Mary Theresa Okalebo 5th July 1948 – 9th March 2023
Mum passes away- End of a Family Era
There are moments in life that seem unreal and are devastating. One of these moments is having a parent pass away. My mum left this mortal world at 6.02 am East African Time on the 9th March 2023 at a hospital in Nairobi Kenya.
She was born on the 5th July 1948 in Uganda but lived most of her adult life in the neighboring country of Kenya with my late Dad, who had his professional career in Kenya. Parents are anchors and pillars that we always rely on and their demise always leaves an unreplaceable gap.
Her legacy lives on through her children and grandchildren. This event just comes hardly a year after my dad passed away. It’s a very sad and tragic moment for the family. In this tragic moment we also get to appreciate that time is always on the march.
Our life cycles will always run their course and we have to be prepared for this reality. Most of us take our parents for granted and do not realize we have a finite time with them. They are our primary advocates and remain our principal role models in life.
They are the only human beings that will love you unconditionally. Cherish any moment you have with them.
My Mother’s key character attributes
My mother had four main attributes that I will always cherish and never forget but her key attribute that will never be forgotten was a ‘No Nonsense and Tough Love Mother’ who later mellowed to a doting grand mother and matriarch of her family.
1. Religious and Charitable
My mother was a very devoted Christian who took her religious duty seriously. She was educated in catholic founded schools and was dedicated to service of her church and community.
In all the places she ever lived she left an impact in the catholic churches she was part of. She was quite charismatic and a great networker. She got to know all her parish priests personally and took the time to ensure she was involved in all key church activities.
Her guiding principals were centered on Biblical and time-tested principals. She raised her family under strict Catholic doctrine and her aim was always to enroll her children under catholic run schools. She took many of our extended family under her wing and educated them.
She understood the importance of great foundational values and morals. She always aimed to attend the pilgrimage at Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine in Uganda on the 3rd June every year. She was a pillar in every community she lived in.
2. A stickler for academic excellence and discipline
My mother was passionate about education. She was a stickler for excellence in the academic field and sphere. She believed and knew that an excellent education could unlock opportunities in life. The school term end was a moment that brought terror in my siblings’ hearts and I.
We had to present a report card that had you in the top three in class. She believed in the adage “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child” If you were not rated among the top three in class you were guaranteed some strokes of the cane.
My brother had to climb up a tree to escape her wrath when he presented a below average report card. She was a tough disciplinarian. Her voice could be heard miles away as she gave commands and rebuked any shortcomings of any shoddy work.
The results of her focus on discipline resulted in a medical doctor, pharmacist, two engineers, an architect and IT engineer.
3. Ambitious, Leader and Hardworking
My mother was very ambitious, a leader and a hard-working lady. Whatever field she joined she always rose to the top. She worked as a secretary in the East African Community before it broke up. She was considered the best secretary in the pool and was promoted to the Personal Assistant of one of the directors.
The EAC broke up in 1977 and she become a fully devoted business lady. She turned to poultry rearing and rose to the pinnacle in this industry in Nairobi Kenya. She was known by the purchasing managers and chefs in most of the leading restaurants and hotels in Nairobi, Kenya.
She became the de facto head and go to authority on chicken rearing and marketing in our Estate. Before women’s empowerment became a catch phrase in this last two decades she was the living role model of an empowered business lady.
4. Loyal devoted wife, mother and grandmother
My mother met my father in the year 1967 and they were together till his death in 2021. They remained together as a couple for 54 years and remained true to their marital vows. They had six kids – four girls and two boys.
Unfortunately, my brother passed away in January 2015 which was a devastating blow to my parents. Through thick and thin, in heath and sickness, in plenty and scarcity they stayed together through the ebbs, flows and trials of this world.
A true defining moment in her life occurred when my father had a nasty car accident in the year 1982, which almost cost him his life then. She took on the mantle of the head of the house. She took care of her children, run a business as she visited my father daily in hospital for over one year till his eventual recovery.
This event crystallized her devotion to her marriage and family. She came out stronger and became the person she was till her death. Her grandkids got the soft and mellow side of her character. She faithfully doted on them and ensured they were treated as young princes and princesses.
I will miss you mummy and your legacy will always remain cherished in our lives forever. Rest in peace and May the Lord be with you till we meet again. Your beloved son.