She desired to die. And God granted her wish. This may sound strange in our world today. But to Lady Bridget Nna- kwudo Igbokwe (nee Onyeguili), there is nothing strange about the desire to die.
In her final moments on earth, when sickness had knocked her down for about two months, she kept saying she didn’t want to trouble her children. She didn’t want to see them going through the problems of nursing her. She didn’t want them to spend so much in the hospital in the name of treating her. She beckoned on death to come. Who else can do this except the one who is at peace with her God.
Apparently, she knew God would grant her wish. Hence, she desired to see me. On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, I took the first flight to Enu- gu to see her. At the airport in Lagos, I called my younger sister, Bibian, who was with her in the hospital and enquired about mama. She told me she couldn’t sleep well and that they were waiting for me.
I landed in Enugu about 8.30 am and headed for Niger Foundation, arguably the best hospital in Enugu. Immediately I got to the third floor where mama was, I noticed some movements suggesting an emergency. The doctors quickly restricted movement into the ward. Some nurses rushed in with oxygen. “This must be an emergency,” I muttered to myself. Less than two minutes after, Bibian rushed out crying.
I became confused. I took permission from the nurse standing sentry at the entrance and entered. Mama lay motionless, with the doctor and nurse still attending to her. The doctor moved his stethoscope from the chest to the neck and back to the chest. And without saying a word, he folded his instrument and left. It was
when the nurse began to remove the drip placed on her wrist that I knew, without being told, that it has happened. At this point, my emotions failed me.
Lady Bridget Igbokwe a.k.a. Omenwa di na akpara ugbo, was peaceful and considerate in death as she was in life. She didn’t like bothering anybody and would rather hurt herself than hurt a fly.
In my childhood years, I observed that she was always asking my father, Chief Sebastian Igbokwe of blessed memory, for money to buy food condiments. One day, I went to her
quietly and asked, “Mama, you do the same work as papa, why do you always ask him for money?”
“My son,” she replied, “don’t worry, you will not understand.” Of course I didn’t understand until I came of age. It was then I realised that she had pledged her own salary to her husband for the greater glory of her family. My dad controlled both his salary and hers. She never bothered about what to wear or the fanciful things most women desire. For her, the success and happiness of her family mattered most. That was how my parents, though poor teachers,
were able to achieve even what some very rich couldn’t.
The painful aspect of this story is that when it is time for them to relax and enjoy the fruit of their labour, they passed on. My father, Chief Sebastian Igbokwe, died January 30, 2012. And now, my mum has followed suit.
Born at Ifite village of Aguluzigbo in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State on December 28, 1938, Bridget Igbokwe taught in many schools both in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State, and at Isuo- fia in Anambra State and retired as a Headmistress Special Class in 1996.
She was a devout Catholic who held different positions in the church and in her community. She was honoured with a Papal blessing from the Holy Father, Pope John Paul 11 on the Silver Jubilee of her marriage in 1992. She was also a 4th degree member of the Ladies of St. Mulum- ba, Nigeria.
The question is, what is the worth of this life? People struggle through life to find food on their table. When it is time to enjoy life, old age comes with attendant sicknesses and death. Is life worth dying for?
Not at all! As the scripture says, vanity upon vanity, all is vanity. Be you a president, a governor, an archbishop or even a pope, all of us have one debt to pay – death.
Therefore, it pays to live a good life; to serve humanity, to be humble and to love your neighbour. Mrs Ig- bokwe epitomised these qualities and never feared death when it came calling. On Thursday, October 29, 2015, this woman of peace will finally carry her happiness down to the grave in peace.
May God grant her soul eternal rest.
– CASMIR IGBOKWE e-mail: email@example.com SMS only:08111813075
Mr. Igbokwe is the Editor-in-Chief of The UNION newspaper