Lola is 59 and getting married again. She has been single for 27 years and had, with the grace and help of God, raised four children all by herself. She made the announcement at New Year dinner with her children in Canada and all four of them dropped their cutleries. Their eyebrows simultaneously shot up. That was followed by what felt like an hour-long silence. Then, somehow, they all found their voices at the same time.
‘No Mum, Haba!’
‘Tell us you are joking!’
‘What do you mean?’
‘What will people say?’
‘Really, seriously, you are almost 60, for crying out loud, what do you need marriage for?
It was a sad end to a well laid out delicious family dinner. All Lola’s four children were bewildered, confused and didn’t understand why their mother wanted to marry in her old age.
Why are children like that? I’m smiling even as I type this.
We – you and I – were once children and I can bet we would also have rejected the idea, perhaps more violently, if our mothers announced that they were re-marrying. I guess it’s part of being a child and protecting what you consider your territory.
Imagine some guy wanting to move in on your father’s territory. Imagine your mother moving out of the family house into another man’s home or even changing her surname. Bros, it’s difficult to even picture, right? A child is a child. No matter how old he or she is, his mummy is his mummy,. Case closed.
That exactly is why a widow or single mother needs to explain patiently and lovingly why she wants to remarry to her children. She must have her arguments ‘documented’ with a well rehearsed speech. And that exactly was what Lola did. She explained lovingly but stood her ground.
“I was armed to the teeth with my points but with love oozing out of my every pore. I knew their objections were coming from a place of love, concern, even fear. It was going to be a totally new arrangement and I understood it was going to take time for them to get used to it,” Lola said.
Lola asked her first daughter who is now married if she would want her (Lola) to move in with her at least throughout 2024. The girl gasped.
First point: Today’s children do not want their mothers living permanently with them. Yet they don’t want their mothers to live with anybody else. Why? Did she commit an offence punishable by eternal loneliness? Don’t laugh. Your son and daughter-in-law will transform into something you can’t recognise the moment you become a live-in grandmother. It is better for all concerned, and that includes the grandchildren, if grandma occasionally visits or they even have to beg her to do so.
None of Lola’s children wanted ‘Mummy’s trouble’ permanently under their roofs. She raised them with two iron hands and they turned out well, but now, they love to love her from a distance.
“But we can employ a domestic staff for you, so you won’t be all alone in the house”. Lola’s son suggested.
“Then, I reminded them of a story of a former Nigerian governor whose mother was killed by a domestic staff and another friend whose driver and maid strangled and dumped in a well.
They remembered how I was traumatised for weeks after we discovered my friend’s decomposing corpse in a well.
I told them I didn’t begrudge them their decision to live abroad but that they should consider carefully my situation, my position in the current equation. I had retired from the bank, I have plenty of time in my hands, most of which I spend doing one church activity or the other but I still have to return to my quiet apartment at the end of each day. And for a whole day, I may not have a full sentence of an adult conversation. The only companion I had at meal time is either Netflix or DSTV.
These days, we are beginning to see more and more women in their 50s and 60s taking twilight shots at marriage. Not for the purpose of making babies (It’s late anyway), but for companionship. Some of these women are accomplished in business and their chosen careers. They have their own money and have made names. So you cannot accuse them of using marriage as social ladder.
I have a friend who was widowed by a plane crash that took her husband when she was only 26! Yes. Sad. The thing is she has vowed she must marry again even if she has to wait till 70 to do it. “I did not get to enjoy marriage. I have raised my child alone, lived alone, done everything all by myself. This cannot be the life I will die living. I want to be loved, be cared for by a man who will marry me before God and man.” She’s 52 and determined.
For people like my friend and Lola, marriage is worth a second shot. For others, once is enough. It does not matter if the first marriage ended in widowhood or divorce. There are women who the lonely years have wearied and worn out too deeply to try again. The choice to remain single until they close their eyes in death should also be respected for what it is: their choice.
However, loneliness is as real as life itself. Even God acknowledged it. That’s why the holy book recorded marriage as an institution formed by God to tackle loneliness. Companionship is key and in a woman’s latter years, having a man by your side is not a luxury. After devoting decades to career and raising children, folding up and waiting for death is definitely not an appropriate reward for the sacrifices that single parenting brings. If a woman suddenly finds herself alone, widowed or divorced and decides to invest her all in her children and career instead of remarrying, she deserves to attempt to live again. She deserves to remarry if she so chooses.
And for those who think that sex and companionship are the same thing, shame on you! Sex is on every street corner. Any man who can get an erection can service a waist. There are also runs boys and side guys. If you have the money, you can buy sex. Indeed, you can pick and choose. Companions are scarce and rare. They are not for sale. A companion is the dude you look forward to seeing and spending time with, your scrabble and ludo partner, your gossip mate and down memory-lane friend. For a 50-year-old woman, he’s the guy you can dance oldies with and sing Boney-M songs with. The dude you can argue about which came first; Spear or Drum magazine? You can go into the deep recesses of local markets to shop for old brands of any product and drive back home in a BMW. All the gossips and games can lead to needle-work or not. Sex is just an added advantage when it comes to twilight union.
The twilight wife will remind her husband of his anti-hypertensive drugs and he will also drive her to the hospital in the dead of the night if he notices her breathing is laboured. They wake each other to pray and decide fasting days. He scrubs her back and she massages his knees.
‘You don’t need a husband. Your children are your husband.’ You’ve heard that too, right? It is balderdash, absolute rubbish. If you don’t believe me, ask a 70-year-old whose children are in America and Europe on days she needs real assistance and all she has is herself and her weak knees and stiff back. Ask a 75-year-old woman who has suffered a heart attack and survived because a neighbour found her just in time. The children will always love you but when they leave the nest, do what will lengthen your days in good health and give your children little or no stress.
Remarrying daddies and their matters arising? That’s a matter for another day, soon