As you can see in this picture, on this faithful day, I was departing Jacob Town, Paynesville, Montserrado County, Liberia, after a two-week visit. I had gone to see my sick parents who sensed that there was an urgent need for us to meet. Whatever they feared at the time was only known to God, but my sixth sense told me not to relent on this call.
Wednesday, September 2010, while on my regular break at work in Minnesota, I had called to greet the woman who nurtured me, the woman who cleansed me as a child, the woman who braved poverty to put smile on my face, the woman who washed and dried my dirty clothes simultaneously just so I am not late for school-while other kids were wearing new clothes, the woman who did not discriminate among her kids and that of others, the most cherished woman in the entire Bamba family, Mamasay Lassana Dumuya.
During our conversation on that remarkable September day, she sounded natural and healthy. I could feel the warmth of her breath through the phone, I could literally sense her smile on the other end of the receiver. As usual, she was very energetic and cheerful, but on this day, there was something behind her excitement that she wanted me to know.
During our conversation, my mother told me something that stuck with me forever, “N’vator-ma, all of your friends wish to have document to stay in America, and God has blessed you with that, why don’t you come and see us? Death doesn’t sound like thunder.”
As I reflect on my mom’s parable, two verses of the Quran came to my mind, “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” Quran 17:23
The second verse was even more touching, it said, “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they bring me up when I was young.’” Quran 17:24
In response to my mother’s call, and as a sign of love and respect for her on that same Wednesday, I did not relent. Without telling her anything, I purchased a two-way ticket from Delta Airlines and to their surprise, by Saturday of the same week, I arrived in Monrovia and notified them when I was 5 minutes away from home.
My parents were in tears when they embraced me. While in the comfort of mom’s hug, I had to holdback my tears, my parents weren’t the way I had left them, they were so sick that I cried secretly that evening.
The following day, God performed miracle. The woman who had always received assistance out of bed was walking around the house without help. Even the neighbors could not believe what they were seeing. She insisted on cooking the meal for that day for me to eat, but looking at her condition, I sat by her side while she instructed my sister on how to prepare the meal for “N’vator-ma,” me, her father’s namesake.
After my two-week visit came the most challenging part of our lives, how to say Good-bye. Mom and dad were in tears, followed by some bystanders. Whatever they were thinking was only known to God, but their tears broke my heart, and I could not holdback. The last goodbye between a mother and her son, a father and his son, is as painful as death, especially when they hint you that their conditions are not improving.
As I turned my back in preparation for departure to the United States, I felt chill engulf my body in its entirety, with a teary face, I prayed to God to grant us another opportunity to meet. My head was spinning with all kinds of thoughts, but I made it safely to Minnesota.
Few days later, I received words that my parents condition had worsen. I again purchased three tickets from Delta Airlines and sent my wife and two children to see my parents in Liberia. My mother’s condition was worse than ever, she could not speak. When my kids visited her, she was unable to move. With tears slowly rolling down from the corner of her eyes, she managed to shake my kids hand with a brief smile.
On January 8, 2013, a day after my son’s birthday, which was exactly seven days after their arrival, I received a call from my brother at about 04:00 am central time that, “To Allah we belong, and to him we shall return, God has taken our mother away.” Again, on February 8, 2013, I received another call from my brother, this time he said, “To Allah we belong, and to him we shall return, God has taken our big sister away.”
On Memorial Day of the same year, my father-in-law was pronounced dead. And on June 17, 2014, my father died followed by my grand-pa on July 25, 2014. Before the end of the year, 9 members of my family had died. Non related to Ebola or what-so-ever.
My dear brothers and sisters, I am aware that most of you have gone through difficult periods in life; some may wonder why write this tribute, but the moral behind it is to at all times respond to the calls of our parents, especially our mothers.
As mentioned in the verses above from the Quran, it is our duty to respect our parents at all time, regardless of your geographic location. The importance of our parents is never known to us until they are gone forever; this is when we shift gear into the “If I had known” stage of life, by then it is too late to act. Let us give the their flowers while they are alive.
Even though I had gone to see my sick parents who sensed that there was an urgent need for us to meet, but I am blessed by God to have acted instantly. Whatever they feared at the time was only known to God, but my sixth sense told me not to relent on this call, and I did not.
As a believer, I pray that God forgive their sins and rest their souls in perpetual peace and happiness. I pray that our lives will equally be filled with love, peace and happiness, and that God protect us and our respective countries from Ebola. Rest in peace all, and mom, thank you for sounding that SOS-call, it was really timely. Now I know what it means to be without parents.