(Dedicated to mum: you are more than I could ever ask for)
The smell of mentholated spirit filled the air as I walked into room. I’ve watched the tufts of gray hair on mother’s head increase over the years. Occasionally, she dyed it, but only the edges. She said the more dye, the faster the grays re-appeared and she was right. It was easy to see with dad’s own hair.
She pierced herself. The winding sound of the pen. Withdrawal. Then she was done. She looked up through her frame of glasses and said, “Wo ron wo le?” meaning “Have you woken up?” in my local dialect.
I answered “E” (Yes), “Migwo!”
She returned my greeting and I watched her pack up her kit and put it in the wardrobe. She’d have to do it again at dusk and that was how she lived every day.
Mother has been diabetic for as long as I can remember and on insulin for 10 years now. That was her only option when she became very ill just after I’d entered secondary school. At first, she used the typical syringe, ushering a fat needle into her lap almost every morning.
For me, swallowing pills is bad enough when I’m ill. I can’t imagine what it feels like for pills to be combined with needle piercings, in order to live.
We are more than grateful to have her. She’s carried on gracefully through these years. Now she’s retired and I’m the only undergraduate amongst my siblings, the stress is less; yet, I wonder who but God can repay mother for all the sacrifice over the years.
Daddy got retired the year my eldest brother gained admission into the university, the same year I was born. So mummy had to balance both bread-winner and house-keeper roles at those times when daddy’s business couldn’t meet up. Unfortunately, it seldom met up.
As I write, deep gratitude washes over the shores of my heart. It abandons the debris of her complaints that we don’t love and appreciate her enough and I cringe at the reminder of my own self-absorbedness. In school, I hardly keep in touch. At home, I’m mostly consumed with the thought of another love that got away and wondering whether to chase or let him be. Thus, I haven’t always succeeded at paying attention to the things that matter to her.
Some years ago, my brother doctor introduced her to a new insulin technology—HumaPen Engo. Its needle is lots thinner and eased mummy’s travail a lot. Years after using it, she recently began complaining of the hardness of the laps she’s pierced for years. I really do not know if the laps are getting more turgid or if it’s her getting worn out from the whole process, but I pray it’s the former.
I really do want to love mother more because time is running out on both of us.
She’s now over sixty and even if she lives to a hundred, job and family will sooner make my visits home occasional. So what’s the chance that I’d be less self-absorbed then when my “self” will comprise a husband and kids, no longer just me?
If mummy has a favourite amongst her kids, she doesn’t let us know—something else that makes her super-amazing. I am most grateful to God who has given her the strength to carry on every single day. I know He has been the source of her health, not the injections.
Please God, continue to keep my mum for me and above all, give me the heart to love her relentlessly, the way she deserves.