Thursday, November 17, 2011
A Message from Mama . . .
We lost a friend today . . . Bibi “Bad Eyes” a wonderfully old lady we’ve been providing aid to died this morning and we send her off with prayers of thanks for her life, her kind heart which she showed to all of us and her strength. That she lived so very long under such difficult circumstances is a testament to her fortitude and to God’s blessing.
My partner Oddo brought me to Bibi Bad Eyes in August of 2009 when he was made aware of her neglect by family. Homebound by virtual blindness, Bibi (grandmother) was not being tended by grandchildren whom, we assume, anticipated her death so they could take her “room”.
Bibi had lived a relatively successful life and had acquired a home “compound” with many rooms. Each was filled with family or rented out to generate income. As she aged she realized she would need assistance and thus, with no living children, bequeathed her property to her brother and retained a “life estate” on her one room. Her brother immediately died and the property transferred to his children.
When Oddo and I met Bibi, she had been relegated to “the room at the end of the hall”, an unfinished brick structure with, not a STONE floor, but one made of boulders, loose boulders piled in to be used as a sub material for a future floor. It was neither smooth nor level. The room had no window (the opening was covered over with a piece of roofing metal) and poor Bibi stumbled around in the dark, tripping over the unevenness of her floor and balancing her bed and a small stool on the boulders. Oddo and I were ashamed to discover that the rest of the rooms had both windows AND smooth, cement flooring.
We got to work and hired some tradesmen who cemented her floor and installed a window. We visited weekly to check on our Bibi and to pass money and small foodstuffs along to her to ensure she remained healthy. She LOVED meat! When she became ill we got her medical care. She was a grand lady, tiny in stature (less than 100 lbs.) and reminded me of my own Nana.
I visited Bibi often and every time I arrived after my return from Canada Bibi would berate me for having been away too long. She would then insist I sleep at her “house” (I never actually did but not because she didn’t try), and she would “bless” me for my goodness taking my extraordinarily large (for a woman) hands into her tiny ones (they too reminded me so much of my Nana) and pull me to her and then (brace yourself) spit in my face! Definitely not an advisable practice but something she insisted be done and something I simply couldn’t say no to! It was the only thing she had to give me . . . an African custom where an elder bestows an honor upon a subordinate! Oddo, or Grace and I would joke with each other when we visited Bibi and I suggested it was someone else’s turn to be blessed, but it was always me, they argued, who should have the honor . . .
She was a lovely, gentle, kind lady and we did all we could to allow her comfort in her final years. We are grateful to have known her, hope that she rests now and send our prayers of thanks to God and ask that He receive and welcome her into her new home . . .