I am a Christian writer and speaker. I have authored or co-authored several books and my work has also appeared in numerous publications; magazines, anthologies,and devotionals including, Focus on the Family, The Upper Room, The Secret Place, David C Cook Company, Lifeway, Celebrate Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and many others. Visit my website at http://harrietemichael.com
This post was written by my sister, Alisa Smith. It is about a person who was so special to our family. In a couple more weeks, I will post a story about Awudi that I wrote.
Awudi was a member of my family from the
time I have any memory of such a thing as family.She was as much a part of my family as my
brothers or sisters and a far greater part of my family than the grandparents
or relatives that lived across the ocean in a land that I had never seen.She took care of me and my siblings while my
parents saw patients at the hospital or the Leprosy Settlement, Blind Center,
and Kersey Children’s’ Home, a home for motherless babies whose population grew
the longer the Biafrian War raged.It
was as if I had two mothers a white one and a black one.Two mothers who loved me and two mothers that
Awudi was there when my sister tried at age
three to dive head first into the bath tub from on top of the toilet and split her
head open. It was Awudi who wrapped a towel around her bleeding head and made
sure my mother did not run out of the house naked in her efforts to get
Marianne to the hospital. After my mother and Marianne left, it was Awudi who
gathered me and my frightened siblings close in her arms and sang softly in a
language we did not understand, stopping only to kiss us on our heads. The
reason we did not understand her song was that she spoke neither English nor
Yoruba. She spoke Ingeni, the language of her tribe in Igbo land near the Niger River Delta.
When I grew older I was told Awudi’s
story.How she once had four children of
her own and how her husband beat her repeatedly.How she knew that her children were
considered the property of her husband and that if she left him she would lose
them. So she endured the beatings for many years, until one day her husband
nearly killed her. She became convinced that he would eventually beat her to
death and so she left, her heart crying for her lost children. I believe that
is why she loved us so much.We became
her children and we returned her love.
It is strange for me to realize how little
actual English she spoke to us. She could say No of course, and Yes.But the rest of the time she showed us what
she needed us to do, to hurry, to bathe, to dress, or to pick up our plates.
And of course no words were needed when we skinned our knees or cut our feet,
only her arms to wipe away the tears. She had comforting down to an art. There
was no one else we would rather snuggle into when we were frightened or whose
shoulders we would rather lay our heads on when we were sleepy.
I have a vivid memory of watching her get
dressed once when I was eleven years old.We were traveling on a trip to see another missionary family and I had
left my room to go to where Awudi was sleeping.I am not sure why I went there, maybe because I was in a strange place
and she was comfort personified. It was early and she was humming softly and
putting powder on her arms and face.She
laughingly dabbed a little bit on my face and I laughed.We did not speak a word.I just sat there feeling happy watching the
sun streaming in through the window while Awudi softly sang. I realize now that we
were speaking our very own language, a language that does not need words…..the
language of love.