FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, March 1, 2019
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THEM AMERICAN KIDS, WHEN THEY'RE GROWN, THEY'RE GONE

ello Lola. How are you? How's work?" Mama asked as she always did when she called her daughter. Though Lola was now an adult living in her own apartment two states away, she couldn't resist, "Have you eaten?"

"Hey Mom! I was just waiting for you to call to remind me before eating. Actually, I haven't eaten since your last call!" Both mother and daughter laughed.

Though none of her four kids called or visited, Mama called each regularly to ask after their health. But today, she was calling for herself. "Em, Lola," she began tentatively. You know I've been complaining about my car…" She paused to get a response from the other end. Getting none, she continued, "Well, it has broken down and the mechanic said it would cost $5,000 to put in a new transmission and wiring."

"Oh, how sad," Lola commiserated." Her mother took courage to come out with her request.

"I was advised to buy a new car instead of wasting money on repairs. Please, my dear, could you co-sign my car note. You know, I'm good for it. I made payments on this car on time every month until last year when it was paid off." She provided her credit history and her work capability. Truth be told, she was a hardworking woman, holding two or three jobs at a time. She paid her bills and stayed as much out of debt as possible.

There was silence at the other end. "Lola, are you there?'

After a heavy sigh, Lola responded, "Mom, you know I'm keeping my finances clean right now so I can buy a house next year. I can't afford to have any dings on my credit score…" She refused her mother's request. No amount of cajoling swayed her stance.

Mama was shaken. Yorubas say, "Eni omo sin, lo bi'mo."* Did this mean that she hadn't birthed children? None of her four cared, none saw to her welfare, none looked out for her future. Could it be that the kids that she'd labored for all these years won't even repay her? Would they even notice if she died talk less of bury her?

After a period of depression, she made notes to self:

  • Get a life. As an African woman, she was trained from birth to serve others. First parents then husbands and children. While her husband had wandered off in midlife, she'd lost herself in her children. Now, even they were gone. She needed to reconnect with herself.

  • Make and keep friends, of all ages - family is anyone who cares. They are not necessarily related by blood. Surround yourself with those who care about you and you'll not walk alone.

  • Get disability and life insurance to cover your costs in the event of major illness or death.

  • Write out the plans for your funeral so that whoever cares and picks it up and run with it.

  • And if it's not too late, raise your children to care about you. Teach them to love you for yourself and not what you can do for them. Befriend them, particularly as they grow older. Be cool to hang out with.

(*Can be interpreted in two ways - The person who's given a befitting funeral by his/her children is the one who bore worthwhile kids. OR the person whose kids take care of him/her is the one who's born kids). Stay tuned for Part 2: Them Immigrant Parents can drain you.

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