What my mother does with herself is her business. She is old enough to take care of herself; at 68years old, she doesn’t need me to babysit her or even advice her, since her faculties are intact to the best of my knowledge and I would know because I am a medical personnel, as is my husband too.
My mother raised me and my two sisters, alone. Our dad died over 21 years ago and so, mum was our sole provider; parent, teacher, nanny…she gave us everything and refused to remarry even though I know many of my father’s old friends came seeking to marry her. My mum is a sepesepe woman; she took care of herself so that even today, she looks years younger than 68 going on 69, she could pass for a woman in her mid to late 50s, in fact.
Ok, so I met my husband, we courted, got married. My parents in-law were also decent people but my husband’s mum was terminal at the time I first met her. She had stage 4 breast cancer, in fact, we rushed our wedding because we wanted her in the photos for her son’s wedding, she wanted to see her son get married. She died shortly after. My father-in-law was devastated. Her death rocked him. At that time he was a little over 70, I think.
This happened about four years ago.
Now, I lost my first pregnancy at 26weeks, and this was a pregnancy that didn’t even come easy for me. So when I got pregnant again almost a year after, we decided my mum should move in with us to help me. Eventally, after a difficult 7 and half months, I gave birth to twin boys, thankfully my mum was around for omugwo. She was very helpful, nursing me, taking care of my husband because I wasn’t even able to do much and generally, it was good to see my mum smile again, you know. Yes she took care of herself but after we all finished school, left the house for marriage or work, my mum stopped caring much for herself, so the babies kind of gave her purpose.
I guess she saw us as a project to be accomplished.
Five months after the twin, I had to return to work. I got a nanny but I needed my mum to still be around, because many of the stories you hear about nannies aren’t good. Mum agreed, well, she kind of had no choice, if you ask me. She loved being useful to us and she loved her grand kids
We lived in a four bedroom duplex, there was a maid to make things easier, so what else did she need?
My twins were almost 8 months when we were called and told that my father-in-law fell in his bedroom. Baba couldn’t tell us what exactly happened, just that he felt dizzy and must have fallen without realizing. He was living alone.
My husband and I took the decision to have him come recuperate with us; we thought maybe he was still mourning his wife who passed away a few years before…we thought a change of scene would do him some good.
My mum got along well with my husband’s part of the family…so that’s how baba moved in. We cleared the bedroom downstairs for him and moved the maid up stairs with mum. So mum and maid shared a room, while my babies had a room adjoining ours, that is my husband and I.
It was a large household but hey, we are Africans, that’s how we live. There was no friction, no hassles, I was most happy because my twins had several eyes watching them and I was writing foreign exams to be considered for jobs abroad.
My mother and father in-law got on fine and many times, visitors who came to our house mistook them for a couple, maybe that’s how come I began to notice things.
My mum simply bloomed and my father-in-law thrived. He became a different person; many times when my husband and I would be in bed, we would still hear our parents talking late into the night, laughing…we never thought much, just grateful that they were coping well under the same roof because as you know, they could easily have become antagonistic towards each other, especially my mum, you know?
Mum would go to the kitchen to make special meals for baba; they would often be on the balcony with the twins on their lap, talking about events in the late 70s and 80s; about the schools they went to, about their old friends…you know?
I jokingly told my husband one day, “these two are in love o,” he said, “they can be at love for all I care, they are not blood relatives.”
“Ha! What will people say?”
I asked my mum one time and she looked at me like…”which one concern you?”
I passed my exams and qualified to work and study abroad with my family…since my husband is also a medical personnel, he also applied for placement at a hospital not far from hospital I was meant to start work at…in the UK, of course.
So we moved but before we did, Baba told us he was interested in moving from his old place to a two bedroom apartment somewhere in Magodo; he asked us to give him some furniture, he asked for the tv, now I knew my mum liked the tv, it was the big curved LG tv; so I told baba that I wanted my mum to have it…
Baba said, “it’s still the same, whether you give it to her or you give me.” And he said no more on the matter. I looked to my mum for explanation, she was evasive…I had a thousand things on my mind as we were relocating…their matter was not my priority.
My sister, we have only been in the UK for a months but from feelers I am getting I think my mum and father-in-law are sleeping together.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)