Today makes it 25 years since Miss Deborah Sule became Mrs Ademu-Eteh.
Pause, and calmly think of that.
How people with different family backgrounds- the son of a village trader and the daughter of a Regimental Sergeant-Major, a Nurse and a Teacher could build such a beautiful life together is something short of a Mystery. How they could have successfully raised Children in this age when young people just do what they want without minding others- it’s almost a mystery.
But for me, it is not a mystery. That’s because I watched it all happen.
My family wasn’t what you would call “rich”, but I never had a sense of being poor. That’s because my parents developed principles that they stuck with. I was never sent home when other children were, for failing to pay their school fees. My Parents made sure all our fees were paid about a month to the next term’s resumption date. As a result, I did not have a lot of fancy toys like my friends, but I NEVER missed a day of school like my classmates did.
We never lived in the biggest houses or rode in the most flashy cars. But my parents made sure we NEVER slept outside or had to sleep in someone else’s house for lack of a place to stay. I never heard about the landlord coming for the rent- I never even KNEW who the landlord was, because the rents were paid on time. There were times when I didn’t get a new phone or Xbox or bicycle- not because they didn’t want to give me, but because we were building a family house, and everyone sacrificed.
Our family wasn’t the perfect TV family- I mean, the type where everyone is always smiling; but I NEVER saw my parents fight or so much as raise their voices at each other. And it means a lot because I knew when the neighbours were quarrelling or fighting. I NEVER heard any insulting words come from my parents’ mouths- either to us as their children or to themselves…not even to neighbours on those occasions when things got heated.
My Parents haven’t always had the same opinion on things- but I’ve seen a perfect example of reaching compromises. My Father believed in having house helps, but my mother complained that the housework was too much for her- cooking, cleaning, taking care of the baby AND going to work. My Dad agreed eventually. I never saw them abuse any of the helps we got- no screaming, no beatings (and I’ve seen a lot of them happen), not even when they stole from us. What I saw them do, was to treat them like they were our sisters. My Dad always said to me “we are stewards of God’s resources. One day God will ask us ‘I sent this person to your house. How did you treat them? Even if God won’t ask, these people COULD have been my children. It’s just a mere accident of birth that YOU were born in my house and THEY were born elsewhere. I’ll treat them the way I want other people to treat my children”.
My parents treated us equally. While we complained that the lastborn received the best attention and got what they wanted more easily than we did, till today I cannot say who the favourite child is. I like to think I’m the one (being the eldest) J but really there isn’t any favourite. We all did housework- my mum always had a roster for chores. When we were younger, if you did the dishes this morning, you’d sweep in the afternoon and then clean the gas cooker at night. As we got older, we were soon assigned tasks for the whole day- if I swept today, I’d wash the dishes tomorrow and have the third day off. I started learning to cook when I was 7 years old. That’s because my parents didn’t give us the “cooking is for only girls” routine I hear other people talk about.
My parents made sure we had the best education available. I remember when I went to senior secondary school in 2004- my father was paying a staggering amount for me to attend the Trinity International College in Ofada, Ogun state. I would later understand that the reason why we didn’t have washing machines and dishwashers back then. My Parents never took summer vacations because most of the money was going to keep us all in school. Often and often again, my father would tell me- “the houses I’m building, the lands we’re buying- they’re not your inheritance. The only inheritance I’m leaving for you my children is the education you can get.”
My Parents pushed us to excel academically. Both Parents actually topped their classes, came out with wonderful results and could produce their results from primary school to show you. My mother even had her notebooks from primary school! I had no choice but to push myself to at least match what they had achieved under tougher circumstances. There were times when we got the cold treatment when our grades lagged- we went to summer classes, they hired teachers to give us home lessons.
My Parents supported our ambitions and hobbies outside of academics. My Mum bought me my first guitar. My Dad paid for my Visual Basic Programming lessons. My Mum gave me my first car. My Dad paid for my courseware in the Certified Internet Web Professional classes. My Mum gave me the money to enter for one Peak Writing Competition when I was in Jss 1. My Dad paid for my French lessons in Jss3.
My parents taught me to love and trust God. I have seen prayer change things, I have witnessed supernatural miracles. I AM a Miracle myself. I used to be a very angry person as a child- up till I was 11 years old. And every night my mother would wake up and pray for me. One day I woke up at midnight and met her agonizing in prayer on my behalf. From that day, change came in a way I never expected. Today, I’m a happy, forgiving person. Prayer, like I learned from my Parents, changes things.
Anyone reading this may say- of course that’s what parents should do. And if you’re thinking like that, you’re right. But I’ve seen other families- absentee fathers, runaway mothers. I’ve seen parents that take no interest whatsoever in their children’s lives; I’ve seen parents that don’t see eye-to-eye with their children.
But the Parents that raised me have shown me what True Love is all about. I’ve seen their sacrifice. I’ve seen them carry each other’s weights. I’ve seen my mother care for my father when he was terribly ill. I’ve seen my Dad cook for us children for a whole year. I’ve seen my mum change her plans because it didn’t fit with my Dad’s. I’ve seen my Dad change his plans because they wouldn’t work well for all of us.
Once, my Dad said to me, “Honestly, I married the best woman in the world”. He was driving. I looked in his face and I saw that he wasn’t joking at all.
I’ve seen them love each other in health and in sickness, in poverty and in wealth, in feast and fallow.
And I am certain that THIS is what I want my marriage to be like.
Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad!