Our Fallen Iroko Tree…

Chief’s Mona Lisa

I am writing through my tears.

I am writing again through courage

I am writing through my deepest grief … I have lost my father of 83yrs to the ages💔.

God called him home on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows ( the day the Catholic Church celebrates Jesus mother Mary receiving the body of her son from the cross)

I have lost the one whose existence added sauce to my life . Now the world seemed more bland without him.

Dad absolutely giddy at receiving this gift of a T-shirt on his 80th birthday ♥️

DH*and I landed in New Orleans airport on that day that he was called home to God. Even the air seemed to stale and lack spice. It was like being given food without any salt.

Typically, our landing at Louis Armstrong Airport is filled with the anticipation for a wonderful family reunion , with my Dad at the center of all the excitements.

My Dad knew how to take his job as a great fun father and grandfather seriously.

Dallas Texas

We called him “Chief” and he was regal in so many ways even though he was also the most humble human I ever met…

Our family trips to New Orleans were filled with Chief planning this or that, all in an effort to ensure that WE all had the very best times! They were organized bus tours , just because- with his clinic staff as our make shift bus driver lol, nighttime boat cruise on the Mississippi River with all his grandchildren, catered local Cajun cuisine at thanksgiving, tourist tours to visit the alligators in the swamps of New Orleans, big fun parties thrown in their home just to welcome their first grandchild, or parties just in celebration of his family coming home.

Every visit to New Orleans was memorable and filled with JOY! .

New Orleans with grandchildren
Dallas with grandchildren
Washington DC with family
Touring Washington DC with grandchildren
Breakfast in Eziachi Nigeria with grandkids
50th wedding anniversary/80th birthday party celebration in New Orleans
South Africa visit with grandchildren
Capetown South Africa with grandchildren
Twins’ First holy communion St. Louis

Memorial Day vacation with family, Florida may 2022
Visiting him at Downman Urgent Care Clinic- a place he absolutely loved and gave his life’s work as a physician
Owerri with grandkids
With his beloved sons in-law

My Dad was truly the bagpiper , always finding tunes to bring us Joy and we , his children and grandchildren enjoyed dancing to the tunes of the pure joy he brought us.

My Dad seemed to have life’s manual in hand- and he lived to the fullest! My mother now reminisces on how it was not unusual that they are the last ones on any dance floor. I always loved how easy going my father was, he fit nicely into ANY room, and always had the right words and mannerisms at ANY time. If there was a cramped car during our full family gatherings, he would volunteer to be the adult sitting in the back of the minivan with the kids, just so everyone can fit for the ride to church or wherever.

Chief was adventurous and carpe diem*ed) the heck outta life .

Dad and I , New Orleans
Dancing completions you daughter Ginika

At 19 yrs old, he left the comfort and familiarity of his homeland in Nigeria, to land on the American shores after he had been awarded a scholarship geared to attract brilliant African minds to the USA in the 1960s.

He embraced his new land and thrived, becoming a surgeon, marrying his bride from his homeland, becoming a father and grandfather , a cultured man, a philanthropist, an author , a man of God and friend to so many.

Dallas 2021

Now, I find myself waking up each morning to the reality that he is no longer with us in the physical form. The pain is so real in numerous moments of the day, when I reach for my phone to make a call to tell him of this experience or the next, only to be reminded of the rude reality that he is gone.

Mexico with grandchildren

Even if he lived another 100 yrs it will not feel like enough, because he embodied so much Love. However, I also know that he was only a gift from God and has returned to the giver of life. Indeed we are all on borrowed time.

A reminder to make the most of our lives on earth.

The condolences keeps pouring in and I often find myself consoling tears on the other phone line.

So many stories of people whose lives he touched, as a physician, an Uncle, a mentor, a friend etc etc.

Celebrating a surprise birthday gathering for him at his clinic
Mardi Gras New Orleans

Now there are the moments that I now choose to call “God-Win” moments where I am convinced of his reunion with the communion of saints and smiling down on me. I am so grateful that I have so many wonderful “ make you smile” memories of my father. Those are my gifts to hold on to now and I hope to keep these always.

I see him in the legacy of his family , his children and grandchildren. He hasn’t left us completely, because his spirit and legacy are alive in us.

The other day, I had a God win moment as I dropped off one of my twins to football practice ( DH dropped the other twin as we always divide and conquer with this parenting gig)…

Anyways as I watched one of our twin walk away from the car in his football gear looking so grown up , hair flowing and handsome, this thought came to my mind and literally spoke out loud to myself – “Well Dad , there goes YOUR legacy “and that was comforting.

Thanksgiving New Orleans
Mexico

The reality is that OUR big Iroko tree who was our healthy , never sick , never demanding has indeed fallen, and all the cover and protection is lifted and we , his mourners are feeling the lack of shade and comfort that this giant of a man provided us all.

We must now try and readjust to our new reality without his strong protection , along with the wonderful qualities that his life added to give our life more sauce, making life so much more sweeter.

Thankfully I am consoled with the belief and reminder that he is now in the communion of saints and will keep his love and care on us now from heaven – for all eternity.

Even in death he keeps blessing us 🙏🏾♥️

Capetown South Africa

Joining the club of those who have lost a parent is such a hard club to be belong to now. Especially when you had an amazing father like I have had all my life . I am now choosing to mourn him while remembering to honor his legacy in those that I have left .

Pastor TD Jakes talks about “ strengthening what remains”even in losses. I am choosing to do just that one day at a time . My tears will flow and at times stain my face, but I will choose to love all that remains , in the example that my father has given me throughout his life .

In my Igbo custom, I was the reincarnation of my father’s mother and so he called me his “ Mama Janet”. A term that has always been endearing and also allowed me space to share so much humor with him, as I would in our later years teasingly call him “ Odi ishi okpukpu” like his sisters nicknamed him.

Dog lover all his life
Florida with grandchildren
Rollercoaster with grandson at almost 80yrs!
Hanging out with Chief St Louis

I am so grateful that we really shared So much laughter and fun together. Chief inspired so many and in his presence, he had a way of making you feel seen, like YOU mattered.

Thank you Dad for always SEEING me I will forever be grateful for your love ❤️

Poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran says, “To live in the hearts of others is not to die”.

Rest in God Chief Omenka, my dearest father🙏🏾♥️

New Orleans La
Lagos , Nigeria
APA conference with his best friend/brother in Law, Atlanta Georgia.
Our wedding 2005
My father daughter dance at our wedding
Seregenti, Tanzania
With his son, Nigeria.
Buffalo, New York
Tree house, St Louis
St Louis MO
Enjoying simple things in life like this ice cream cone on the beaches of Anna Maria island
Adieu Chief Omenka🙏🏾♥️

(*DH =Darling husband)

(*carpe diem is Latin for seize the day )

Champions For Christ

How do you respond to compliments about your children?.. Aww thanks, OR that’s sweet of you to say, OR yes we’re lucky they’re great kids, OR we thank God for his blessings? etc etc

All of these are appropriate response in my opinion, however I especially like to return the praise to GOD.

You see, last week a dear friend was going to be one of the leaders of the music ministry at a local Parish’s VBS (Vacation Bible School) . The theme of the VBS week was Champions For Christ.

This friend had inquired about having our oldest daughter assist her in teaching the VBS younglings. After I wrote her to inform her that she was already committed elsewhere that week, a lightbulb moment occurred to me!

It went something like this in my head…. “Well she couldn’t do it Buhhh , what if our younger three ALL could?.. I mean why not send our twin 12 yr old boys with very little dancing experience, to lead music and dance ministry at VBS?…..

It continued…

“I mean ,sure , they played little Joseph In the musical Joseph and the technicolor dream coats years ago,that ought to count for something right? Besides, they will have their younger sister who is mostly a “grandma” with her 12 yr old wisdom and her fantastic dancethletics ( I know , I know it’s not a real word lol)😉 shepherding them.”

My friend jumped on the idea once I shared it with her, maybe because she was part desperate for helpers to help her teach those random praise songs and dances she was charged with teaching preschoolers to 2nd graders, OR just a lovely friend and a great supporter of our family. I personally vote for the latter.

In any case, she bought and loved the idea and I was thrilled to unglue my kids’ eyes off their video games and TVs and get my three tweens out of the house for a few hours each day that week!

WIN- WIN!!!

A few hours after I dropped them off bright and early , the first morning, ofcourse not before I double checked that no one forgot their deodorant or water bottles. I began settling into my clinic when I got the most lovely surprise.

It was a text , filled with compliments for my kids! I have to be honest with you , my dear readers..I was glowing internally, because in my humble opinion… As parent , OUR Children can truly be OUR biggest compliment in life .

Throughout the week, the compliments kept pouring in, at times extended from people I hadn’t even met! , who told my friend, how much our children were blessing them, and how well behaved they were … HEAD SWOON☺️

Then came this layer of awakening, …I began to wonder whether I was surprised by the compliments?.. not entirely. Then I wondered if I too , give my children the evidence of my TOTAL belief in THEIR abilities consistently?.. hmm🤔. The truth is that as a mother , I find myself charged with DUTY.. duty to raise good citizens of the world. This is a duty I take very seriously, heck I even make my living (as a Child and Adolescents Psychiatris) helping others raise good citizens for our world.

However sometimes, DUTY can drown us from perspective. We forget to be PRESENT to all the good that is already around us, all the yield that our DUTY is already producing. We keep focusing on doing more and more, including inspecting for water bottles and double checking that deodorants have been applied lol.

It could be like missing the forest for the trees!

Well, this week’s Catheletics VBS at Incarnate Word Parish , reminded me to be MINDFUL of my yield as a mother . I am very grateful to be raising young citizens of the world whose inner light shines bright, even when I am not right there MOTHERING them. I am also grateful that they seem to be humble to their abilities too.

Therefore , I have received those compliments graciously AND return the praise to the one who made ALL of this possible…GOD!

Ultimately, VBS ended with a bang! Catchy songs and dances were learned by so many younglins ( and hopefully by some young at heart folks too), my lovely friend and her colleagues, did a fantastic job leading an amazing music ministry at VBS , our children got to spend more time together and grew closer this week – an unexpected gift all around!

I must say, I had hoped the week would go well, however I mostly trusted without any real evidence that our kids will emerge as real Champions for Christ. This was total bonus!

Of course they’re not perfect (yet)lol, but they danced , served as techno guy for audiovisual and bogeyed for Christ, all while mentoring young ones in the process.

I marvel at how the orderer of the universe knows EXACTLY what we need and when. We certainly ALL needed the JOYS and WINS that came from this week’s VBS.

My DH * and I very proud of our kid’s hard work and service to others this week.

Dear reader, when was the last time you took a chance and leaped with trust? How do you respond to compliments of yourself or your children , if you have them? Where is your perspective taking lens these days? I sure hope it’s PRESENT to all the blessings around you , versus muddled with DUTY.

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences . Please feel free to also “follow” by finding and clicking the follow icon, makes it easier to share these musings with you and ensures that you can get notifications on future blog posts and not miss out !💕

*DH (Darling husband)

Easter Triduum

“The three 24-hour periods of the triduum include the major feasts for all four days at the heart of the Easter celebration: the evening feast of Holy Thursday (also called Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday” (Google search)

I am a Catholic Christian. Part of my faith practice is to attempt to participate in the triduum which occurs during the Holy Week – the week leading up to Easter /Resurrection Sunday.

I used the word “attempt” because this year , it was mostly hoping to wrap up a late clinic in time to make it over with DH and the kids, to church to participate.

Holy Thursday is most likely my FAVORITE celebration of the liturgical year! If you ever have a chance to experience this ( Incase you haven’t ) , I would highly recommend this.

Growing up in West Africa, Holy Thursday Aka Maundy Thursday was one of the highlights of the liturgical year.

This is the day the church celebrates the last supper , while our Jewish brothers celebrate Passover.

The evening is solemn and beautiful . There is a real sense of Christ as one of us, sharing a meal with his disciples, then practically begging them to stay up and keep watch with him, for his hour of death was near. The sleepy eyed disciples likely startled at the ambush by the soldiers.

So much action playing out .. Judas doing his “ thing” with the betrayal kiss, Peter with his hot temper cutting off a Roman soldier’s ear in defense of Jesus, and getting admonished in real time by Jesus. I mean LOTS of action happening that night indeed ! The drama continues into the next day when finally Jesus takes his last breath on the cross .. IT IS FINISHED!

Jesus conquered death in order that you and I may live eternally with God. What an incredible expression for LOVE!

Fast forward to 2022. I am a mother of four. I rush to get my clinic notes completed and head to mass at 7 pm with my family. We gather.. we made it just in time to occupy the last pew on the side of the church.

I finally catch my rushed breath to center myself on what I am experiencing. It truly is a beautiful night. The scent of the incense fill the air . There are many priest and deacons preceding over this very special mass, much like I recalled in my mind’s eye as a child in Nigeria. The Altar always seemed so full of priest and seminarians back then , all dressed in their white habit . They look so Holy.

Then come the part where we , the church congregation are invited to wash each other’s feet , just like Jesus did to his disciples. A sign of love and service.

Traditionally, DH and I would wash each four children’s feet when they were younger . However this year, we decided to try something different.. our twin boys took turns washing each other and our two daughters washed one another’s feet.

The idea is you go up to the altar where the wash basin is set up , take turns showing LOVE and SERVICE to one another as you pour warm water on their bare feet and then dry their feet afterwards. You may choose to say a prayer of thanks for them or forgive them a hurt , whichever the case may be.

Watching our children gift each other in service was tear jerking. Of course, I must admit there was that mother hen part of me , that had to refrain from worrying about whether they were doing it right. Honestly there is No right or wrong , it was just ALL in the doing 💕

Twins washing each other’s feet❤️
Twins washing each other’s feet❤️

Personally, I love getting to wash DH’s feet because I get to literally SERVE him, which is something he is most deserving of , for more reasons than I care to blog about right now. You see , because I think one of his LOVE LANGUAGE is acts of service , therefore, we his family, are great benefactors of his service on a daily basis!

When it came time for him to wash my feet, DH seems to forget we are still at the Altar of God o lol. He’s gently caressing my feet while he whispers loving words to me. My soul is melting in this love that I’m receiving and giving!

The washing of the feet command is one of the few acts that Jesus asks us to repeat in memory of him… what a LOVE jackpot!

How do you celebrate leading up to and on Easter? Please feel free to share your traditions so others may learn.

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences . Please feel free to also “follow” by clicking the follow icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts💕