My Father and Mother got married last year. I mean they did a church wedding last year after being together for thirty plus years. In the wedding ceremony all their children, me and my siblings were asked to give mini speeches to our parents on their wonderful occasion. I didn’t really grasp what my siblings said because I was fixated on what I was going to say. I told them that we as their children are lucky because most children don’t get to see that part of their parent’s lives.
I lived with my parents for close to thirty years and during that time I have seen a lot and experienced a lot of ups and downs as I observed their lives together and I have just one question to each of them. To my mother I would like to ask “Why did you stay?” And to my father I would like to ask “How did you manage?”
My father I would say is a real father, not that the rest are not. I remember the times I got sick, my dad would be the one to take me to hospital and would do all he could to pay the bills. Now the bills would be outrageous in six figures most of the time and one question lingered in my mind every time I went to hospital – How do you manage? That time there was insurance and was covered under my dad’s insurance until the age of 21.
My dad retired from work, he was working for an NGO in a position where he would get paid really well, but a time came when he had to leave work. He tried establishing a couple of businesses but failed. I guess he just wasn’t cut out for business after all. But one time during this period, we traveled up country for my sister’s wedding. My parents pulled all the resources they had for this trip and we managed to go. We are six children in total, plus my parents making that eight and the driver who was working for my dad in his transport business then… bringing the number to nine.
Everything was good with me until a day after we came back to Nairobi. I got so sick I literally wished for death. My dad was broke from the trip and a couple of other unplanned events that happened up country that forced us to stay a few extra days to solve. I was in so much pain and needed immediate medical attention but there was just no money for that, so I just writhed in pain and moaned, screamed, pretty much did anything that could bring a sense of relief even if it was just for a few seconds.
My dad took me to a hospital that was nearby where we stayed, and I thought that I was going to get admitted which was the norm, but I didn’t because the money my dad got – God knows from where was just enough for consultation and getting pain relief medicine. This medicine is so strong; I have been told that it’s right up there next to morphine. If you have done medicine – maybe the name pathedine rings a bell. Now the medicine gave me relief from pain and it even induces light headedness, and I saw the relief on my dad’s face when I stopped crying. He meant well but the pain was being caused by something else.
Eight hours later the pains came back and it seemed that it was twice as bad. My mother prepared water for me to bathe, which I did with a lot of difficulty and after what seemed like a forever bath my dad took me to Kenyatta Hospital. I have dreaded this hospital because of all the things I hear about it, nurses being rude, people sharing beds and even sleeping on the floor, neglect and the list goes on. This was the first time that I have ever been brought to this hospital.
My doctor took one look at me and asked my father… “Do you have a death wish for your son? You should have brought him in earlier, and the pain relief medicine made everything worse because you are covering smoke where there is fire burning.” I knew what he meant, but again I understand what my dad was doing. My father just wanted to relieve me of my pain even if the repercussions were dire because to him that is what a father does. To cut the long story short I got well after a couple of weeks and yet again I don’t know to date where My dad got the money from to get me out.
My mother on the other hand stayed. She stayed with my dad through the roughest times and the best times of their lives. Earlier during my childhood, my dad lost his job at a car manufacturing company. He stayed out of a job for 5 years or more. My mom supported us through the most amazing ways – now that I think of it. My mom worked for the government so she didn’t get paid as well as my dad, yet she pulled all the resources she had and opened up a hot lunch business. She would come to my school to sell food to the students who lived far from school and didn’t want to carry lunch to school.
The she would also make what we called “cools” which is just frozen juice if you mix it right, put them in small plastic bags and kids loved this stuff. We sold them for a shilling, and some for 50 cents a piece. This business did very well, she even taught us how to make them and we would all help in doing this every two days. People tried this and failed because they got the mixture and ingredients wrong, but I say God was watching what was happening with our family. The ends were met but barely, plus my mother had to go to the office also to work. Sometimes I think she is a super woman. She stayed with my dad through the thick of things.
I remember times when things would be so bad between them; my mom would get so frustrated and even want to leave my father. She would talk in between tears of her frustrations and we were sure that we would wake up in the morning to find her gone, but instead she would still be there. I would give her a week, a month, six months but every morning, every day she was there and I wondered why.
Thirty years later they walk down the aisle and say vows to each other – even after all that they have been through and know of each other. Then we have our generation where we have ideas and notions about marriage. We watch the media, we see people we know who have great weddings, wonderful beginnings but somehow in their later years we hear them going through divorce and separation. Why? What was the point of being together in the first place if later you were going to separate just because he lost his job? Just because you have different opinions? Just because you fought?
Majority of our parents have seen worse than what I have written here but still stayed together. What are we missing out on? I was talking to a friend and she told me the first thing that comes to mind when she thinks of a perfect marriage is her parents. If you ask me, my parents marriage is not perfect, it’s not world class, it’s not ideal but it works for whatever reason. I want a marriage like that, we will fight, have hard times, things will look as if we reached the end, but I swear on my life that just like my dad I will manage as a father to my children and husband to my wife and do everything possible to make sure that they get what they need. I pray I will get a wife who even though she doesn’t understand and has reached the end of herself, at least she will stay no matter what.
Ephesians 5:22 – 27
Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the Husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.