(Back in the day ☺️)
Mommy, as we always called her had suggested where my dad would find a helper. She wanted her husband to be happy even in her absence. She wanted us her kids to be surrounded by love and for some reason she was convinced we would be loved.
Unfortunately I can’t place the exact unfolding of events perfectly or chronologically after my mums demise. But I remember from the place my mommy had suggested we get a helper we did get one. Her name was Grace. Yes what are the odds. My first name is Grace.
Grace was a beautiful short dark skinned girl maybe in her twenties who had a somehow short temper. It was probably triggered by my extremely playful tiny brothers. My two younger brothers were terribly naughty and energetic. Grace had to chase them around the compound and house to have them take a bath. She would almost cry every-time because dealing with children that you have not birthed whose mother just died and a compound full of eyes watching you as an outsider waiting for you to slip just one bit and their judgment would befall on you like you asked for it.
I now can imagine it wasn’t easy for Grace and If I were her in that busy compound always full of workers I would have just packed my belongings and left. I went to boarding school and when I came home during school break Grace was gone.
She couldn’t do it. And in all understanding and honesty I get it. Like I said I think I would have left us too.
Grace leaving didn’t make her a less amazing woman. She just chose her battle and chose herself and her sanity. Tell me how many people you know who would voluntarily come into a family with five little kids, a widower and “crazy” extended family in the same compound and give their all to the kids who are still expecting their mommy to show up and they get grumpy because she doesn’t and you are the new face they see instead. It is their first time to deal with death and they still don’t understand it.
Grace leaving was a blessing in disguise. I’m home from school and I’m introduced to this beautiful gorgeous dot.com-like lady who seems so young yet very mature, fierce, no nonsense yet very rooted and hardworking woman as Eva. To be honest I don’t remember who even introduced me to her. Just came home and she was the one who replaced Grace. Also from the same area Grace was.
I won’t deny the truth. I liked Eva instantly. I think we all did. Her spirit felt right with us. I would take walks with her to the shopping center and some people thought she was my mom, some who didn’t know me would ask if she was my elder sister. Sometimes I lied she was. It felt good. In school when she visited my friends would just talk about how lovely she looked, ask me why mum looked so young like she wasn’t supposed to be. Remember I had never talked about my dead mum.
So guys every other school break I would come home and things would be different from last time. There was always a development. Gradual and subtle. Eva graduated to auntie and held that title. Dad asked us to not disrespect her by calling her by her name. We thought well fair enough. She deserved it.
I remember we took turns in reporting one another to our dad if one of us called Eva by her name and not auntie. Dad would sternly remind us to call her auntie. Funny enough Eva never demanded anything of us. She responded to whatever name we called her. She treated us equally. My mommy’s shoes were almost a perfect fit for her. She was kind. She juggled everything the best she could. Us, housework and the farm. She invested her savings on us too. I never once heard her complain.
Wait I forgot to tell you that she had to learn our language. She comes from another ethnic group and since she was living and dealing with us she taught herself our language. She kept her “Kimeru” accent but it didn’t bother her and we understood each other anyway. Eva disciplined us her way and taught us values a mother teaches her children. She didn’t have a short temper but if you persistently tried her goodness and patience you would have had it with her. Ask around.
Some years down and Eva graduated yet again to mum. This was hard for all of us but it wasn’t up for discussion. My dad meaning the best yet not explaining it to us started asking us to call her mum. I struggled with this but eventually mum stuck. We were also very young so it was easier. She made it even more easier for us because she did everything our mommy would do.
We all stuck to calling her mum and never did any of us call her mommy to this day. It was so automatic, we didn’t discuss it. Mommy was our mum in heaven and mum was Eva on earth.
Mum gave us two beautiful sisters that we never knew we needed until they came into our lives.
I struggled through school with the idea of having a stepmom. There were really horrible stories about stepmothers and mistreatments children went through under their care. I never talked about it with anyone. Never discussed that my mother had died. I was torn between the two narratives. I didn’t know with whom to identify myself with. I was afraid of forgetting my mother by acknowledging a stepmother who was nothing but good. I didn’t know how to tell both stories without contradiction. Yet I wanted the world to know both. But now I do!
Anyway, the God of my mother was faithful to her and I know she rests in peace knowing in her loss we found a loving stepmother that we all effortlessly are blessed to call mum. Eva mum, is a hero. She gave her whole life unquestionably to us. She invested her whole self to us and there is nothing human I can do to show her how immensely grateful I am. I will forever be indebted to her. I have spent all my life with her and my younger siblings know only her as mother and there is so much to write about her. I‘m happy she does know how much we all love her.
Those who know her personally know she is a giver and would attest to everything I said about her. If there is an award for stepmothers she absolutely deserves it.
(Idk if she will ever get to read this but if she ever does then I want her to know she is an inspiration and my family would be nothing without her. Her energy, jokes and laughter keeps us going)