Tribute BY Adedayo Maxwell-Cole

Having to word-process on this occasion profoundly breaks my heart. My Auntie, as I fondly called you whenever we chat over the phone or write to you, you were a rare gem! Where do I actually start? Dear God! Where are you? This pain is so unbearable. I will never have enough of words to describe how angelic you were Auntie or the extent to which you touched the hearts of those who knew you. Whether they met you in person or not, it was that strong connection of love, kind-heartedness, generosity and wisdom. I certainly know I will never have enough space here to express my appreciation of the life you lived as well as what you meant to me. However, we cannot question God who ordained your steps and connected us through Yemi(Moji).

As some already mentioned, they never met you in person but had spoken to you numerous times. Here I am…! I am of those falling into that category and this special moment took me back to that eventful day some years ago when I received that phone call from someone who identified as my very big sister from another Mum, showing sincere appreciation for whatever it was towards Moji (Yemi another of her adorable ones. That day while I was having a stroll on 5th Avenue, New York, I hesitated at first for a second. I could not recognise the number but I could tell it was a call from England. I would not normally pick a call on a number I do not recognise but I had a strong instinct to answer the call. Then your voice came on… The lilting voice that greeted me was angelic. I felt the connection right away. You introduced yourself and I screamed, not only because I have heard so much about you but most especially because I was humbled you called and you had seen me as worthy. You equally told me you have heard such good things about me and you could not wait to meet me. So I promised to see you as soon as I get back when I realised my best friend lives not far from your neighbourhoid. You were so respectful to a point I felt practically uncomfortable but you were indeed genuine. We talked over the phone that day endlessly and it was a memorable one. Instantly, I declared myself your little brother instructing you to deal with me accordingly as if I was your blood. Then I warmed up to you as I would to my dearest sister I ever lost 30 years ago. From that moment on, you found time to check on me to see how I am ever coping especially when you gathered I had gone through a catastrophe regarding losing my sight. All you had was compassion and words of encouragement. You reminded me of the reasons I must be thankful to God. You always told me you were in awe of what I had accomplished so far. You always told me not to run myself down and be grateful for all. Auntie Tola, if I should write a book and the story of my life so far, it is never going to be complete without the mention of your name.

A couple of days before you went into hospital, you called me. You could not get through but left me a voice note on WhatsApp. I called you right back once I gathered you had called. Then we chatted on lost times endlessly. You had expressed how you could not wait to see me once this lockdown subsides. I joked a lot but I was very ecstatic we were chatting. You told me you had been self-isolating just like me and anyone else. Towards the end of our chat, your voice seemed to me a wee bit off the spectrum. I questioned on what that could be but you assured me you felt you were coming down with the flu. You and I know exactly what we talked about on phone folowing my question. You sounded full of life. You had also told me we shared the same birth month and your daughter will be getting married soon. You said…Dayo, you are not getting out of this one and don’t give me any professorial reason for not being a part. I promised and gave you my word on what transpired not to be the events I will meet you. I called you the following day but could not get through. I left you a voice note and you wrote summarily – the sound of a woman with such a grateful heart. Then the following day, I received a call you had been taken ill in hospital. Shocked I was. Confused! I called Yemi: What’s going on? Yemi stated you had been on a video call a bit that day and you had passed the message that I send you messages and you will eventually get round to responding. Never would I think I am never going to hear from you again.

Auntie Tola – you had a big impact in my life. Thank you! You were a role model. You cared and supported those in need. You had that golden heart and the way you lived confirmed you were an angel passing by but went on to be with the heavenly angels who gained another very good one to be with. Auntie Tola, to state I will miss you is an understatement. For as long as I live, you will forever be in my heart. Thank you for blessing the world with 4 golden ones. Continue to rest with the angels. Until we meet again, it’s another time, another place…

I love and miss you! Xx