh?) with the most incriminating “evidence” coming from the stepson she had so lovingly raised as her own for years (with Dad’s disapproval), obviously fueled and proudly sponsored by Dad’s family. The wars got physical. Knives and tongues were sharpened. Pangas and spells were cast. A snake or two visited us in the house out of nowhere at random hours of the night. Bad manners, right?
We fled the house we owned in Jinja and fully settled in Mbarara, my second home and birthplace. Luckily, Mom was given her Survivor’s Benefit by NSSF Uganda. Being the entrepreneur that already owned a moderate retail business and a bar, I thought she’d invest the Benefit to make quick money. Nope; she built houses! Mum bought land and started building studio apartments. Barely five months after she’d started building, the landlord of our home kicked us out!
The rooms at the site were very far from complete (I’m talking about no doors, windows, ceiling or floor). They weren’t plastered, and cat-sized rats had built their own homes there! Using iron sheets, we made makeshift doors and windows and packed our stuff in two rooms. We set up camp in three other rooms, and moved in with our rat friends.
Mom completed the other rooms we (and our stuff) hadn’t occupied, and put them up for rent. The rent that came in fed us, clothed us, transported us to church and school, bought medicine and basically kept us alive. It wasn’t enough to complete the rooms we were occupying. So our tenants lived the Bourgeoisie life, while we lived miserably for the next 8 years. You’ll notice the same pattern among today’s richest people. They produce luxuries for us to buy, but they live modestly.
Mom gave her life to Jesus Christ, and this was the greatest gift she ever gave to us. She was very beautiful. She could have left us alone any day of her life. Men- rich men- hit on her daily, in our presence! I’ll never understand what strength she had to choose the life we lived. Mothers opt out. But she got married to Jesus, and that was just it.
Mom cried in her room every night. She cried when she prayed to God. She cried when she didn’t. Mom cried more than she breathed. She was the mother of five children that had never even dreamed of this life as possible, rejected by her husband’s family (a majority of whom he and she had catered for, paid for their education) for being a murderer and scoffed at by her own for choosing religion over logic. She had a son that was experiencing all this at the age of four!
While all this killed me, I didn’t lose faith in her. I played my role in our little beautiful mess and she was with me all the way. Brick by brick, we pooled resources, pushed prayers and somehow stayed in school. How we pulled that off for all those years is a miracle. Heck, our mere existence today is a miracle! Her cured Blood Pressure? Miracle. But perhaps the most miraculous part is how we somehow always looked forward to another day. Another dream. A chance to be happy again. We shared stories of the good old days and dreams of the good ones to come. We still laughed. We loved. We lived.
Eleven years later, life is changing. Mom is the mother of two working-class children, with a third degree knocking. We’re support our siblings in ways we can. Sarah is a legend. She is a goddess. She’s writing a more detailed account of her life, but consider this as the foreword- you’re welcome.
Mom, thank you for choosing God. Thank you for choosing us over them. Thank you for fighting for us, instead of against them. You lost that fight, but you won this war. You gave us a now-beautiful home. You kept us alive. You kept us happy. You taught us God, and you taught us love. You taught us forgiveness. You’ve taught me life lessons even you yourself don’t know. I’m proud of you. I love you with all that I am and I know that we’ll get you back for all the sacrifices you made. You’re my hero. Happy Mother’s Day.