In Tribute to a Fine Lady [Archives:2000/06/Focus]

February 7 2000

Common Sense
By: Hassan Al-Haifi
“Son, please straighten your room and get rid of all this garbage! If your mother ever say you leaving your room like this, she would never look at your face again, after giving it a whack or two,” said the father to his son who was gathering his things rather haphazardly without showing any sense of organization. His room was messy on account of his hard studying in preparation for the final Secondary School Examinations just a few months away.
“Father, your are always stating: ‘if your mother saw this, if your mother was around, etc.’ on just about every occasion. How is it that my mother left so many impressions on you, that even after 10 years since she passed away, you – and many others who knew her Ð continue to bring back memories of her?” inquired the boy, who only had scant memories of his departed mother, since he was only eight years old at the time of her tragic death of chronic liver disease.
“My son, this is one of the bounties of Allah bestowed upon you, to compensate you for the loss of your mother at such an early age in your life that you should still encounter your mother’s presence in the minds of people who knew her and loved her. Your mother, God bless her soul, was that rare breed of woman that exhumed warmth, kindness, piety and sheer goodness in everything she did, said and made.” The father said while adding an extended sigh, “You should be proud of your mother by all the memories she left behind with people to recall for you”
The boy inquired, “But Father, you said that her schooling never went beyond fourth grade. How could she do all that she did being deprived of a complete education?”His father was ready with the answer: “My son your mother was educated in the School of Hard Knox, and as a Yemeni women, at the time she had sufficient enough of a start to undertake her own self-education. People who are endowed with intelligence, determination and a high sense of self-esteem discover their own paths to reach their places at the forefront of society. On the other hand the formal education that is available today can not even be relied upon to produce anything that would come close to what your mother was.
The output produced by our educational system today seems to lack any ambition for achievement and success. The graduates of the present school system even lack the sense of goodwill and community spirit that our generation was able to develop just by going to the traditional schools that lacked any modern facilities or syllabuses. Even for the development of sound personal traits, the present educational regime fails to impress upon today’s youth the significance of good manners and proper decorum. This can be clearly seen from the widespread vandalism and destruction that schools throughout the country are being subjected to. You see son; your mother found ways to teach herself most of the things women need to know to keep her household in top-notch gear.
In addition, she never failed to search for knowledge on those matters that will help her to ensure that her family shall remains dignified and without having to face any feeling of deprivation. On the other hand she had a wholistic concept of family life, where the roles of each individual integrated well to work towards the enhancement of the welfare of the family as a whole. Such being the case, even the head of the household found the right atmosphere that enabled him to face the hardships and challenges of meeting the family’s needs, while at the same time giving the support needed to help overcome some of the pitfalls and disappointments that a father must overcome. This is especially important for the father who refuses to compromise between principal and narrow interests and honor and greed. Your mother was sharp and easily picked up any new material that was useful to enhance the family’s well being, in addition to giving her the satisfaction of achievement by learning trades that helped to increase the family’s income and add to our enjoyment of life and our ability to enjoy some of the modern amenities of life. Thanks to her efforts, your father was able to even save from his salary for future emergencies and needs, when the going gets tough. On the other hand, she did not forego any material that will enhance her artistic and aesthetic taste. More important, she maintained an insistence on projecting traditional values and traits that are so important in projecting a sound family where faith and trust in God has its paramount influence in deciding the family’s course in life. She was also strongly attached to the Koran, where she found the strong inspiration to keep her spirits always on the up side, even when the torment and agony she suffered from her liver disease was at its peak and produced the severest challenges to the human will.”
The son then asked: “How did the illness affect family life? How were you able to take care of us and at the same time look after your external responsibilities?””With faith and determination, it is much easier to overcome any difficulties posed by the hardships of life. On the other hand, your mother never succumbed to the disease and never allowed her spirit of life to wane, no matter how much she suffered. Believe me she suffered, but only her eyes could tell you that behind all this verve there is pain Ð very strong and very taxing. But, it is Allah’s will and there is no sense in letting others also suffer along with you. So, keep it all inside, that was her resolve and one must let life go on as normal as one can make it. Her strong faith enabled her to find significant periods of respite and relief from the agonizing attacks that confront the carriers of the strong viral disease. God, with his mercy, was kind enough to her and to us to enable us to bear with the times when the disease had the upper hand in her. The periods when she was ill and really suffering were generally short and manageable for most of the years, Thank God, but it would be difficult to give you an idea the extent of the suffering she went through, because of the formidable strength she had to keep it all inside.”
The son was still interested in knowing more about his mother’s and the family’s predicament: “How did you manage to meet the high costs involved in dealing with the disease?”It was not long before the answer came out: “Son, thanks to God and your mother’s undaunting faith and prayers, somehow we never faced that much difficulty in being able to tackle the liver disease attacks before they got uncontrollable. For the most part of the 10 years of her illness, your father hit upon much greater luck in finding the means to overcome the high costs involved. Of course the economic picture of Yemen was much better than and it was much easier to get a hold of cash whenever one needed to meet a certain emergency. Things somehow just worked out almost by themselves.”
The son asked: “Father, how was it that you were able to keep yourself together knowing that, sooner or later this disease was bound to do away with its victim, especially as there does not seem to be any means in the country to help people and their families who face the hardships of having members of their families with this horrible disease?””Son, no matter how hard life can get and no matter what challenges one faces there has to be a way through the predicament. It is really up to the individual and how much strength within one is endowed with. You must bear in mind that, despite her feeble condition, your mother, in her short life, was able to instill the importance of having a woman with a strong character, determination and faith in the raising of a family. Without these attributes, life for all the members of the family would have been void of any hope, spirit or purpose. That is why, even the memories of your mother continue to be a strong source of inspiration for all of us even in these very trying times.”