‘When my father died, I felt a release’, Mfon Ekpo shares on #WithChude.
Nigerian author and Coach Mfon Ekpo sits with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude, for a 40th birthday special. In this episode, she speaks for the first time about the defining loss of her parents, an incident that affected her life and turning 40.
On turning 40, she shares, ‘I look forward to turning 40 because I contemplate life in seasons, when I was 30, 40 was a landmark position. One of the things I found out early is that if you could gather the courage, you could be anything. It is not something that falls on you, it is a muscle you work. I had to work the muscle in the decision I had made, in the things I had done, and the things I had let go. Sometimes my courage does irritate, it is a blind type of courage but it has gotten me the most result’.
Mfon Ekpo also shares about her relationship with her dad, and the effect his death had on her. “A lot of people often don’t talk about the release that comes with death. I feel like if my father were alive, I would not be a coach. Because he was very logical, you had to explain your next move to him. Coaching was something that I would say, ‘I don’t have an idea of what I am doing, but I am okay with it’. To have had someone that I needed to explain the next move to, I would have either found a structure for it and stifled it in trying to find a structure for it. When he died, there was sadness, as there is when you lose someone that you love. Then, there was the release of ‘I am on my own now. I don’t necessarily need to explain every next step, He has taught me enough, I am on my own’. Most Nigerians have had either parents or grandparents that had expectations that were weighty that if they allow themselves, they will understand what I mean by, ‘you lost someone you felt the loss, but you also felt the release’. It is not the release because you don’t love the person, it is the release of the weight of the expectation.’
She also shared about the last moment with her mom before she passed. Reminiscing, about the moments they shared, she said, I remember one of those times, when she was talking. And I was in the living room with her. At a surreal moment, I just looked at her talking and chattering, and I thought,’ I will miss you when you are gone’.
In introspection about the life-defining moments that have sharpened her perspective and courage, she said, “My first year at the university, I was involved in a car accident. I was going to a party at night, and we had a car accident. I got most of the accident’s impact, so I broke my legs. I broke it in a way that we first wanted the leg to set by itself, but it didn’t for a while, so we had to go into surgery. Because of the time it took, I was hospitalized, immobile, for 5 months. And then, when I did the surgery, I had to relearn how to work because my brain had forgotten. She also shared how she had to remind her leg how to move, and she kept trying to move. ‘The thing that changed me the most was that the doctors didn’t think I would work again. The nurse had come to me in the night and said, ‘tell them to take you to the village, the thing that we are doing here is not working. It is all trial and error’. It was irritating because I was fully engaged in the process of getting well. It was more irritation than fear because the surgeon that we were about to get was one of the best, and he was about to retire. I remember my mum going to the hospital, falling down on her knees and saying, ‘You cannot retire, except you do the surgery for my daughter’. Mfon added that the experience was a defining one that made her decide that once she got out of the hospital, she was going to seize life by the horns.