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THE HERCULES OF MY WORLD
Life is a series of experiences that changes us. Just like the rain, it chills us to the bones and yet, it is strangely comforting. Like the famous North Star, my mother has pointed the way for our family in the darkest of nights.
Her warmth has spread beyond the stormy clouds; an anchor in the swirling abyss of the sea of life. For years, I had taken for granted that light that burns still, despite the strong winds. I was a chick refusing the cover of mother hen, believing that I could brave the hawks. I pecked away angrily at a love I did not deserve.
Looking back, I realize that I have come this far because I stood on the shoulder of a giant. I remember the storms we weathered together, the experiences that struck a chord in my heart, the tears behind closed doors and the acceptance despite my mistakes.
Hercules was a hero idolized for his physical strength. However, the greatest gods are not born; they are made in the furnace of affliction. My mother’s strength lies not in her muscles but in her heart.
She is much greater than Hercules for she is silver purified in the furnace of pain and suffering. In the year 2004, my father died leaving my mother with four children to handle. My brother had just gotten admission into the university, I and my other brother had just started senior secondary school and my sister was barely two years old.
My Mother struggled to make ends meet with her meagre pay and long working hours. A few weeks after my father’s burial, she asked my brother and I if we wanted to change schools. I didn’t know at the time that paying our school fees was giving her cause for worry.
With time, she found another job that paid better but it was only going to last six months. If she took it, she would have enough to cater for us all but after six months, she’d be jobless. It’s often said that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush but what if the bird in hand is too skinny to feed a person, wouldn’t you rather take your chances with the one in the bush?
My mother took a leap of faith for her family. She did catch the bird in the bush and it turned out to last more than 6 months and even till date. Life got much better but fate was not done with us just yet.
Few years after my father died, my mom became sick. It started gradually; certain changes we ascribed to grief and stress. She stayed in bed more often, usually too tired to carry out her usual chores. She went out less frequently and complained more often of the cold.
Soon, she stopped eating solid meals. The nights were spent vomiting; her once robust frame now thin and racking with cough. Despite treatment, this illness dragged on. She wobbled when she walked, taking slow laborious steps and stopping occasionally to catch her breath. Every morning, when she got ready for work, my eyes would get teary as I gazed upon her thin frame. I would plead with her to stay home but she would smile and say, ‘if I don’t go to work, where will I get money to feed my children?’ No matter how weak she felt, my mother was up before dawn every day, getting ready for work with sheer strength of will. She did everything she could, sometimes at great personal cost, to ensure we were comfortable.
Love is a language that defies all barriers, changing even the hardest of hearts. My teenage years were mostly spent in anger and solitude. However, this began to change a few days to Christmas in December 2006. My mother had put in so much effort to get me some new clothes. She was greatly displeased when I informed her rudely and without mincing words how much I disliked the clothes.
I had planned to apologize the next day but as early as 5 A.M, my mother was at my bedside with tears streaming down her face. She apologized for assuming she knew my taste and imposing her choice on me. I was speechless and broken. That was the day I was changed; it was the beginning of healing for both of us. There were many more episodes that strengthened our bond. Her unconditional love transformed our family.
Presently, my mother is a peer educator. She goes to schools, churches and organizations to educate young people about living right, sex and choices. It still amazes me when I realize the number of people who know her. She was a children’s teacher at church for many years. It is amazing to see her singing along with the children.
She’s not just a mother to me; she’s a mother to many. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me I have a wonderful mother. I just smile because I know. She has been a counsellor to my friends; always willing to take them under her roof. Last year, she gave a presentation at a national conference of radiographers in Calabar.
Whenever I think of her, I see a woman who defiled all odds to touch the stars. A woman who believed that with hard-work and faith, anything is possible. She is a like phoenix. Her two sons are Engineers with a first class in Petroleum Engineering and a second class upper in Electrical Engineering respectively.
Her first daughter is rounding off her medical programme early next year and her last child is in Junior Secondary School. My mother has worked hard to make an impact in her family, society and everyone she comes across. The world is filled with mothers of every kind but in my corner of the world, Lagos, Nigeria, is the finest woman God ever made.
Marion Itohan Odigie is an undergraduate student of the University of Benin, Edo state, Nigeria. I am Christian and Esan by tribe; the third of four children born to Dr. and Mrs. Odigie.
Wow!!! There are truly amazing Nigerian Women and Mrs. Lovinah Odigie is one of them. Though, I have an entry in this competition yet I am really thrilled to read the other entries. The women described in these articles show us who the Nigerian woman is.
This is an article written from a heart of love. Such women like Mrs Lovinah Odigie are gems you cannot just find anywhere world over. I know her for her genuine humility, in fact, she is one of the bravest women Africa will produce in decades to come.
If truly Wisdom is knowing what to do next and Virtue is doing it, then I see a woman who is gifted with the power of a God. A chat with Odigie gave me the understanding that we cannot tell the precise moment when frdship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over, so in a series of kindness there is at last one which makes the heart run over. You re a star
I met Mrs. Lovinah Odigie in Helsinki Finland recently and we just clicked like we knew each other. We have been in Constant touch since then through whatsapp and I hope one day she will visit Kenya and inspire many women. I pray for you and family and God’s blessings, you are beautiful beyond description, you are my role model.
A well deserved tribute to a caring mother…good one
this is soo woooow! God bless you mrs lovinah! you re indeed amazing
Indeed Mrs lovinah Odigie is a true mother…she has inspired many including me, even if she may nt knw…she’s a jewel and I love her. God bless u and ur awesome family
Lovely writeup Marion.She is a great woman and that reminds me of my mom#tearing
This write described a woman I meet regularly on my way to 21/22 Marina Lagos! Mrs. Odigie is one in a million, recall when I came for my medical almost 8years ago and I had to do a test-her support is positively indescribable.
What an amazing Mrs Lovinah Odigie? I met her in 2006 and I know the family. What I noticed is that she has an uncommon grace.
Well done Marion, God has compesated Mrs Odigie with great children.
I have known mrs odigie for a couple of years now. To be honest she is a gentle woman to the core and she is an amazing woman. I do support her being voted for this. God bless you
what a powerful story. Thank you for sharing with us. #inspired#
I have known the Odigie’s for a very Long time. Mrs Odigie is indeed a very strong woman. I grateful to God for blessing her with great kids. She deserves this and more.
What an awesome story, Inspiring!
keep it up gal. Make Uniben proud.
What can beat the love of a mother? Truly inspiring and touching. May she live long to continue to reap the fruits of her labour even as she is reaping already. Amen.
Mrs Lovinah Odigie is great woman of substance. She deserves this and more.
I’ve only known your mum for a short while, but in that space of time she’s been a lot of encouragement to me. Itohan, you said it just how it is. I pray to God to have the courage of your mother. Her life is indeed worthy of emulation.
I give you and your other sibblings credit for not diappointing her. You guys are yet to appreciate your mum in another dimention. Its only a matter of time.
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