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LifeStyle of Thursday, 23 July 2020


How do you get your mother to forgive?

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My mom and my dad got divorced when I was thirteen years. According to my dad, it was about something both of them could have sat down and settle but my mom took an entrenched position and left the marriage. She told my dad one morning that she was going to visit her family, spend a week with them and come back home. When my mom was leaving, she left with my two older brothers and left me and my senior sister behind. A week turned to months but my mother didn’t return. One afternoon, mom sent a delegation to my dad that she was fed up with the marriage and can’t come back again.

According to my dad, he sent a delegation back to her to apologize and ask her to come back home. To cut a long story short, my mother never came back. She insisted on a divorce and a few months later, the divorce was granted. My mother made it point-blank that she was going to keep my two brothers so my dad should also keep me and my elder sister who was then fifteen years old. That’s my father’s version of events that led to the divorce.

My mom’s version had a different twist to the whole story. According to her, my dad got another woman pregnant which he didn’t tell her. She found out through rumors and asked my dad about it but my dad kept denying it until one evening he came clean to her. Apart from that, dad had a temper she couldn’t live with. Though he didn’t lay hands on her, there were too many occasions he attempted to beat her for something very little. So it wasn’t only the infidelity issue that made her left the marriage but other issues like his temper and the incessant threat of physical abuse led her to decide not to marry him again.

“What happened to the lady you got pregnant?” I asked dad recently and he responded, “She gave birth but unfortunately the child couldn’t survive. She died a week later and I suspect your mom had a hand in the child’s death.” I asked why he suspects foul play from my mom and he answered, “So you don’t know your mom is a witch? She killed the baby in spirit.” He laughed as he was saying that.

Mom got married a year after the divorce but dad didn’t. Maybe he had girlfriends, I don’t know but dad had been single since then.

When my mom decided to keep my elder brothers, dad insisted and even begged my mom to bring them over and come for us since we were girls and younger than the ones she had taken away. Mom said no. According to my dad, my mom made it emphatically clear, “Of what use are female children that I have to pick and leave the males for you?” So she kept the boys and because she got married sooner, dad couldn’t visit to see them.

I remember dad struggling to take care of us on his own. He always had his wife around to do the caretaking and all of a sudden the wife was no more around. He didn’t know what to do with us so he spoke to his senior sister who was then living in the UK to come for us. I was fifteen and in the first year of senior high school when my aunt came for me. A year later, my senior sister joined. My mom didn’t know of this because she wasn’t contacting us. We were in constant touch with dad. He motivated us all the time and even helped us picked our future careers. His sister—our aunt did all she could to ensure we got the best out of life. She had no husband and had no child so we were her everything.

It was my graduation in 2018 when dad first visited us in the UK.

He looked old and frail but he wasn’t any different person than the dad I’d come to know. He was still funny and brought this aura of comfort around him. All this while, we haven’t heard anything from our mother. I didn’t know where my senior brothers were and anytime I enquired from dad, he also said they seemed to have vanished from the surface of the earth. He didn’t know either.

After graduation, I came to Ghana with my father and decided to go and look for my mother. That was when I realized dad had all the information about her but decided not to contact her because she got married again. Somehow, he was still pained that his wife left him and married another man. He didn’t look for her not because he didn’t know where to find her but because he didn’t want to see her and look miserable because he still loved her.

That day I found my mom, I cried. She didn’t even recognize me but I did because she was my mom and I always kept her in my memory. In a living room with her husband seated next to her, she asked me, “My lady, they say you were looking for me. I hope you brought good news. Which of my two boys is your boyfriend?” They both laughed while I sat there with tears in my eyes. I said “Mom, this is Efe, your last born. Don’t you recognize me?” Her eyes and mouth opened wide instantly. She screamed, “Efe? You mean you’re my daughter Efe?” She jumped off her seat and hugged me so tight at some point I couldn’t breathe.

She asked, “Where have you been? Your dad decided to hide you two from me but what is mine can’t be lost. Where is your senior sister? Is she also as beautiful as you are now?” At this point, her husband excused us so we could go on with our issues.

I told her where we’ve been and what I’d become. I told her about my sister and how close she is to becoming a lawyer. I told her about my father and what he had become—old and frail. I saw her demeanor changed from happy to reflective. She said, “This is where I settled after your father left me and your two other brothers to cater for ourselves. God being so good, I met this honest man and we got married. It’s been him who had been taking care of me and your brothers.” I asked where my brothers were and she said the elder was a teacher in Accra and the other one was a footballer.

I took her number and I also gave her my number.

When I got home, my dad asked me, “How is your mom? I hope you found her happy.” I said, “Yeah, she was happy to see me and I was very happy to see her after all these years—twelve years?” He asked, “Did she ask of me?” I said, “She asked of my elder sister.” He looked away as if he didn’t belong to the same place both of us were sitting.

Since the visit, Mom called me every day and we talked about everything she had missed while away. I gave my senior sister’s number to her too. They talked everyday and she even sent her money and other stuff. I met my senior brother—the teacher when I was traveling back to the UK. He was a man. Broad chested and plenty beard like Moses in the bible. I couldn’t see the footballer because he was always in camp.

Back in the Uk mom called me and said something that got me so angry and felt so unwanted. She said, “You should be thankful to me and not your dad. When I got pregnant with you, your dad wanted me to abort you because he wasn’t ready for a fourth child. I stood my grounds amidst threats and cold treatment from him until you were born. He didn’t like you but I was there for you.” I spoke to my sister about it and she made jokes about the whole thing so I called my dad and asked him. He said, “Why is your mom telling you this now? To destroy me to you? Yes, I said that because we were not in the position to have another child. I meant no malice.”

Each day mom called with different stories about the evils of my father. I’m a woman and wouldn’t like any man to treat me the way my mom was saying my dad treated her. She said it was my dad’s idea that we got separated from her. She’ll say all that and later ask me to send her money. My dad never called us until we did. He never asked for money from us but mom called always and ended up asking for money.

Soon it became clear what mom was trying to do—to get us to hate on our dad and in the end draw us to herself. I called dad one day and told him everything and asked him to apologize to mom, maybe that would solve the problem. He said, “I apologized to her when she wanted to leave. She didn’t listen to me so there’s no need to do it again. The harm has already been done. You have to learn something from this. When you get married, don’t walk away when the problem can be resolved, else you have this same problem I’m having. Don’t repeat my mistake but leave your mom to do her worse. I’d forgiven myself so no one can pronounce me guilty.”

Two years later, mom still calls us and talk about our father and the things he did to her. My senior sister has cut her off completely. She doesn’t pick her calls and she doesn’t send her anything. She’s bitter about it and thinks it’s my father’s doing. I’m married now and managing my own family. Mom still calls and talk about my dad. I’m fed up. I’ve tried my best but it looks like I’m also giving up on her. Soon she might lose me and I’ve told her that. She said, “I should have known your father’s blood runs through you so you can’t turn out any differently. But I’m your mother. I’m not cursing you but if you don’t take care your husbands will treat you the same way your dad treated me so you know how it hurt”

Do you think my mom is ever going to forgive my dad and stop talking about him?

I don’t know but she’ll die a sad death if she dies without forgiving the past of my dad. He’s a good man and he lives in peace—he lives in peace because he had moved on. How I wish my mom will also live the same way but no. She prefers fighting a battle that ended so many years ago. She wants to use us as a weapon to put my father down. She called me some weeks ago and I didn’t pick. I’ll continue like that until she changes her mind.

—Efe, UK