On Saturday June 30, 2018 at around 2 pm our beloved Grandma Maria passed away. She was the first patient of the Sisters of Angels’ hospice in Kabuga and spent 5 years with us. Good Factory is only one year younger than that – Kabuga was our first project and Grandma our first patient. Other patients came and went, Grandma was always there.
I will always remember how she laughed when I took her in my arms and carried around the hospice like a child (she was light as a feather). How she expressed her love to sister Maria ten times a day, scolded her favorite nurse twenty times a day, haggled with the head of administration, Ernestyna – all in her low, decisive voice. The same voice that we heard from behind her closed doors as she fought the imaginary ghost of Barakekemwa, who she said killed all 11 of her children during the Rwandan wars. I will always remember the dance she transformed into (Grandma didn’t just dance, she becamethe Dance) whenever she would hear a bit of music, whether in the chapel, in the courtyard, indoors. Today, at Sunday Mass, she also danced, after a few minutes, however, she stopped without saying a word and sat down on the bench. Three hours later she was returned to her children.
To be completely honest, we didn’t know much about her. She herself wasn’t even able to provide her age or name. We named her Maria after sister Maria when she was baptized. The sisters found her on the streets, where she was sleeping and living off of foodrests. In our hospice, she became a QUEEN. We were at her beck and call and in return she smiled or entertained us with jokes and stories that only a few of us at the hospice could understand since no one knew what language she really spoke. She recently started getting sick and weaker and we tried to help her as we could, but there simply is no cure for death.
When someone so full of life passes away, what is there to say except THANK YOU? Thank you, Grandma Maria, for giving us the honor of getting to know you. For every dance, every smile, the joy you expressed for every gift from us: cloths, shawls, dresses carefully stored in a suitcase, lollipops bought by supporters of the Good Factory…
We can only hope that you died happy, knowing that you are loved, needed and admired. Now that you are with your loved ones, as strong and independent as you were before life took its toll on you – remember us. Come visit, no longer haunted by the ghost of Barakekemwa, look around and feed the sick, like you used to do. I hope that we will hear the sound of your laughter in our courtyard again… Support us from the heavens as much as possible and help us make sure we are able to prove to anyone who arrives at our doors that everyone’s life is valuable, that each one of the 7 plus billion people on this planet deserves the right to be loved and cared after till their last breath.
Kabuga will never be the same without you. I haven’t mentioned this to anyone yet but I’m sure the Sisters and I will find a way to remember you. Maybe we’ll hang a beautiful portrait of you in your room? Maybe I will persuade everyone who knew you: sisters, Mateusz, Ernestyna, and fellow patients to write down their memories so that we can create a memorial book to commemorate your life and make sure that everyone who arrives in Kabuga can learn about .
Grandma Maria. If we’d never met her, she would’ve faded into oblivion, forgotten by the world. Thanks to Divine Providence, we met her and allowed her to flourish and become a star in the last years of her life. Thousands of people around the world cared about her, prayed for her, laughed with her, and enjoyed cheering her up with her favorite lollipops.
Dear Grandma! Today, the whole Good Factory wishes you a good journey! We are so glad that you were with us. We’re happy and crying at the same time… We have so many photos and videos with you, and we will always cherish your memory.
I, too, through tears, would like to say to you, Grandma, for the last time: Murakoze! Thank you!
Your “grandson” (as well as, depending on Grandma’s mood: husband, son, fiancé, blacksmith, doctor – Grandma’s fantasy in this respect had no limits…).