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A Night Of Tributes: A Mother In-Law That Was More Than A Mother To Me

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Late Mrs. Comfort Edjedi, nee Okpodoko.

By Young Erhiurhoro

My heart was pricked with pains and tears and my entire body wrapped in fear and shock on that fateful evening, Tuesday 9th March, 2021 after we have discharged you from the hospital and told you I was going home to have my bath and to eat. I remembered vividly when you said I should go and have a little rest at home after so much stress in the hospital. Unknowingly to me, you were just trickishly sending me away to do the worst on my behalf. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes later, before they rushed to call me that your state of health had badly changed. I couldn’t eat again after taken my bath. I ran with all my energy to your bedroom where you lied down, only to meet you given up the ghost in my weak hands. I thought I was in a trance, but the deed has been done. That was the end of the earthly sojourn of my sweet mother in-law.

The late Mrs. Comfort Edjedi was indeed a mother in-law that was truly more than a mother to me in my entire life. She was the biological mother of my lovely and beautiful wife, Mrs. Ruth Awhrudjakpor Young. My wife was her eldest daughter and also number three in the line of her eight children. Late Mrs. Comfort Edjedi was the wife of late Pa. Jonah Orohwaruke Edjedi who died over seven years ago. She was the eldest daughter of late Pa. Okpodoko Irhowe and Mama Omoteko, both of Unenurhie town, Ughelli North LGA of Delta state.

According to the biography presented by the eldest son, Mr. Vincent Edjedi just few minutes ago, the late Mrs. Comfort Edjedi died at the age of 75 years after a brief sickness. She was a peasant farmer like many of her mates in the village. On the other hand, she was more than a farmer to many people in the neighborhood of Unenurhie and the many neighbouring communities. Late Mrs. Comfort Edjedi was a notable and reliable traditional medicine practitioner, specializing in the treatment of different ailments and sicknesses, including infant diseases and women delivery. She was deeply in love and solely committed and dedicated to this local practice to an extent, she gave her joy and happiness for practising it. In fact, my mother in-law was happy when treating people especially children for free and for overcoming such disastrous health challenges at the end of the treatment or administration of the herbal medications.

On her religious practice, late Mrs. Comfort Edjedi was an ardent traditional religionist who believed and practised the core Urhobo traditional beliefs and cultural practices and values till she breathed her last. She was a member and worshipper of the Ererivwin deity in Unenurhie town. The Ererivwin deity is a religious group that drew members from Unenurhie, Evwreni and Uwheru communities. This deity was her spiritual force and a guidance spirit in her profession as a traditional medicine practitioner. However, before this time, my mother in-law confided in me that she began her early life as a Christian with the then, CMS Church in the community. She was baptized in the church and was also very committed before fate now dealt with her in a hard way to later changed her religious beliefs and practices to that of African traditional religion. That is just the misery of life!
More importantly, I want at this time narrow down this tribute to my relationship with this great virtuous woman of valour and candour. Truly, as many people know about me, I was groomed, nurtured and trained here in Unenurhie town under the tutelage and care of my step-father, late Mr. Harrison Atori and my mother, late Mrs. Comfort Atori in the Igbe religious home of late Uku Sunday Efedudu. We lived in this man’s compound as our own compound in the community without segregation or separation. This very compound was just a few feet away to my in-laws’ compound. As children in the same neighborhood, we did a lot of chores together especially night plays like hide and seek game during moonlight hours. This was how I got to know this amiable family.

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First, I was a friend to one of the sons of the family, Mr. John Opotor Edjedi. It was through him I knew his sister, Ruth who is now my beloved wife. Though the battle to establish the boy-girl friendship relationship was very tough and with fierce resistance from the parents especially the father who insisted that his daughter must complete higher school before marriage. In order to discouraged her from indulging in pre-marital affairs, the parents took my wife to Lagos to live with a distant family member. Yet, as luck would have it, she still returned from Lagos as a result of primordial circumstances. At last, we were able to hook up in the love game. This was where my relationship started with this family. Immediately we came together as two love birds, my wife became pregnant just few months later. Then, I just finished secondary school and she was only in JSS 3. It was a serious battle between me and her parents. My parents, and our father, late Uku Sunday Efedudu came into the scene and broker peace at last.

At the end, my wife had a stillbirth and was infested with a very strange spiritual attack. This was beyond the mother’s herbal power and she was even recommending the option of taking her to a powerful church for deliverance. At last, we converted to Freedom Church of God Int’l at Evwreni town founded by Rev. Joseph Ighofimoni. This was another big challenge on my part to have renounced my membership of the Igbe religion when I was living right in the founder’s compound. “Where will I live now?” This was the question in my heart. I was just a young college leaver, preparing for a higher institution and without any job to even cater for my feeding, let alone a wife and the issue of accommodation. In short, it was a disaster and calamity befalling a poor boy like me.

Why I’m was mesmerizing on how to succeed in this critical condition of life, my friend through whom I knew my wife who was now my brother in-law, Mr. John Opotor Edjedi quitted his personal room in their father’s house leaving all the little furniture, clothes and everything he had and called me to stay with his sister in his room. At first, I was afraid of their parents when he made the move to me, but he again encouraged me that he would talk to his parents about my predicaments. Actually, he did and their parents happily welcomed me to the compound as a son in-law, even when I hadn’t paid the stipulated dowry for marital rights in the community. Yet, they accepted and recognized me as a son in-law. This was how I came into the Edjedi family house.

Happily enough, I got admission into a higher institution with the support of my parent in-laws in 2003. Then, we were already having two kids as a couple after the stillbirth. I was able to cope with my wife and the kids throughout our travails and ordeals with much patience and endurance. Life wasn’t rousy as such, but I was happy that my brilliance and talents were not buried under the mud. Unfortunately, the worst calamity again hitted me the year of my graduation from the higher institution. That was the year 2006. An unforgettable year in the history of my life. It was the day I was infested with a deadly sickness of epilepsy right at the Effurun roundabout, Warri when I was boarding a vehicle to Ughelli. It was a battle of all battles.

Luckily, helpers came around and rescued me to Unenurhie town and dumped me for my mother in-law as if she was responsible for my woes and health challenges. Yet, this woman and her husband were neither angered nor bothered. They never rejected me as a strange person in their family. They happily took me in and started running from one place to another to seek medical attention and treatment for the deadly sickness. She applied all the herbal medicines she knew about the sickness, but the sickness was unshakeable. She took me to every known expert in traditional medicine within and outside Unenurhie town for treatment, all was to no avail. The more they applied herbal medications, the fierce the epileptic falls and seizures became. All my family members, both paternal and maternal ran away from me. Many of my friends kept far away from me except few which I can deeply rely on till this very day. Nobody wanted to draw close to me again because of my frequent falls and seizures. I became lonely in life, thinking to end it all. It was a heavy load left for my mother in-law, father in-law and my lovely wife to bear. My mother in-law spent all her money to make sure I was alive to fulfill my dreams and destiny. In fact, it was just the mercy and grace of God that I’m alive today to tell my own story and that of this virtuous woman to the whole world.

Interestingly, I want to conclude this short tribute to my late mother in-law by saying to all of us here, the living that, in whatever capacity or position life or its circumstances have placed us today in the society especially the well privileged, let’s try to build walls of love, goodwill, honesty, generosity, philanthropy, humility, intergrity, kindness and finally, the walls of peace round ourselves by hooking to the less privileged and others like pieces of chains to impact more on the society in positive ways. Don’t forget the old saying, “A single tree can’t make a forest”. Such a single tree will suffer so much stress and pressure from thunderstorm and winds. When the wind blows, it may fall. When the sun shines, the leaves may dry up. When the rain falls, the roots may pull out. When thunder strikes, the entire tree may wither. But when the trees are many in the mangroves, they may bear this pressure and stress together, without even knowing or feeling it.

What am I really saying in parables? Yes, my mother in-law is no more alive. She has gone to join her ancestors, leaving her family in pains and mourning. Her body is dead now, but her good works will continue to live forever in the hearts of those that received such selfless services from her, even amongst us here. I can’t easily forget the good works of this virtuous woman even though she is no more. In such solemn gatherings as this, the questions we need to ask ourselves are these: What are you going to be known or remembered for when you die? How will people describe you after your death? Will they be happy that the wicked had gone? Or will they be in sober reflection or mourning, thinking of one good thing or the other you have done for many people? Will people feel that you have left a vacuum? Or will they thank God for removing you from the family or the community? We can answer these multiple questions by reshaping our lives for good and righteous living styles now that we are still breathing because we will definitely die one day. Let your good works speak good for you and your generations here on earth. Truly, a good name is better than riches. How many of your good stories can I tell here Mama? Let your lasting memory and memorable works continue to live on in our hearts. Adieu my mother in-law that was more than a mother to me!

Young Erhiurhoro;Kjc,
Your son in-law.

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