For My Father’s Mother: Mama Ekaette.

The women in my family are strong, hardworking, affectionate and powerful in their own rights. Truly, in my eyes they are all heroines and their stories deserve to be told. Follow me on this journey as I try to bring  to life these women both dead and alive who have made me who I am today…

Mrs. Catherine Ekaette Uwanaka was my grandmother from my father’s side. She was one of the bravest, kindest and most loving person I ever met and losing her was very painful. My grandma was a conundrum. I could never really understand the way she thought sometimes but she always made perfect sense to me. She was a very very discreet woman who believed that everything should be said in hushed tones and that not all thoughts should be said out loud.

quotes-for-my-grannie--alwa

When my sister and I were much younger, my parents sent us home to her for every long vacation and she insisted that we leave our English language behind in the city and adapt to her way of life. She would take us to the farm and the market and we could never keep up with her startlingly fast paced steps. For an old woman, she walked very briskly and we always ran to catch up with her. I remember vividly one time I went somewhere with her and on our way home we saw a man who was deaf and dumb. I asked her: mama, is that man deaf and dumb? She was so embarrassed because she was very proper and didn’t like to talk about other people. She looked at me sternly and asked me if I needed a microphone to ask the whole community my question! And then she burst out laughing. It wasn’t until we got home that she quietly said: yes my daughter, he was indeed deaf and dumb…

My grandma was the most enduring woman I know. She got married very early, was widowed very early and buried five of her children in her life time, still she was always cheerful and completely submissive to the will of God in her life. She taught me how to forgive quickly and completely and she was a perfect example of never keeping a grudge. She taught me how to cook by the fire, how to plant a seed, how to pray in my native language, how to sit. She had her quirks, oh she sure had them. My grandma would never throw away anything! She saved everything. One time she went to Church with the price tag hanging out from her scarf! We had a really good laugh about that one. She drank a cup of tea with every meal. She would reheat the tea over and over and over…She was our angel, but she wasn’t without her flaws. She would conceal rather than confront, she always wanted everything to be hush hush and sometimes she would rather be quiet than speak up and give correction. That is probably the only flaw she ever had. Oh! She was gracious and very grateful for every little thing given to her. I remember giving her a wrist watch that my mother had given to me, she wore it till she died. Mama danced her gratitude whenever she was given anything regardless of what it was. She absolutely hated red nail polish, long nails and loud makeup, she believed completely in modesty and God knows I loved her deeply for all the lessons she instilled in me.

She has been gone for  many years now, but if I close my eyes, I can still see her standing at the gate of our country home, screaming her welcome and full of hugs whenever we came home from the city. I can remember her long hugs and prayers and her deep sadness whenever it was time for us to go back…and if I listen hard enough, I can hear her saying the Grace in our language: “amara nke onye nwe anyi Jesus Christ, ihunanya nke Chineke, na nmeko nke mmuonso. Nna duru anyi ugbua ruo na mgbe ebiebi…amen.”

I love you mama, I will always miss you.

4 Replies to “For My Father’s Mother: Mama Ekaette.”

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