Adewumi Adejumo, the eldest child of a couple, Pa Moses Adejumo and Madam Cecelia Adejumo, who died a few days apart and were buried on the same day in Okemesi Ekiti, tells ABIODUN NEJO the circumstances surrounding their death
How old were your parents?
I am Adewumi Adejumo. I am about 43 years old. I am an equipment mechanical engineer. I work in Lagos. I am their eldest child. There are only three of their children left. My mother, Madam Cecilia Adejumo, was 66 years old and my dad, Pa Moses Adejumo, died at the age of 74.
When did they pass away?
My mother died on August 1, 2023, and my father died on August 11, 2023. God knows better why they died around the same time. My father was sick for three to four years. I think it was my dad’s sickness that later affected my mum. It got to a stage where both of them were down with sickness and eventually, it took my mum’s life before my dad died some days later.
What was the nature of the sickness?
It was a type of sickness related to old age.
Why did you decide to bury them on the same day?
In my reasoning, I thought it was the love from an early stage that my parents had. I think if my dad had died before my mum, she might not have died. But since my mum died before him, he might have felt that he had lost the person who was taking care of him. That is my understanding. So, we thought it wise to bury them on the same day. Initially, after my mum’s death, I fixed her burial date, but when my dad died before the date, I just felt it was better to bury them at the same time. The implication was that they made it easier for me since I only had to spend once what I would have spent twice.
Was it easy for you to convince your extended family members to agree to the same burial date?
Members of the two families had always supported me. We were together on all issues and held meetings together. When my parents were ill, the two families were with me always; they were part of everything all along.
Where was your mum from?
My dad and mum were from Okemesi Ekiti. My dad was from Ile Odofin, while my mother was from Asunnua.
Did the tradition of not burying deceased female children in the homes of their husbands not apply to your mother?
I do not know about that tradition. All I know is that we took her corpse to her family in their quarters, they did the necessary rites and prayers and we returned it to our place for the burial ceremonies.
How did your community react to your plan to bury your parents on the same day?
I have not seen nor heard of any reaction for now. But I don’t know whether people will start reacting on social media now that we have done the burial. I have yet to recover from the stress. It’s when I recover that I will have time to check social media for reactions. But then, ours was not the first time a couple was buried on the same day, even in Okemesi Ekiti. I can remember one like that. Although the couple died about three months apart, they were buried on the same day.
What new lessons did you learn from burying your parents on the same day?
All glory to God who knows and understands everything. There were many lessons in the incident. I don’t know how to share them with you now.
Who was your dad?
Pa Moses Adejumo was a great and loving father. He stood with us as a real father would do for the children. He never toyed with what pertained to the progress and development of his children.
Where did he live?
He lived in Lagos. It was when he took ill that he was brought to Okemesi Ekiti. Our mum had been in Okemesi long before dad was brought back home when he was ill so that mum could take care of him.
How many wives did your dad marry?
He married two wives.
Where are the children of the second wife?
His second wife had only one (child). That is why dad’s children are three. My mother had two children.
Is his second wife alive?
The second woman (wife) died a long time ago. He (my step-brother) had no objection to the burial of my dad and mum on the same day. It was not my decision, but that of the family. It was what the family said that we followed. There was nothing like my half-brother taking the decision.
What will you remember your dad for?
I will remember him for many things. Let me tell you, my dad was responsible for whatever I am in life today. As a student in those days, while growing up, I realised that I was not cut out for school. I was very stubborn. So, when it got to a stage, I said I would no longer go to school but would have to sign up for an apprenticeship programme. Then I was in Okemesi. So, I went to meet my dad in Lagos. I had been going to Lagos for holidays before then. When I met him, I told him that I had made up my mind not to go to school and that I would have to learn a vocation.
What did he tell you?
He asked me what exactly I wanted to do. At that time, I had some friends who were already driving for a living, so I told my dad that I would like to become a driver. But he rejected the idea, saying that such would not happen in his house. He added that he and I would have to sign an undertaking that I willingly chose not to go to school and that I wanted to learn a vocation. We signed the undertaking and he said he would prefer I went into what he was doing for a living.
What was his occupation?
He was a heavy-duty earthmoving truck operator. So, he urged me to go into the engineering aspect of it, that is, the repair of heavy-duty equipment. That job that he introduced me to and directed me to do is what I now use to take care of my family. That was what God used to help me and to take care of him too, though he did not live long enough to reap the gains.
It appears your father loved education. What were his other likes and dislikes?
What I can say about him is that he did not want the children to pass through the experiences he had while growing up. It was said that he was very stubborn while growing up and he knew the repercussions. He did not want children to steal as well. He hated stealing with passion. He liked his children being gainfully employed and hardworking. He wanted the children to be serious with whatever they did.
Was he a strict man?
There was this experience that hurt me, but what could I have done? He was my father. At that time, I was married and already had three children, but because my dad was blessed and had a house in Lagos, I was living in an apartment in his house there. A child of my half-brother offended me, I flogged the child and he kept crying till my dad returned from work. What the child did was bad, but my dad flogged me because I flogged that child.
Did he not consider you as an adult, the head of a family, and father of three?
He was a disciplinarian (laughs). He flogged me that day.
What were his beliefs about life and death?
Baba was the kind of person who took life simple. He believed everyone had only one life. He loved and rallied around his extended family and friends. He was generous with whatever he had. He was there for everybody.
Did your mother have a similar personality?
She was a mother, a real and loving mother. I pray that if there is an opportunity for another life, I would want her to be my mother again. She was a supportive mother, the type that stood by her children. She was a great mother. Despite the crisis and differences between her and my dad over another woman, she never joked about the betterment and wellness of her children at all. She did not because of that disagreement remarry or engage in adulterous acts. She was faithful till death. Following the disagreement, she left Lagos and returned to Okemesi. In Okemesi, she was in my dad’s family house and that was where she was all along till he was brought back home before her death and consequently that of my dad. My mum was a simple person with a broad perspective to life, that it should be well with everyone. She did not mind offering her last meal to others in need. She was a cheerful giver.
I will miss many things about my mother because there was no point in life when she abandoned me. Never! She kept praying for me and my siblings. With her way of life, nobody knew that the second wife’s son was not my mum’s biological child. People thought we were all her children and could not establish the fact that we were from different mothers. My mum didn’t like her children to be stubborn, or ill-mannered. She hated children who steal, so she ensured that we were content with what we had and not covetous.
Can you recall one or two occasions when she reprimanded you over wrongdoing?
While growing up, I hawked wares for her, but when it got to a stage when I was in Junior Secondary School 3 or something like that, I started running after girls and looking for girlfriends. The result was that I didn’t like the idea of hawking because I started seeing myself as a big boy. But she stuck to her guns that I had to hawk for all to be well between us. She insisted that I had no choice since it was from the proceeds that she fed and took care of us. She said hawking was a way for us to assist her.
But when it got to a stage, she gave it a second thought and excused me from hawking. Then there was a market called Mogun Market in Okemesi Ekiti at that time, but I don’t know whether it still exists, but it was a daily market. She used to display her wares there and ask me to sell, while my younger one went out to hawk the wares.
What plans did your mum have for her children?
My mum had great and good plans for her children. She never wanted her children to go through the same suffering she underwent in life. She said it and I know that she went through hard times in life.
Do you think your parents were given a befitting burial?
Yes. It was befitting. I thank God and I thank the families of my dad and my mum. They stood by us. My two younger ones are still struggling to be on their feet; the family was aware of this and stood by us. People thought I was the only one responsible for everything, not knowing that the families were in full support with necessary assistance. This made the event interesting, easy, and worthwhile. They were given a befitting burial and I am sure my dad and mum will be happy where they are resting eternally.