Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My friend Winnie emailed to say that she laughed when she saw my blog address, because it reminds her of “nerd.” I wrote back to say that when I head out to walk somewhere, I probably qualify, with my backpack (water bottle attached), visor, and a pedometer attached to my waist. The goal this morning was to visit Coneilia, my best friend in Cameroon and one of my favorite people in the world. Coneilia came to work for us when she was a teenage bride (She fudged her age to get the job) and stayed with us for the next seventeen years. She was a second mother to my daughters and a friend and confidant to me. She saw me through the ups and downs of parenthood and assorted illnesses and tragedies, including the deaths of my mother and father. I did the same for her. When we left here in 2003, my greatest grief, and Lexi’s and Karen’s, was leaving Coneilia. Now she is working at a hostel (like a dorm, only more family-like) run by one of the missions that is served by the high school. Mostly she cooks. As I walked in the door, the familiar smell of her banana bread almost made me weep. (Then the parrot near the door started whistling the theme song from The Bridge over the River Kwai, and the moment was lost.) Coneilia is a strong woman. She never had children of her own, which is about the worst thing that can befall a Cameroonian. So she “adopted” a niece and nephew, we had ahich is common. She brought them to live with her, paid their school fees, fed and cared for them. Her husband Sunday died of AIDS the year that we left, but Coneilia went on to build her own house (almost with her own hands) and to fight the government bureaucracy for Sunday’s military pension. Now, in addition to her job at the hostel, she takes in boarders and says yes to anyone who asks her for help. We had a wonderful visit, and I left with a fresh loaf of banana bread for “Uncle Paul.”

1 comment:

  1. I miss Coneilia and banana bread! Did you remember to ask her for her recipe for beans and rice? Please oh please?