By Swandy Banta
I was being treated for malaria fever, so I went to the hospital with my cousin to receive the last injection for the treatment.
Just at the entrance of the hospital we saw a young man crying. We ordinarily would have passed him by because we were in a hurry. We had left the kids in the car with a promise to return shortly, but on a second thought we decided to stop.
It took a while to calm him down. His name was David and he had just lost his dad to a brief illness. He didn’t look more than 21 years to me. When he was able to speak, the following conversation ensued…..
Me: So what’s your name?
David: My name is David
Me: You lost someone?
David: Yes, I just lost my dad
Me: Sigh! (Trust me that brought memories of the day my dad died). Who are you with in the hospital? Or was it just you and your dad?
Me: You have an elder brother or sister?
David: No ma. I’m with my mom. I’m the first child…(He cries a little bit more)…I am too young for this.
Me: So who’s with her now?
David: Nobody! She’s there in the ward.
Me: David you are not too young for this, so I give you two minutes to cry all that’s left to cry and get up and follow me. Your responsibility starts now!
… we got to the ward and as I anticipated, we met his mom wailing and rolling on the floor left all by herself, safe for a nurse who stopped for a while to tell her to trust God.
As I drove home I began to think about it all. It dawned on me that our children should never be too young to take responsibility unless they are really young.
Why would a young man of over twenty years be too young to know how to take responsibility when he needs to?
The problem is that parents sometimes have the tendency of stagnating the growth and maturity of their kids by not allowing them take some responsibilities they actually can, so much so that when they get to age they should take responsibility; some of them are ill prepared.
A case in point is the young man David. I would have expected that he would by default not have left his mom’s side knowing well that he was all she had at that point. She didn’t need strangers consoling her. She needed family.
I began to thank God that my dad didn’t die earlier than he did because if he had died when we were David’s age my mom would have suffered because we were a lot like David. So unprepared and inexperienced.
I remember the four years I spent in the university. My mom always brought us to school, paid our fees herself, got accommodation for us and made sure we were well settled before she left. In fact they visited us in school almost as much as they did when we were in secondary school.
We never joined commercial vehicles to go home for holidays or return to school. Either or both of our parents always accompanied us back or came to pick us.
Looking back, I recall how some other students must have envied us, not realizing that as sweet as that appeared, it was ill preparing us for a world where we had to at some point stand on our own. Without mummy or daddy!
What I’m trying to say is that since we know that life can take certain twists and turns we didn’t quite bargain for and that there are certain inevitabilities that we have no control of; for instance death. It behooves on us to be deliberate about preparing our family for the possibilities.
There’s this woman I know. Her husband was good to her. He took good care of the family. He made sure she never had to worry about the mechanics, paying utility bills and school runs. She was not even conversant with filling stations because he always bought the fuel for her car himself.
She was a queen. Other women envied her and threw jibes at their husbands for not treating them that well.
One day, suddenly her husband died in an accident. Just like that.
She told how her Cinderella world fell apart like a pack of cards that day. She just didn’t know where to start from.
Thankfully there was one thing her husband didn’t shield her from; she had continuously built on her academic qualifications, so when he died she already had a Masters degree, so she was brave enough to face her new reality and pick up gradually. Today, she’s done well for her family.
It is good for us to love, care and protect our loved ones with all the fierceness we can muster but at the same time it is more important to be deliberate about preparing them for what I would call “Just in case”.
Just in case is if you and your spouse die and leave your teenage first child to take care of their siblings. Just in case if your wife has to fend for the family because you are incapacitated one way or the other. Sometimes it baffles me when I see men who just won’t let their wives school or acquire one skill or the other.
You need to sometimes visualize life without you even while you are here.
Create scenarios in your mind that will help x-ray the level of preparedness of your spouse, kids or dependants. It’s a tough call, but very useful in helping you prepare for the possibilities of what the future may birth.
I had a boss in the office whose wife suddenly died in a car accident. The fact that he was still alive was a consolation for the kids. Two years later he passed away too. Their first child was in her first year at the university. If it happened to you, will your kids manage without you?
I also had a neighbor who passed away and then her husband also died a year later. They had two kids, the older in primary four and the younger in primary two. Good thing they had her husband’s younger brothers living with them. She also had a live in help who stayed back to help raise the kids.
Today, they are fine. Her husband’s brothers were able to make good use of the death benefits to build a house and send the kids to school. The first daughter is in the university, while the son is in senior secondary school.
My daughter is five years old but I play out scenarios in my head about my absence. What would happen to her if I died today? Will she manage well without me?
Learn to instill good morals in your children so that just in case they have to live with other people if you leave, they will not be nuisance and will also bear any inconveniences. Teach them to be contented, courteous, hard working and street wise as soon as they are of age.
So I ask you…What would happen if you died today? Have you equipped them enough to at their own level be able to survive without you?
…After all, komai na Allah ne! Everything belongs to God!
Swandy Banta is blue blooded, ask her what that means and she gladly tells you, she’s been through the tunnel of pain and she found illuminating light. She writes and coaches on the difficult subject of pain. Whether it’s national pain, community pain or the pain of loss and the hurts of life that makes us all ask why—she brings new perspectives.
Swandy can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org