She was not just some random Aunt.
Despite the fact that she was only 14 years older than me, she was my mother-figure of sorts. She helped raise me since I was 13 years old, 4 years after my own mother unexpectedly and tragically passed away. She was my Mother’s youngest and closest sister. In a way I resumed that role with her in my adult years.
It was with her, along with my father and brother, that I arrived in Morgantown West Virginia from Nigeria in 1985. For most of my life she was my only link to home (at least as it related to being a Naija woman)
It was exactly 3 years ago during one of my many visits to her home in southern California that I created AfroMartha. It was there in the guest room of her sprawling estate that I introduced myself to the world for the first time on this blog.
Like most family relationships, ours was a complicated one. In spite of the ups and down, we were close. Whenever either one of us was in a position to help the other, we never hesitated, not even for a second. In recent years, our relationship really solidified as an adult to adult relationship.
Although I was not able to be present at the last moment, I was able to spend time with her just 2 weeks before she passed away. The unfortunate occasion became a reunion with my long lost cousins from as far away as London. We reminisced about old times, and even broke out some Yoruba hymn books and sang long forgotten songs. We skyped to London and Nigeria with relatives who could not be present, but wished to be a part of it all, even if just one last time. Those moments are precious to me and I will never bee replaced.
No matter how prepared you are for that moment when you get the phone call, it is still surreal.
On April 17, 2013, 1 month after her 55th birthday, and 32 years and 7 days after my Mother, my beloved Aunt departed this world.
She fought long, and she fought hard, even to the bitter end. I believe she made it that far just by the sheer force of the will of her indomitable spirit. As with any challenge she faced, she was not backing down. She simply ran out of steam, and in the end, she was simply taken.
She leaves behind her sweet and wonderful husband of 20 years and 2 lovely daughters.
Although she was gone from us way too soon, I am happy she is no longer suffering and has moved on to a better place. I will continue to miss her.
Rest well, Auntie.