Family is where the heart is
On every last Thursday of the month when I was about 4 years, my mum would drag me along with her to town. This was my mum’s day of going to the bank. Now I was fascinated by this day for two reasons. The first was the fact that my mum was a housewife, yet she was always going to withdraw money from the bank. I was too young and I could only conceive that we were entirely rich and did not need to work. All we had to do was go to the bank and withdraw money at the end of the month. Even though I hated the long queues as we waited to get to the teller, I occupied myself the entire time with my childish whimsies and got carried away by mum’s tales.
Secondly, on this particular day, my mum would take me to eat my favorite food-chips. But that was not even the best part, the best part is we would huddle together and share the plate of fries. Until I was maybe twelve, I thought of this act as a ritual. In my mind and from the few Christian values that I had been taught, we were to share everything. My mum and I thus shared a meal to signify this. Never did it cross my mind that we were poor or that my mum struggled to make ends meet and that the money she withdrew every month was just three thousand Kenya shillings of her retrenchment benefit funds.
We would then walk from Post Bank on Market Lane off Banda street all the way to Uhuru Park where we would meet my dad. He would either get me to have my face painted or go for a boat ride. These moments were all magical; they affirmed to me that my parents loved me. But little did I also know that my father was unemployed and he would spend his lunchtime every day at Uhuru Park – whenever we met, he had to part with 50 shillings or probably more just to ensure I had fun. So I grew up knowing and believing what St. Josemaria underscores in his teaching-family is the centre of love.
It is not that my parents never had disagreements through these hard times of unemployment, yet we never saw them fight. They understood that difficulties would crop up in their lives and if they solved them in an amicable way, their love would deepen all the more. Later as I grew up and had my disagreements with my friends, this aspect of listening and resolving issues peacefully came in hand. They neither hid their devotional life from us nor shoved it down our throats. They taught us that prayer was fundamental, but they let us realize its serenity by ourselves. They understood that as a Christian couple they are called to sanctify themselves and others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in the home.
St. Josemaria Escrivà was constantly asked how to keep the romance in marriage alive, and what women should do to keep their husbands. In response, he often reminded his listeners and these particular couples to love each other with the love of their youth, to be patient with one another and to love each other with defects as God did. I am perhaps sometimes aloof to noticing this in my family until last month when my mother had her dowry ceremony – “ruracio.” When my father was finally given a chance to speak, he decided to sing a Kikuyu song that he had specially composed for my mum. Among the quirky lyrics of the song that still remained etched in my mind were the words, “Mucii ni thayu” which loosely translates to “To have a home is to have enough joy”
This article was written by Susan Ngoiri who was 5th in the blog writing competition.
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