She laid the foundation.
Felicia laid the foundation of love. It was a love that gave. And she did give until she literally gave herself. She gave to God in every way she understood. She gave to her husband Matthew in every way and in everything within her ability. She almost made me believe that the husband in marriage relationship is Numero Uno. But I have since learnt that it is the partnership model that God gave Adam and Eve. I had to unlearn the notion that the husband was always right and cannot be questioned. Now I know 100% accountability and partnership are what make marriage to work and last. But for Felicia, she just gave without reservation.
I used to think that Church was a Sunday-Sunday thing. We always had donuts from Mrs Williams, the Sunday school teacher at the Ebenezer African Church Cathedral, Ogunpa, Ibadan. Then I noticed that some days in the week, Felicia would take her Sunday bag, which had her Bible, the catechism book and the Scripture Union yearly Bible plan and go to Church. She explained to me that Church was not only attended on Sundays. There are important midweek services a Christian should attend. When the time came for me to qualify to receive confirmation before communion from the Bishop, she sent me to the midweek services. Trust I did not attend all the classes but I was qualified for the then Bishop N. A. T. Abon to lay hands on me.
It was from her dressing table I first saw the Radio Bible Class Daily Bread. One early morning during the week before 6am, she sent me to go and waive down a taxi that was going to Mapo Hall because she was going to join other Christians to pray for Ibadan City, for God to reign in that mega city. I understand and know what communion, daily bread and praying for cities mean.
Felicia loved her two older sisters. She had such a bond with them that she cared, respected and loved all their children together as one. When I was growing up and anybody asked for my mother she would answer that it was her eldest Sister (Mama Odo Ona) that was my mum. Not too long I figured out she was my real mother. She demonstrated a rare kind of being there for all her family, which is still quite challenging for any of us to attain. There was a time General Gowon visited Ibadan and we had an Uncle working at the airport, broda Nata. She granted my request to follow him to work so as to catch a closer glimpse of the head of state, which I was able to see few feet away. I’m sure she smiled over there when, years later, I was now privileged to welcome General Gowon and His Pre-eminence Mbang to a leadership program of the Foursquare movement in Nigeria. I am learning and aspiring towards better leadership in my God-given dominion.
Felicia gave sacrificially and made education a priority for me. She encouraged me to read and I have read up to Doctorate level and I am still reading. I was glad and certain she was too over there when I, with the management team met Adebayo Faleti who came to preside at one of the National Communications meetings. Felicia and Matthew had earlier made me read all his published books.
As part of my education, I also learnt discipline; self-control; and other must have virtues a Christian must possess. I remember vividly the day I saw some money belonging to Felicia lying around. Assuming that whatever belonged to her was rightfully mine, I took a coin and used it to buy candy. A friend saw me quietly enjoying the candy and asked how I got it. Innocently I told her how I took from my mother’s money. She reported me to Felicia who immediately showed her displeasure. She gave me some strokes of the cane after which she sat me down and lectured me about stealing, and proper behaviour.
She was neat and always organized. Whether we were at the rented apartment at Omitowoju or our own house with its extensive gardens at Ikirun; things were always in proper place. She taught me how to cook. She allowed us to do the house chores with every other person living with her then. Certainly it was God in her good heart. She was good and kind to everybody in the house and countless visitors that came to our house. I understood through her what hospitality is really about. She genuinely cared for people from her heart and she shared whatever she had with those who needed it.
As I do remember her I am thrilled that God gave me a wife and mother in my Olutoyin, who by His Grace I am living with longer than I lived with Felicia. My wife has consolidated and exposed me to other truths of life that Felicia did not get to do. In Olutoyin, I have found a mother whose feet fit the shoes Felicia left behind. Olutoyin has become a legendary mother: a mother to me and to our children.
While Olutoyin and I recognise the foundations Felicia started, it is an honour for me to celebrate and appreciate the two women in my life; Felicia my mother and Olutoyin my darling wife whom the LORD has bestowed with untainted virtues and who has loved me all the way and still does.
Happy Mothers Day