By a stroke of luck, I found takara’s residence without much trouble. Thankfully, it was not a market day and she was home taking care of her mom. Upon arrival, I was welcomed with a smile and a warm embrace; the kind that soothes your soul and makes all your sorrows disappear. You kept your promise, you came, she exclaimed. Of course, I did, I responded, I was not going to leave without saying good bye. I could have held on to Takara for a million years, but I was a man on assignment and I needed to be heading home. Hers was a humble abode, what we will refer to as a thatched hut. There wasn’t much to it, but she proudly invited me indoors to see her mom.
Ahhh, that’s where you get your pretty smile from; you look just like your mom, girl from Bagabaga. Without much ado, I got close to Takara’s mom who was seated at what looked like a semblance of a dining table and I thanked her profusely. Thank you, Alice, for raising such a beautiful daughter. She saved my life and I owe you both a lot of gratitude. I hear you are not feeling too well so I’m wishing you a speedy recovery. I will be praying for you and I trust that you will get better. Yes, indeed, she retorted, I feel better already, and I should be back on my feet in a matter of months. My daughter has been amazing, and I am truly blessed to have her.
Okay Alice, I will be leaving now, perhaps we shall meet again some other time. On my way out, I turned to Takara and said, I know you don’t need my help and you certainly don’t need any saving but please accept this money as a token of my appreciation for your time and influence. It’s all I can give you now and I implore you to accept it. Here is my business card as well. Feel free to contact me at any time for anything and I PROMISE to be there for you as long as I live. It dawned on me then that she still could not comprehend the magnitude of her impact on my life, indeed how could she, since she was only being herself. We said our final goodbyes and I began the 8-hour drive back home. In that moment, all I could ponder upon was my mom. I was not concerned about any business dealings or how much money I stood to gain or lose, all of that was relegated at this moment.
It was a trip that never seemed to end but sure enough, I got through 8 hours of intense “emotional labor” to make it home. Not once during that journey did it occur to me to eat, the burden and uncertainty of what awaited me filled me up. Alas, I knocked frantically at the front door of my mother’s house. I felt like a stranger in a place that should have been home. Everything was different; from the living room arrangement to the bedroom and the general décor. Nothing was the same anymore. I did not even recognize the person at the door and neither did they. They asked who I was, and I bowed my head in shame as I identified myself. Where is my mother I asked? She is upstairs in her room, she is not expecting any visitors but if you insist you are her son, you can go right ahead. Oh boy, I hurried up a long flight of stairs and in no time, I was standing next to my mother’s bedroom door. This was the decisive moment, the reason I had made the trip, and the same reason I left the leadership summit 2 days ahead of schedule. Do I knock now, how would she feel, how does she look like, would she be happy to see me, would I be able to contain my emotions? O God, I didn’t think coming home would be this difficult. After what felt like a decade of self-dialogue, I took my chances and slightly prodded open her door. Like the proverbial prodigal son, I had come to my senses and there was no turning back.
Who is it, she asked in a rather feeble voice? Mom, it’s me, your son. Speak up a little louder, I can barely hear you, she said. In a raised voice, I repeated myself, Mom, it’s me your son. Tears welled up in my eyes and my voice began to shake as a drew closer and closer to her bedside. Mom was not one to be asleep at that time of the day and I was getting nervous. I inched closer still and she turned her face towards me. For the first time in 6 years, I locked eyes with my mom and it was not a pretty sight.
A rude awakening befell me, and a cold shiver run down my spine even though it was blazing hot outside at that time of the year. Mom did not look anything like I remembered, she had lost a lot of weight and she looked darker, and frail. The two things that remained unchanged were her smile and voice (although faint).
Mom, what’s going on, what happened to you? Why do you look so different and frail?
I found out that when mum called me 6 years ago to ask for money, it was because she had not been feeling well for a period. She hid her ailment from everyone else and tried to manage it on her own until she run out of funds and zest. Doctors had been running a series of expensive and excruciating tests and were yet to diagnose her. On the day she called, she had been informed that they will need to conduct more tests because some of her results came back inconclusive. By this time, she was “broke” and needed help. She did not want to tell me over the phone that she was ill, and she assumed that I would at least be willing to give her some money without much hesitation. When I yelled at her and refused to return her phone calls the ensuing days, she resorted to an ingenious plan. First, she sold her priced possessions, and when that did not suffice, she proceeded to sell some furniture she no longer needed. That’s why the house looked different.
I did not want to ask if my older siblings had been supportive towards her because I was guilty as charged in the court of human opinions. Surely, “a pot cannot call the kettle black” so it was best to remain silent and focus on what to do next. I think, my mom has telepathic powers because in that very moment, she could decipher what I was thinking. It’s been a long road my son, and they are doing the best they can to take care of me. Mom, but who is the lady who answered the door? Well, she is my helper. I’m too weak to perform certain daily activities so your siblings found me this great person to help me. She has been here for the past 5 years and has been an excellent care taker. Sorrow and regret engulfed me, and I couldn’t help but wrap my arms around my mom on her sickbed. Oh mom, I’m sorry, forgive me, I’ve been foolish, I am here now, and I will keep my promise to you. Remember how I said I would take care of you when I get older? Yes, she said with a smile. Well, I’m here now and I’m never going to leave. Thank you, my son, thank you. My mon was not one to hold grudges, but I did not expect to be forgiven so freely and so quickly. I knew you would come back home, I never stopped praying for you and I asked God to give you the opportunity to see me one last time before I die.
Don’t say that mom, why would you think of such a thing? Well, the doctors say I have advanced stage breast cancer and my chances for survival don’t look too good. I have already completed series of radiation and chemotherapy and I still have more to go. I’m getting tired by the day but I’m doing the best I can to remain hopeful. You don’t have to worry about anything mom, you will receive the best care now and you will live a comfortable life. In that moment, by her bedside, I leveraged all the social connections I had to secure a next day appointment with a renowned breast cancer specialist. I never left her bedside and I held her arm through the night. I will never let you go mom, I will never let you go. I kissed her goodnight on the cheeks and off she went into dreamland. The next day, I canceled all my social engagements, and delegated a lot of my responsibilities. I helped mom get dressed up and off we went for the appointment. The specialist told me mom’s case was dire however there were new medications and treatment options now available and she would make a great candidate. Please sign her up for those, I exclaimed in excitement, and make sure you give mom the best care.
It’s been 3 years now and I have made peace with my older siblings; don’t ask me how it happened but it was a rather humbling experience. I’m happy to report that mom is doing much better now, she has regained some of her strength and her hair and I have been by her side at every appointment. I know I can’t take back the years I lost but I can make the most of what we have left. I consider myself exceptionally lucky to be with her on this health path. Mom is not exactly out of the woods yet, but the prognosis is looking good so far and we are keeping our fingers crossed. Remember how earlier I frantically got down on my knees and prayed for a miracle? Well, I prayed again in that same position but this time, I looked up to the skies with my hands held high, a smile on my face and all I could say was:
“Thank you God for answering my prayer, I’m grateful
Thank you for the miracle of new treatments, I’m grateful
Thank you for forgiveness, I’m grateful
Thank you for life, help me make the best out of it”
You might we wondering about my business undertakings? Surprisingly, that is going on well to. Thanks to Takara and my experience at the leadership summit, I realized I didn’t need to control everything or be in the limelight to succeed so I have since restructured my operations, delegated my responsibilities, and hired highly qualified persons. O, what I wouldn’t give to turn back the hands of time.
Come to think of it, it’s been 2 years since I heard from the girl from bagabaga. We spoke a few times after our last encounter and she mentioned her mom was not doing as well as she had hoped. I assured her that my offer to help her was still open and that she could call at any time for anything. I do miss her and I hope to take a trip down to bagabaga soon, but for now, she will forever be in my heart and mind, for she saved me many times over and I am the better for it.
MORALE OF THE STORY No one is promised tomorrow so let’s maximize the time we have now because once its gone, you will never get it back. Not everyone gets the opportunity of a 2nd chance so grab life at the 1st chance and be thankful you did.
“True poverty then is not the lack of financial resources but rather the absence or shortage of meaningful and loving relationships. So cherish what you have and don’t let squabbles or pride get the best of you”.