Cherry was the first born girl in Greg’s family, born 1952 when Kenyans were already mobilizing themselves for a show down with the colonialists. Around the same time when there was a State of Emergency.
She came at a time when funds were low, mom Stacey was a stay at home mom. Greg, her dad struggled with manual work; masonry, gardener, landscaping anything that would feed his young family.
Greg grew up without a father figure as his dad, Mr. Wanyoike died in exile . He was already on the wanted list by the white settlers for being among the leaders of a rebel group.
Greg and his new family lived in an old wooden structure that was given to them by his classmate, which at the time was a store until they moved in.
Stacey was a high school dropout his family would not afford to keep her in school for luck of school fees. Greg was a graduate and had promised Stacey “Honey, one day you will complete your high school and also attain a Heart surgeon title”.
Stacey’s dream was to become a heart surgeon, her brother David had succumbed to a heart problem, they could not access the medical attention required, it was preserved for the elite and white. and she had vowed to study and help those in need of a heart surgeon with no finances.
Greg had promised Stacey’s parents to take care of their daughter and that he would ensure she was at all times at peace.
The Stephen’s family blessed the couple and off was Stacey to Greg’s arms. Cherry was a little chubby beautiful girl. Stacey ensured she was well feed, clean and warm.
A neighbor’s wife, Mrs. Raphael came every morning to clean Cherry’s soiled clothes and cook for the Greg’s. She was a blessing to them.
She would bring with her a jar of milk, make tea and pour it in a flask, to ensure Stacey was well feed and warm for the baby. Greg would have a cup every evening. Mrs. Raphael was a fairly aged lady, she was 65 years.
Her husband was a son of one of Kenya's colonizers Mr. Clifford James who had passed on the same year the Greg’s moved to the neighborhood,
in fact Stacey stayed on with her to the day of the burial. This friendship grew from this time on. Mrs. Raphael enjoyed a better life owing to her husband's background.
Her three children were all overseas and in a sad face teary eyes she would often tell Stacey, “You are my only child, they all left.”
Greg would every evening check on Mrs. Raphael and thank her for her assistance to his two girls.
She continued to help the Greg’s and this brought them closer.
When Cherry was nine months, she brought her a small gift and requested the Greg’s not to open it till when she was eighteen. She gave them an address to her bank where they would keep it safe. Greg was hesitant with the idea.
“What if by bad luck, she doesn't get to see her eighteenth birthday?”
Mrs. Raphael answered “The LORD will keep her safe, HE will sustain her” she added, “Cherry will be a great woman, the whole world will seek her wisdom”. This brought tears to Stacey’s eyes.
As she hugged her, she whispered, “Thank you Mum, God Bless You”.
“Amen my daughter, you have a bright future. Never give up, keep your hope alive and remember God brought you to this world for a purpose.” She responded.
Greg had good news for the ladies, “I have found a new job in the city, I will be leaving on Monday (it was on a Friday), to fill the employment form and get a better house for you ladies and Cherry”.
Stacey replied, “That is so fast Honey”.
Greg assured her it was all for their own good. “Honey, you will like it there.”
Mrs. Raphael intercepted, “Stacey, listen to your husband. This will be a new life for the two of you and Cherry.”
Securing a job in the city was everyone's dream, especially those living at the village. It was an opportunity to explore one's country, more so, one would get first hand information about the government.
Mrs. Raphael faced Greg, “I will not join you, and this is where I call home. My health is failing; let me enjoy my final days here.”
“We can’t leave you behind, Mrs. Raphael; you have been a blessing to us”. Greg said
“Listen children; I was married in this neighborhood forty years back. I raised my three children in here and all left. My husband was my only companion until he passed on. You came at a time when I was desolate, and lonely.
” She added, “Greg, just let me be. The doctors gave me six months to live, Cherry’s smile and love have kept me going.”
She continued, “I feel very weak now. I will join my husband soon.”
Mrs. Raphael created a sad atmosphere and she encouraged them, “Do not be sad, this life is so uncertain only death is certain. Take this note book Greg (he did), it contains my children’s contacts”.
Greg said, “Sincerely am not comfortable with the whole issue.”
Mrs. Raphael replied, “We have been made to fear death and it’s unavoidable. Take heart Greg, you too will take the baton, one day.”
Greg asked, “How long have you been on Chemo?” Due to her connections she received her treatement in the hospitals.
Mrs. Raphael answered, “For the last eighteen months. It was detected at stage three. My husband also succumbed to it.”
Greg was empathetic, “Sorry about that. Are you taking any drugs now?”
“yes.” She answered
Stacey said, “Mrs. Raphael you are a God sent angel in time of disguise. Thanks so much for being there for each one of us.”
“Anytime, my daughter. You are most welcome.” Mrs. Raphael replied
“I have to leave now. Goodnight Greg’s. See you tomorrow.” She added
Greg helped her stand and escorted her to her house as Stacey and Cherry silently followed on. Once they to her door,
Greg opened and helped her rest on her comfortable beautiful bed. They all hugged her goodnight. As they left she told them, “When am gone, this bed is a precious gift to you two.”
“Thank you mum, you won’t be leaving us any time soon. Rest, see you tomorrow.” Stacey said as they closed the door behind them.
“Am so disturbed, Mr. Raphael’s death really affected her. I think one of her children should have remained behind.” Stacey said
“I will try and get to talk to one of them tonight.” Greg replied
They got into their house, and Grey got the small note book.
To his surprise, it was a small St. James bible. “Honey,” he called out
“Yes, Love, am coming.” Stacey replied as she laid Cherry on her bed.
“Honey, it wasn’t a contact notebook, it’s a bible.” Greg informed her
“She can really be an encoded persona.” Stacey thought aloud
“I don’t remember seeing any of her children at the burial of her husband.” Greg said
“The MC said they would come later to be with the mom.” Stacey reminded him
“and they have never appeared” Greg noticed.
“I think Mrs. Raphael is hiding something from us.” He added
“I will try and get more information from her tomorrow.” She said
“you need to.” Greg affirmed
“There is hot chocolate in the flask. Will you have it?”. Stacey asked
“yes please. Thank you love.” Greg was grateful
Stacey came back with two cups filled with hot chocolate and gave one to Greg . “Thanks.” He said
“Most welcome my love. How was your day?.” She asked
“I love the taste of lemon in it, its so relaxing.” he said.
“My day was so glad. Am happy I will now afford a decent life for my girls.” He added.
“Congratulations, am so happy for you honey, you have done enough to your muscles. You have my blessings” She congratulated him
“I will leave you and Cherry for a while. I need to get a house for you, a better one at that.” Greg said,
“It won’t be for long.” He added
“At least it will give us time to be with Mrs. Raphael.” Stacey said
“Has Tabitha (Mrs. Raphael’s house help) ever told you anything weird about her?” Greg asked
“No. they are not very close although she has worked for the last ten years in her house. Mrs. Raphael can really be secretive.” Stacey answered
“Get as much information as you can tomorrow.” Greg said
“I will.” She said
“I have enjoyed the hot chocolate, a perfect choice the cold weather.” Greg said as he got closer to her and kissed her passionately. His hands were all over her and she reciprocated. That night for the first time, they made love on their old rugged couch.
“I love you.” Greg whispered
“I love you more” she whispered back.
Greg went to check on his Cherry, covered her well and kissed her forehead. “Honey am turning off the lights get to bed” He said
“go ahead love, am heading there.” She replied
Greg turned off the lights and kissed Stacey goodnight. Stacey did a prayer
The following morning, Greg was the first one to wake up. As he was preparing breakfast for his girls, he heard a knock at the door.
He went to answer. “Good Morning Greg, I brought the milk. Mrs Raphael has requested me to.” Tabitha said
“How is she fairing?” he asked
“She isn't feeling well. I have not seen her like that.” Tabitha replied
“What’s her condition?” Greg asked
“She called me and requested me to bring the milk. I went back to ask whether she had any information for you or Stacey, she didn’t talk. She hasn’t said a word since. All she does is nod.” Tabitha replied
“Thank you Tabitha. We will come to check on her.” Greg said
“In a few minutes we will be there.” He assured her
Immediately he woke his wife up, “Morning honey.” He greeted her
“Honey morning. What’s up today? You rarely wake us up this early” Stacey said half asleep
“Have a seat my love.” Greg said
“We had a storm last night.” Stacey said
“yes we did. Have your breakfast sugar, you have a long day today” he said
Stacey was swallowed by the couch as she had her breakfast.
“Of course.”Stacey replied. “I can see Mrs. Raphael had already brought the milk. Honey you would have woken me up” she added
“How is she today?” she asked
“Tabitha brought the milk,she says Mrs. Raphael is unwell. Not speaking, she needs medical attention.” Greg replied
“Let me dress up, am gonna go check on her.” Stacey said
“have you taken all your breakfast?” Greg asked
“yes, thanks love” she replied
“Check on Cherry” she said as hurriedly left for Mrs. Raphael’s house
She found Tabitha trying to carry her out to a waiting ambulance. “She is worse, I have contacted her doctor and she has requested me to take her to the clinic.” Tabitha said
“Lets go” Stacey replied as they both carried her to the ambulance
The nurse at the ambulance placed the oxygen mask on her face as she listened to her pulse rate. “ her heart isn't stable” she said
“I smell danger, we are 100 meters away, kindly tell the cardiologist its an emergency.” She said on the car radio
Stacey lost her breath for a moment. Tabitha sat silent and scared(in deep thoughts)
On reaching the clinic compound, they found a team waiting for them ready to receive a great friend to the hospital, Mrs. Raphael. She was wheeled out of the ambulance. The Cardiologist tried to electric shock her heart to no avail. He left the room without a word. All other nurses also left one by one without a word until Stacey stopped one, “What’s happening?”she asked
“We have lost her.” She replied as she headed to the ward.
Stacey tried to shake her, call out her name, ”Mum, Mum, Mum, you just can’t leave us.”, “We have lots of unfinished business.”
Tabitha hugged her and whispered in her ear, “She is home. Let her rest”.
Stacey couldn't say a word, she really cried remembering the conversation they had yester night. A nurse approached them, “Sorry ladies. Am nurse George. I would like to place Mrs. Raphael’s body in our funeral home.”
“Are you her family? He asked.” Please sign for me this forms. He added
“Stacey sign the papers.” Tabitha said
“Actually we are not her family but we have lived with her for the last ten years and never seen a sister or an in-law come to visit her.: Tabitha added
“Family: are the people who love and care about you.” George said
As Stacey signed the papers, Tabitha was asking George what might have caused her death. “She might have had a heart attack.” He said
“would you love a postmortem done?”he asked
“It’s not necessary.” Stacey replied
“Would you know when you would be laying her body to rest?” George asked
“In about a week” Stacey replied
“Ladies you don’t have to worry about the home fees, she had paid in advance.” George told the ladies
“She told me last night that the only thing we are certain about in this life is death. She was damn true.” Stacey informed them
“Prepare for it too ladies. You don’t want to leave your loved ones with a burden.” George said
“Kindly provide us with the hospital contacts, we will call and inform you about the D.day” Stacey requested
“take this” George said as he handed over to her a business card
“Good bye George, we will keep in touch.” Stacey said as they stood to leave
“I wish you well” George replied
They both left. They talked about Mrs. Raphael. Her love for people. her love for the LORD.
They both agreed they had lost a heroine, a mentor, a best friend. “Mrs. Raphael mentioned about her children in the overseas, has she ever told you about the same?’ Stacey asked
“Yes she often told me about the same, although I have never heard even a phone call from them.” Tabitha replied
“Her husband was eager about to tell me about them but something would always come and we would postpone. He passed on without telling me.” Tabitha added
Stacey narrated to her what had transpired the previous night in her house, the notebook only to find out later after she had left that it was a bible. They both agreed it was an uphill task to even get the contacts for the children.
They met a crowd at Mrs. Raphael’s compound. Stacey would hear them say, “we have lost a friend.” Others were saying “we will miss her.”,
An elderly lady approached them and as she hugged them she comforted them saying, “we are sorry ladies”
Tabitha replied, “thank you Mrs. Eric”, “we need to lay her to rest” she added
“Tabitha, we buried his husband without informing any family member as she requested. Would you have any information about them?” Mrs. Eric asked
“none” she replied
“Mrs. Raphael was so secretive, no one knows about her background, not even her closest friends” Mrs. Eric pointed out
“Their family lawyer will be present at the burial, we might uncover the ravel”, Tabitha said
“Tabitha be in charge, am going to check on my Cherry” Stacey said as she left for her house
A committee to foresee the preparations for the burial was formed, Mrs. Eric was appointed the spokeswoman. The Burial Date was set. The family was really an issue but they resolved to wait for the family lawyer whom they believed had concrete information about the family.
The committee was informed that Mrs. Raphael had paid all fees including having chosen the clothing her body would be(placed in).
Greg was appointed o talk on behalf of the family. They requested Tabitha to stay on for a few months as they get a care taker for the home. Tabitha agreed.
On Sunday night, a day before the burial, something happened that would be in the mind of the friends and neighbors’ who had gathered in the compound. The episode would later(after ten years) repeat in Greg’s and Stacey’s bedroom.
The vehicles were waiting in the compound to ferry the friends to the Funeral home finally lay Mrs. Raphael’s body. A black Range Rover car appeared and drove into the compound. A tall dark haired gentleman alighted and for a while stole the moment.
He gestured for people to gather and listen to him. Many thought he must be one of the children that Mrs.Raphael fondly talked about.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen” He started
“Am Mrs. Raphael’s lawyer and you can refer to me as Brown” he introduced himself
“We are gathered here as friends, neighbors, spectators, family to bid our dear mama goodbye.” He added
“I have lots of information about this family and I will let you know when we have laid mama’s body in the right place” He continued
“I don’t know what you had decided about Mama’s Body, Her request was to have it cremated and the ashes put in the earn. Greg and Stacey will keep them”. He said
There was murmuring in the crowd..
“More will astonish you, please stay calm” he said
“Please get into the vehicles, we will have a short Mass at the home as mama had requested and after the cremation will be done,” he added
“We will have a short briefing later” He informed them
“Let’s Go” he said as he got into his range leading them
In low tones, people consulted about mama’s decision to have her ashes in Greg’s family. They were aware of mama’s love for Stacey,but what beat them that. “why them and not Tabitha whom she has been with for most of her life” one asked
Another asked, “would it possible that there are family tires between her and Greg?”
Another Rhetoric question, “Would Stacey be mama’s daughter?”
Tabitha sat silently behind and no one had noticed her until she replied, “Stacey isn't mama’s daughter neither is Greg.” They are both very new in this neighborhood.
In fact it was mama who oriented them” she added
The passengers got silent as they approached the funeral home.
Brown was the first to alight; he marched inside the building and came out only to find the crowd waiting for a word from him. He removed a paper from a file in his hand,
“Please listen keenly to the following names, they will witness the cremation as mama had requested..”
“Mr. and Mrs. Erica, Greg and Stacey, Tabitha”
As the five took to the front, the murmuring was even louder
“Please be patient. It won’t be long” He assured them
The five followed him inside the home. He got to one of the offices and they followed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, am happy to meet you,” he started
“Mama did love the five of you so much that anytime she mentioned any of your names to me, she would water her eyes.
“I have got personal letters for each one of you from Mama”(he said as he opened the brief case to handover to them, “open them once home after the function” he added
to be continued