If this author was to talk about all there is to talk about her parents, this would stop being a blog about a journey, wouldn't it? Let's move along, shall we?
Welcome back, by the way, do feel at home. Would you like some juice?
Where were we? Right.
SO...After my mom passed away on 03 October 1999 following the death of my father on 18 April 1998, I eventually had to move from Bulawayo where I had been born and raised to Chinhoyi (another city in Zimbabwe) to stay with three of my late father's sisters known to me as aunty Sheila for Shylet, aunty Mavis and aunty Ireen. Aunty Sheila was the eldest and mother of the house which essentially made her my guardian. She was a journalist by profession, a good one at that. Looking back I am so proud of all the strides she made in her career, ending up as the Chief Editor of the newspaper company she worked for at the time.
I strongly believe that in more ways than one, aunty Sheila was the closest personality match to my dad in the family. I particularly would describe her as stern, a word almost everyone uses to describe my dad. As a 5-8-year old at the time, I never truly understood why she used to snap at some of the things I used to do or rebuke me for them (although I truly deserved it if I might add).
One thing that I could never take away though is how much she loved me. I wholeheartedly believed it even then. To me, she was quite invincible, and at the time I believed that she could afford to buy me anything in the world and that if she didn't, it just meant that she didn't want to. I still fondly remember how she used to buy me a memorably delicious cupcake on our way from church every Sunday or cucumbers and the like when we would pass by the vegetable ladies on the street corners. I still absolutely love cucumbers to date, in a very exaggerated way. I appreciated every little thing for some reason, even getting new flip-flops was such an event for me.
I believe my season as aunty Sheila's baby was my most notorious stage to date. She took care of me from kindergarten stage to grade 2 in primary school. Due to my lack of desire to make friends at school for whatever reason, I used to entertain myself with some of the world's most unlikely means. I used to sharpen my whole pencil during break time for instance despite knowing fully well that I needed to present that very same pencil at home as proof that I had brought it back. I would then proceed to 'give myself' every other classmate's pencil instead. Needless to say, I would watch every child cry for their pencil that they could no longer find as it was cunningly tucked away in my school uniform collar by Yours Truly. Ultimately, when I was asked to bring forth my pencil at home, I would present roughly 15 different pencils that looked nothing like my own and get quite a thorough beating for it.
Also, from the time I set foot in kindergarten school, I developed a love for reading. A love so profound that I was willing to sneakily 'borrow myself' textbooks from our class. It truly got so bad that at one point when I was in grade 1, I had a satchel full of such books that I actually did read. This was all to the shock of my aunt who made sure she accompanied me to school with them to not only return them but to have me personally confess, apologize and commit to never doing it again. Nothing beats the disappointment, heartbreak, and disbelief my grade 1 teacher had to discover that I was capable of doing that, capable of calculatingly asking to be excused from the school assembly to go 'to the bathroom' also known as 'going to take books for myself when the classroom was empty'. Ordinarily, she mentioned that this was grounds for expulsion and made the singular decision to not take it to the Principal's office lest I get chucked out of school at just grade 1! Forget the basin of sugar that I would shamelessly finish at home time and time again. Put simply, I had an undeniable propensity to steal and do so in an extremely sneaky way.
Perhaps let's just agree that I was a lot to deal with...like the time I came from school straight to aunty Sheila's friend's house and asked her to adopt me and never let my family know where I was even if they asked because I had been told to not come without the new ruler I had lost. Albeit, despite how much I obviously stretched her to the limits (and got generously spanked for it), she was loving and intentional with me. Almost every time I deserved a spanking, she would ask me to go get my own peaches tree rod and come back to her opening her Bible to Proverbs 13:24. If you read your Bible you know this is the part she would let me know that if she spared the rod, she would spoil the child, me and that God did not want her to do that. She would explain what all of that meant and asked if I understood and acknowledged what I had done wrong in the first place.
Although after every beating, I used to seriously contemplate running away from home and becoming a street kid that would make her abode in the street adjacent to our house, she raised me in a loving way. In hindsight, I am glad I never attempted this running away from home stunt, oh what a beating I was going to get!!!
Despite all my nonsense, she was loving and protective of me. She would visit my school as much as she needed to and object to what she felt was against the standard and comfort she wanted for me. Due to this, I grew up confident in myself and knew exactly who I wanted to be in our playtime roleplays as children in the neighborhood. She instilled in me so many values during her time as my guardian. She taught me to own up to my mistakes, to prioritize my education, to not settle for mediocre, to have gratitude, to have good manners, and countless other things.
You might be wondering why aunty Sheila is mentioned in the past tense in this blog. That's because she passed away when I was right there in that room with my grandmother who was taking care of her. I was right there in that room when she said her last words and breathed her last, right before my grandma quickly chased me out and told me to go play outside. As young as I was, probably 8 years at most, I felt sorry for my grandma. I felt she had just witnessed something traumatic and now was alone in that house with no one to comfort her. I felt so helpless and confused at that moment. In my selfish little mind, I was mad at my aunt for dying before buying me the pedal-pusher she had promised to buy me the following month. If you don't know what a pedal-pusher is, it was one of the hipster pants that had a little skirt on top and it was the in-thing then. As skinny as I was at the time, I don't even think that little thing would have suited me at all but I genuinely thought it was selfish of her to do that to me, who was going to buy it for me, who was going to buy me anything else then? How selfish of her! I thought throughout the funeral proceedings...
You know, I have come to a place of falling in love with journeys. Everyone pretty much has one, a unique one. I believe this is because GOD is more interested in who and what we become during a journey than the drumroll moment when you reach whatever destination He has for you. My favorite Biblical character of all time is Joseph, the guy with the colorful coat. His life story is not even a glamorous one but I gravitate towards him all the time. Perhaps, this is because I see through his story that the presence of tumultuous times is not a direct representation of the absence of God. You see, when God says He is ever-present in your life, He doesn't necessarily mean your life will be nothing but a sweet by and by, but one thing for sure is He means it when He says in Isaiah 43:
But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
If you read the Bible, you will find that God kept reassuring those He was sending on a particular journey that He would be present with them.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Don't get me wrong, I am not quoting these scriptures to signify that this part of my journey was some sort of special calling and that God said go ye therefore Delsha...No. I am, however, pointing out that whether God speaks to you in a loud voice/whisper and says go to that country/job/assignment/university or not, every part of your journey is being actively woven together by God and that the journey is just as important as the destination. God works out even the most atrocious experiences for your good. He doesn't necessarily send such things your way, but surely does use them for your good. God is so interested in your well-being so much so that even the biggest nuclear weapon the enemy throws your way to completely wipe you out can be used to bring you good.
I would love to end this lengthy blog by saying God loves you, cares for you and sees you even when you are in pain. In fact, especially when you are in pain. Do not let the things you go through convince you that there is no hope, no solution, no need to believe in God, after all, no need to pray, and that things will never get better because if you do that, you let the devil win. The devil wants you stolen from, destroyed, and at all costs killed, and he is going to do all he can to achieve just that, but don't let him. Keep believing in the goodness of God anyway, keep believing that you are worthy of God's love anyway (because you are), keep believing and fighting for what you want through God, believe in love still even when heartbroken and betrayed, believe in a prosperous future even when your circumstances say otherwise, believe in life even when surrounded by death. Hold on still, you have to, you must!
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.