Thursday, February 19, 2015


Pacing back and forth in the living room of the apartment he shared with his siblings, Emmanuel felt a slight headache as many thoughts raced through his mind. His pensive mood was soon interrupted by a call from Debby who had been with Titus when Constance departed. As he listened to his younger sister speak, he now better understood the reason for his unease because although Debby didn’t say much, he heard Juliet’s voice in the background and it may have sounded like it but she definitely wasn’t singing.

He got off the phone and picked a cab which seemed to have glided across town because he lost every sense of time as he made his way to meet his siblings who were now outside at the parking lot. He walked straight up to Titus and said “Daddy, we need you to be strong for us”. Titus answered in the affirmative with a voice that obviously was suppressing grief. Then, he walked over to Debby who said “it’s well” with a well doctored comportment that followed much crying. Speaking of crying, Juliet was still much engrossed and seemed unable to bring herself to the reality that Constance was gone. When Emmanuel asked “do you have a pen and paper?” Debby handed him a blue piece of paper and a pen most likely thinking what that had to do with anything. He penned down some thoughts that were strong on his mind. One of which was:

“Don’t let sickness be death’s excuse for taking you out before your time”

He didn’t get to write too many of these thoughts before being distracted time and again by cries and wails from people that kept arriving at the hospital on hearing the news...bad news does travel fast! One woman in particular created such a scene that it almost seemed like she was acting but it’s been eight years now and in the past year or more, there’s hardly a month she doesn’t send a text to Emmanuel…who knows, she just might have been sincere after all.

When Lizzy; Emmanuel’s immediate elder sister arrived, they went to Constance’s ward and learnt that her body had been moved. On their way to see her, they met their aunt, Elizabeth aka “Mom Jummy”; a nurse herself, who seemed to be working very hard at being strong for them but the tears just wouldn’t listen. They got to the room she had been moved to and Constance appeared to be the only one without a worried face in the vicinity; her calm mien spoke volumes of her new location.

Though it was the same distance they had traversed countless times before, the drive home was unusually long and the silence was almost deafening. As they got into the house, Constance’s younger sister; Esther, met the train of quiet loved ones and she instantly got the message; her big sister won’t be coming home anytime soon…or ever. One would have thought gravity focused on her briefly seeing how fast she was on the floor; crying and kicking in protest to the unpalatable reality set before her.

Not so long afterwards, the living room filled up with many people who had heard the news from near and far; including those who had not always been there to celebrate good things that had happened to the family in times past. Like Titus, Juliet was receiving calls from almost as many contacts as were on her phone book as was the case with all her siblings. However, in Martina’s case, Jimmy; her husband, became an impromptu PA in a bid to keep the news from her until she arrived the family house. And Samuel? Well, he arrived town no sooner than he heard the news too and his countenance told the whole story – if death had been human, he would have torn it to shreds!

As the house filled with loved ones and friends, the elders of the church stepped up to the plate as words of hope and comfort were released to both the bereaved and those that came to show their love. That evening was the first in the series of many that would see people coming and calling in to show their love and condolence to the family.

I could go on telling details of this story but I have a feeling it would be a more rounded perspective when Martina, Jimmy, Samuel, Juliet, Princess, Debby and others get to comment sometime later. I believe they’ll be sharing their own experience of what that day felt like but more importantly, who Constance is to them.

For Emmanuel; someone I happen to know rather well, these are some of his thoughts:

Live truthfully: Constance had a tough time pretending that something wrong wasn’t. She didn’t have too many friends because of this but when she passed on, some who used to “beef” her became inspired by her life, love, care, respect etc.

Live joyfully: among other things, many knew her for her special dance and sonorous voice. Hardly is there a dull moment around her…

Live generously: she is a generous giver. Yes; I used ‘is’ because she’s still giving as it were…if this note inspires you in any way, the point is made.

Live passionately: she served with her heart…a passion that  was sometimes misunderstood…

…and the list goes on…

She would always say:

“whatever cannot speak should not be smarter than you ”

This is more or less a testimony to her vibrant and possibility thinking.

Like I said moments ago, I’ll leave the rest of the story to the characters; named and unnamed above.

I’m sure Emmanuel and his siblings would love to be a much more improved version of the sort of parent Constance was; little wonder he’s smiling right now as he’s thinking to himself “how exactly am I going to end this missive now?”

- 'Bayor Emmanuel Martins


  1. What more can I say... You have said it all!
    (Thank you dear - on point as always)
    Mummy left too early.
    But I'm glad for the time God allowed us to spend together.
    Her memory will be cherished for ever.
    - Juliet

  2. Even though I am not aware of any scripture that says that God is a mother to the motherless, I can assure you He plays the role pretty well.
    Even though I would give anything for Him to play the role through Constance Shola Martins, He chose to remove the 'middle woman' in 2007.
    One thing l know for sure is this: the Holy Spirit is COMFORTER.
    Constance Shola was a mother indeed and a mother in Israel.
    She accomplished so much with little resources in every area.
    You remain my role model.
    Frankly I am yet to meet a mother who was just there for her family like you were.
    Your memory remains blessed.
    - Martina

  3. All i can say is that Constance Shola Martins was simply an amazing woman. As mentioned above, she was a woman whose passion for the things of God was simply on overdrive!
    I remember clearly that there were times that she would fold up the rear seat of her 504 station wagon and load the vehicle with broken blocks so as to use in 'mending' or 'fixing' the muddy road that led to the church! and she did it with so much joy knowing full well that church members will not have the usual excuse for not attending service that week. She did it so frequently that at a particular time, some men she met at one of her favorite sites she usually visits to collect broken blocks actually offered to help ferry the blocks for her for free!
    Looking back now all i see is a woman willing to use what she had to serve the God she loved. - Otunba

  4. Wow.... So many stories... I remember her..Her transparent smile...she looked at me then and said u are one of my children,the stolen twin. When she goes shopping, I got my share of things.when there was an occasion, mummy didn't miss buying my own. It was a Short time with her but I am glad I met her and it taught me to stay generous. Bayo u might be shocked but after her death I dreamt of her... She was dressed in white and she held that beautiful smile. She was so happy and pleased and radiant. I knew she was happy where she was.....@ Esther Nyebe

  5. Hmmmmmm. What an inspiration. A true life story with a touch of Gods presence in all we do. May the Lord continually strengthen you. Amen

  6. 14 years is like 14days.Glory be to God for divine covering and direction.May the Lord continually be with us.