On Tuesday 25th August 2020, I was waiting for my brother to call with updates on a medical test my mum was supposed to undergo, in preparation for a follow-up appointment with a medical consultant the next week.

When my brother eventually called, I asked how it all went, only to be told that my mum had gone to be with the Lord. I was stunned. That was not the news I was expecting to hear. For a few seconds, I was lost for words. I didn’t know what to say or ask. My mind went blank and no matter what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t find the words. It took a couple of seconds for me to hear my brother calling out with concern, “Hello! Hello! Are you there?”  I assured him I was okay and will talk later. Living thousands of miles away from my mum and my two brothers made the news even more difficult to take.

My mum was so strong physically that I was totally unprepared for her passing. When she took ill a few weeks ago, I was certain that she would pull through easily. Little did I know when I spoke to her that it was going to be the last conversation, I would have with her. I could barely hear her voice on the phone which was unlike her. When I shared my concern with my brother, he assured me that she was only weak because of the medication given to her.

My mother, Florence Olubukola Popoola left a powerful and long lasting legacy for her children. She was not rich materially, but she was quite rich spiritually. Every time I called her was an opportunity for me to be prayed for. My mum never concluded any conversation between us without a few minutes of blessing upon me and my family. My mum was my prayer partner. When I faced difficult situations and shared them with my her, she would tell me, “Don’t worry, I will pray about this. As long as this person or situation has a name, it must bow to the will of God”

For as long as I remember, I have always known my mum as a dogged and determined follower of Christ. One of the Psalms I learnt since an early age was Psalm 27 and 91. I knew it by heart because my mum would always read these daily when we held our prayer devotionals in the morning. My brothers and I would be bleary eyed with sleep as she read these Psalms and prayed over us. I didn’t fully understand the power of the words of those Psalms until I began to study the scripture on my own.

My mum was a warrior. She would fight for her children against any attack whether physically or spiritually. Her choice of weapon was always prayer although there have been times when her verbal warning alone was enough to throw fear into anyone who dare touch her children.

My mum loved her children unconditionally. I have seen her switch from being angry at us for wrongdoing one minute and the next shedding tears and rushing to care for us when we got hurt. She was a strict no-nonsense mum, but she was at the same time so full of compassion.

My mum was a woman of faith. With no job and three boys to take care of, my mum trusted God for every meal. I remember clearly how she would fill a pot with water, light the stove and place the pot on the fire, knowing fully well that there was no food in the house. I can’t count how many times God honoured her faith by making food available, either through an unexpected visit from someone who would give us money or one of us coming home with food just in time for her to cook.

My mum was proud of her boys. One of the earlier memories I have is of my mum going to the market and insisting her three boys accompany her. She would walk ahead of us and we would follow her in many cases grudgingly, not understanding why she wouldn’t leave us at home so we could play football while she was away. I remember an occasion at the market when someone said something insulting to my mum and my brothers went for the guy. It took my mum to get them to back down. I could see from her demeanour that she was proud of her boys defending her.

I know for a certainty that when my mum was leaving this earth, the last thing she must have done was to pray for my brothers and I as well as our families.

I miss you mum, but I know that you are in a better place. I know that one day we will meet at the feet of the Master, where there will be no more pain, sorrow or parting.

Rest on, my dearest mother.

Steve Popoola