In March, we’re bringing to you letters written by women to women they love, miss, cherish or just remember. To celebrate the support women continue to show each other, this is #ToHER.
From: A woman who wants to be a better gist partner than her mum
To: Patience, her mum
I’m writing this letter to you to reminisce on our 53 years together. Since you passed in 2018, I’ve missed having someone to talk to. I miss having someone that understands me.
P.S: Calling you Patience is strange, so I’ll switch to “mum” now.
I always knew we’d be friends, mum. You trusted me — from the start. When I was five, you trusted me to clean and watch my little sister. When I was 11, you trusted me to watch over the five more kids you had. And you tried your best to make sure I wasn’t stressed. Before you’d leave for work at 6 a.m., you’d make breakfast so I’d only have to think of lunch or dinner. At night, you’d ask about my day. “My small mama, wetin una do today?” you’d say. And I’d proceed to pour out my frustrations. No matter how tired you were, you’d listen to every bit of my rant. You made it easy for me to become your friend.
Remember how angry I was about Bri storing her clothes for days? You laughed about it so long and hard, that I couldn’t help but join you. You knew how to get me happy, and I wish I did more to know about you. Because now that I think about it, mum, you never let out your frustrations during that time. I didn’t know what a day in your life was like even though you listened to every narration of mine and reminded me not to take life so seriously. I wish I could have our special times alone again, if only to ask you, “Wetin you do today?”.
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My favourite memory as a teen was following you to your store. I was always a quiet kid, so you were my safe space. While the other kids went off to play after school, I just wanted to be at your store. Call me a mama’s girl or whatever, but now that you’re gone, I’m glad I stayed to help you count the gallons of palm oil you didn’t sell.
Did you love our walks back home? Because I did. I got to hear you talk about yourself a lot more. Things like not knowing when you were born. Your parents only remembered the year 1951.
Knowing more about you made me feel closer to you. You told me about meeting dad. How he lived so close to you but not realising until the random day he said hello. Of course, you had to add the part about waiting till marriage to be intimate. All your gist made it easy to forget I was quite the loner as a teen. When I went to university, it stayed that way. We didn’t have phones to keep in touch, but we’d write letters to each other every month.
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Even in adulthood, you were my closest friend. I got married, had two kids, and we became closer. You stayed with me during my pregnancies and made it so much easier. With my first — Ebere — you indulged my cravings for ewa aganyin. Every morning, you’d wait outside for the woman selling it. With my second — Nduka — you stayed with me when I found out he had down syndrome. You let me cry on your shoulders and comforted me.
Thank you for being my mum and friend when I needed it the most.
Now that you’re gone, I’ve had to learn to talk to other people. Mostly my daughter though. She’s 23 now, and I’m trying to be her gist partner. You would have been way better, but I’m trying.
I won’t talk about the moments you were sick because you deserve to be remembered as my rock. This is one last letter to you. Only this time, you won’t be the one reading it. Thank you for 53 years of love and friendship — I can’t fit it all into a page.
PS: Beyond the gist, I miss eating your special corn moi-moi.
Forever in my heart,
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