(A dark post)
As I watch my belly swell with the new life that grows within me, I find my mind increasingly filled with thoughts of death. I try to shove these thoughts aside but it’s difficult to and they forever hang onto the fringes on my consciousness.
You see I have what one would call elderly parents I guess. My father is seventy-six and my mother is sixty-seven. They are both in very good health, for which I am very grateful but I know at the back of my mind that they both perhaps have on average about twenty years each left on this earth. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not being morbid or wishing the inevitable to happen, but it’s a fact of life and I know, more so now than ever before that my parents are not going to be around forever, as much as I would like them to be. Each time they come to visit or I go over to see them, they are that bit more frailer, more greyer, more older, that bit more not able
to do certain things. The last time I saw my dad after about three years, I had to go to my room for a good cry. This wasn’t the strong athletic man I grew up with, who seemed to be invincible. This was an old, frail man that stood before me. I was so shocked by what I saw and it hit me really hard.
Now, practically every time I speak with my parents the conversation almost always includes this bit…
‘PTS, do you remember Mr/Mrs. so and so?’
‘Don’t tell me. They’ve died’
‘Yes, two days ago. The funeral is next month.’
‘How old were they?’
And I have to hold myself back from blurting out ‘Oh, they tried now. That’s a good age.’ Why? Because it hits me that my parents are in the same age bracket, and suddenly sixty-five/seventy/eighty is not a good age after all.
When I think of the future and the unavoidable, I guess I worry most about my mother. As a foreigner living in Nigeria, I don’t think my mother will have many rights in the event of her husbands death in spite of the fact that she has lived in Nigeria now for almost 47 years. I may be wrong though. However, even if the law is on her side in terms of inheriting the property and other worldly possessions, it largely depends on the largesse of my dad’s extended family.
Let’s be realistic here. On the death of a woman’s husband in Nigeria, be she a foreigner or not, seven times out of ten the family can make serious wahala for her regardless of what the law says. For now, my fathers’ family have been great – all of his siblings bar one have passed on and my dad, although the youngest, put all his nieces and nephews through school. The majority of them are doing well for themselves but there is always the possibility of someone popping out of the wood work – as it so often happens back home. And it’s these wood work popping individuals that can make life very miserable for the family the man has left behind. I worry about this, I really do. In addition, there’s the fact that my parents had only girls – so there is no mighty Son to fight for us. I have no idea if my father has made a will and I have never asked. Wills are still a bit of a taboo subject as the person you are asking usually tends to think that you are planning their demise.
And even if the worst case scenario doesn’t play out i.e. some stranger wanting to claim all my dad’s property for themselves, I worry what will happen to all the property of which he has quite a few. I know for sure that I will never go back home to live – not in Benin anyway, where the said properties are – and I don’t envisage my mother remaining there on her own. Both my sisters are married to foreigners so there’s no chance of them returning either. What’s going to happen to all the stuff in the family home? What’s going to happen to all the houses? Do we keep them (to what end?) or do we sell (which would break my heart as the house I grew up in holds very many dear memories for me)? There will be so many life changing decisions to make. I get weary and depressed just thinking about it.
It’s a strange post and a sensitive subject I know but it’s the place I find myself at, at the moment.If there are any lawyers reading this post, or if you are knowledgeable about what the rights of foreigners married to Nigerians are I would really appreciate some advice or signpost me in the direction where I can look for further information.
Labels: Death, Family, Law, Nigeria, Rights, Wills, Women