I cried, cried and cried some more. For about 30 minutes after I knew about grandma’s death (I call her juju); that’s all I did. Wept.
I was in the middle of an online service when I got the news; I didn’t even know how to proceed with it, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to feel. Then I decided to go through pictures of juju; and I kind of relived the moments as I scrolled through her pictures. I particularly went to a folder we have of her 103rd birthday; from back in 2017.She was so healthy, she could walk without any help, she could recognize everyone who had come to celebrate her, she sang, she prayed, she did all juju kind of stuff (any family reading this would know what I mean)
I remember when mum told me about juju’s death, she said, “I am at peace. I am happy we did all we could humanly do. Now let her rest.” This honestly gave me so much strength. Especially knowing how my mum and her mum were close; it gave me so much hope to hear my mum say these words.
Allow me to introduce you to grandma…
I’m happy mum invested a culture in me to go upcountry right from a tender age. Juju and I developed a relationship and we were really good friends. Back then, she would go to the shamba and spend all day harvesting this, weeding that and planting the other. She was very active! So when I saw this, I couldn’t stand being left in the house while grandma was in the shamba; so she has to get me a small jembe for my little hands and we would go together. Once we finished the day’s work she would carefully show me how to remove mud off my shoes and we would wash our pangas and keep them safely for the next day.
As time went by, of course I grew older, and so did she. So trips to the shamba were still there; only they reduced. About the time when I was in high school; mum had briefly relocated to Meru, so when I came home from school, we would go down to the village to juju’s place. Dear grandmother would cook meat, and chips (she knew I loved this and so did she!), and many other nice things; including fried nduma! She received us with so much love. And not just us; this was her norm; she received everyone with so much love. Old as she was, she did not want a house manager to stay with her; she told us she was with her God. She was a busy bee; maintaining cleanliness and neatness to the very latter!
By 6 pm; if you are not in the house, she didn’t like it. So we all knew if you’re at grandma’s or going to visit her, make it before dark (6pm). One thing I will deeply miss about her, is her prayers. Which we so faithfully held daily at 6 pm. I will miss those prayers so much. She
Juju digital…grandma got a phone which she could comfortably operate on her own. One thing that amazed me is how she knew each of us when we called just by hearing our voices. She called us by name.
Juju Kiama…grandma composed this song ‘kiama’ which means miracle. This song made so much sense, it was like a story; rich with wisdom. Grandma would sing this song in her church, family gatherings, at home…she was popularly known as Juju Kiama!
Juju our family matriarch…in our family, juju was the oldest. I looked up to her as the head of our entire family; and not only was she the head because of her age, she was even in her deeds. She was our advisor, reconciler, our anchor, she really was a matriarch!
Grandma enjoyed a very healthy life up until last year, when her health deteriorated. Juju loved chatting and telling us stories in Meru we would say “nteto cia kamankuura” and slowly she would talk less; move less; but one thing was unshaken. To the very last minute on her death bed, juju’s FAITH was unmoved!
She suffered five strokes; not simultaneously; but yes, five! At her age! She was a strong one that one! To be very honest; there’s a time in between the strokes, I think the third one, I thought she wouldn’t make it. But juju made it and she was back on her feet. Though not as strongly as she previously was; she amazed me!
There’s a lot I will miss about juju; her prayers, her food, her advice, her presence…I will miss all of it. In fact, when we went down to up country to lay her to rest I felt a really huge vacuum. I can’t recall any one time when juju was not home. I will miss my trips to Meru to see juju.
Amidst all these grief, I choose to look at it this way; juju deposited a lot of good morals and wisdom in me; I will strive to live by them. On certain occasions; juju would mention that she was ready to meet her Creator; she was waiting for His call…and so I believe God called her, and it was her time to leave earth, I can only imagine how heaven rejoiced!
Some days are great, other days it kind of dawns on me that I will never see her (in flesh) but I believe she is happy. I have this image of her dancing and singing Kiama, because indeed it is!
I will deeply miss you Juju; I pray that your soul rests in eternal peace.