It was a morning like every other except that I was free from school activities for the day, and already mapped all the extracurricular activities for the day and books to read. That was when I noticed the missed calls from my sister. Chizzy says I’m the worst person to call because I almost always never pick up. Just as I was about to return the calls and apologize for the thousandth time about my habit, I saw her message.
Grandaddy is dead.
For context, I had gone home for the weekend. My grandparents had come to visit for grandpa’s eye check-up. I was glad to spend the time with them and listen to my grandma’s stories. This time was different though. My grandpa was a shadow of his bubbly self.
He was still active but had suddenly lost his vision due to hypertension. He also wasn’t as strong as the last time I saw him which was Christmas. That makes sense because he was old. It didn’t make it easier to swallow nonetheless. My mum had told me his condition was deteriorating, but I didn’t know it was that bad till I saw him. I’m glad I got to call him intermittently prior to that time before he came visiting.
Death is such a rude visitor. It takes as it comes, and gives the weird parting gift of grief.
Death is the rude interruption that jolts us back to reality, no matter how often or familiar it gets.
I miss my granddaddy. I wanted to hug him as his young doctor, but I guess that will happen in heaven. when he’s whole because Jesus will fulfill the promise of restoration and I’ll run into his strong embrace.
I’m not sharing this for pity or sorry.
I got to know my grandpa better in bits and pieces as I grew older. Anytime he would come to Lagos with his lol (Igbo title for queen). I loved how he would speak Igbo and English so fluently and he shattered the stereotypes of old people I had in my silly teenage head. One day during his visits, my mum told me to go talk with him. She always encouraged me to write and thought I needed to hear his adventures.
She was right! My grandpa had a lot to share. I wish she told me this earlier. Nonetheless, I’m grateful I finally did and had a documentary video done by my friend as a memoir now.
One thing that always stands out for me with my grandpa was his genuine care for everyone. He wouldn’t want to bother anybody, I never saw him raise his voice too. His diction was so superb and I always popped my head to the corner in awe. The way he mixed his Igbo and English was my highlight.
He also told me how he got his twisted left forearm. It was during the Nigerian civil war. My brave grandpa. Was it the strong nepotism he faced in the navy and how he managed to get a scholarship as the only successful candidate for International Water Development (IWD) in 1964? He was a shining star. I’m grateful for those occasions that made him visit.
My grandpa laughed so heartily even at his old age. I can imagine how he laguther when he was younger. He had a bike he would ride in his 20s and everyone in the neighborhood in Lagos knew him with Suzuki. He rode on it, the chance he got to tell my grandpa he was alive when the civil war broke out.
My grandpa shot his gun every new year. I loved the sound because he always made it ceremonial. With his wrapper firmely tied and his custom mkpisi osisi (walking stick in Igbo) he would wear his black leather slippers and walk majestically to the compound and fire the shots with us shouting, “Happy new year!”
Now I look back at those routines with renewed perspective.
Last year, we celebrated his birthday. Some of his grandkids and kids surrounded him. I still look at that video and smile. His bald upper head was full of wisdom and he always took his time to speak. He had lost his hearing partially due to the war and it progressed as time went by. Yet, he would listen intently and speak back beautifully. I hope to be that astute at his age God willing.
My grandpa loved Jesus. I never got the chance to discuss his convictionbs but it was beautiful to hear that from my grandma.
He loved in how he cared. I remember one day I was preparinb to go back to chool and he reached for his wallet and gave me a crisp bundle of 200 naira notes. I always loved when he did that. His way of showing he cared was personal. He was no selfish man. He would pray for me and hug me tight. I had a chance to hug him tight 4 days before he died. I wish I knew that was the last time I was gonna hug him on earth. I probably would have held on a minute extra.
He said, “ọ iruoma? ( is that Iruoma? in Igbo) Okay bye-bye”. I treasure that moment so much Eze Ndi Igbo 1 of Birni Kebbi. Your doctor would make you so proud I promise!