By Adenike Yesufu
Funso, words cannot express my feelings. When one has known someone for as long as I have known you, when one has had a long history of closeness and togetherness one is at a loss at the sudden and unexpected passing of that someone.
The last time we spoke just a few days before you passed on, you were sharing your thoughts and plans for the future ahead. Your throaty laugh was still ringing in my ears when I heard of your passing. It was quite sudden, no notice, no indication nor hint that the end was near. We chatted for about two hours in our usual fashion touching on everything under the sun.
The passing of any loved one is sad but thankfully with you, the pain and the shock quickly became Good News as I was instantly made aware of where you had gone because among many things you were a woman of faith. You had laid the foundation for an eternal place in the heavenly kingdom.
Coincidentally you responded to that inevitable call on the day of the Lord. I remember the very many hours that we have shared together in prayers. I remember your journey of faith. I remember your growth in faith, your unflinching commitment to your faith and your devotion to your Lord and Saviour. I thank the Lord for you. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116 vs. 15).
Funso spending time with you was always fun. Starting from when we were young and still in school. We would visit each other and later escorted each other to and fro between Oyekan Road and Ogunlana Drive, having laughs, sharing our thoughts about life, about dreams, about aspirations, about loves and about the futures. We always had so much to say to each other, so much to talk about, and so much to laugh about. As we grew older the bond became stronger. We were later separated physically with residing in various places in the world but the bond did not weaken. You have been a friend who sticks closer than a sister, to use the Biblical expression. You like people, you reach out to people and you extend to people.
Funso, you were a woman of immense inner strength. You handled life with stoicism. The best part of your life was your fierce devotion and love for the people in your life and around you, your children, your family, your friends, your students, etc., as the Lord commanded that we should love all. For you teaching was not just a vocation it was a call, a ministry. Your care and love for the children in your charge is legendary. You were a great teacher; your heart was irrevocably centered on the betterment of the young souls placed under you.
Parents knew that you were genuinely interested in the successes and comfort of their children. Your professional journey serves as a reminder to all of us that the tragedy of life is having no goal to reach. You set goals for yourself and you strive to achieve them. You pursued your career with the one sole aim of getting better at each level. You lived your life with a certain type of quiet resolve rarely found in many. Your optimistic view of life leaves you undaunted even in the face of severe scepticism and criticism from others.
Funso you always had interesting perspectives about life and situations. I usually marvel at your uncanny instinct at discerning people and situations. You also had a subtle sense of humour. Remember whenever we talked about how poorly paid teachers are you would say that God loves teachers, which is why He has reserved our rewards in heaven. Funso you were always so proud of your roots.
Remember how you would always describe yourself as an authentic Omo Ile Ife. Your identity was firmly rooted in your cultural heritage. You lived your life to the fullest with an impressive joie de vivre. You appreciated life and the source of your numerous blessings. You had a deep understanding of roles and expectations and you were well aware of your own responsibilities in them all.
I watched you over the years struggle to maintain a balance in all the statuses that you occupied, a wife, a mother, a sibling, an in-law, a teacher, a principal, a friend, a Christian and an armchair politician. Thankfully you did not die with unfulfilled dreams except that of visiting the Caribbean where your late mother came from. I was looking forward to facilitating that and accompanying you. We might just do that in another life!!!
Funso time and age did not take its toll on you. You remained your pretty self till the very end. The greatest hallmark of your life was the inner beauty that radiated to what we all see from the external. The best part of you is your interactions with people. You believed in relationships, you valued relationships, you worked on relationships. This is the memory of you that will remain forever with many whose paths have crossed your own. You are not dead; your memory is warm in the hearts of those you love and those who love you.
To borrow from Funeral Blues by Wystan Hugh Auden we will not stop all the clocks, we will not cut off the telephones, we will not prevent the dogs from barking we will not silence the pianos, neither will we muffle the drums. We will bring out the coffin; we will let the mourners come. We will send out the message that you have translated because the Scriptures tell us that there is a time to live and there is a time to die.
Everything that has a beginning has an ending. We will celebrate your life. We will roll out the drums. We will sing in thankfulness of all that you were. Mark Twain says that Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.
Funso being the pragmatist that you were I know what you will say in response to all these. In the words of Anne Bronte you will say to your children, to all those close to you, to all those you love and to all those who love you. ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. Weep if you must, parting is tough, but life goes on. Cry for me a little. Think of me sometimes, but not too much. Think of me now and again as I was in life.’
And to me Adenike your close friend you will say in the words of Henry Scott Holland, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, 1847-1918 ‘All Is Well, Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.’
Funso I say Farewell to you but not farewell to all my fondest thoughts of you. Within my heart they will continue to dwell. Sleep on, dear friend and sister till we meet again at Jesus feet.