Dear Aunty Funso,
Words are a remote enough medium of expression for some people but it has never been for me. Still, it is especially difficult for me to find the perfect words for this tribute. I will just say it as it is. Let me try and be brief.
It’s always good to have a role model and mentor who not just talks about great things and about following your dreams, but who has been there and done that. You know instinctively that the journey to success and personal development can be a lonely and long one, where we can always doubt ourselves and question if we are on the right track. You have helped me through the humps and the valleys, through the hard and good times. I love the discussions we have at school, though brief as they may be, there was always a reason to have them.
There’s one point in your lifetime where you find that one person, that one mentor that helps you think in ways you never knew were true, that they inspire you so much, that you practically change the paths in your life. You see, in the time I knew you, I became a better person and I found that one person. I appreciate that despite the fact you have a well-established career, and have achieved so much in life, you are also generous with your time. You always make time for me because you want to and not because you have to, and I love you for that. I know mentoring can be a hassle and sometimes time consuming, but your warmth, helpfulness, and kindness always makes me feel better about almost everything.
I have learned so much about perseverance watching you not only survive…but thrive. Like diamonds being polished and revealed to the world as the jewels they are, you have demonstrated to me how I too can dig deep within myself to find strength and courage to go after my dreams. Throughout the triumph and the despair that has surrounded you at times during your life, you have showed me how to act and react with grace, dignity and fortitude. For your infectious energy of positivity, your instinct for truth and your incredible support I give humble thanks. Seeing in you my own concepts matured is a challenge to me which I hope to fulfill in your great spirit.
You have taught me how to build character, focus on my dreams and work on getting there. You have taught me to reflect on my daily achievements and to become a better person today than I was yesterday.
Thank you for being my mentor- I am indebted to you and I appreciate it more than you will ever know. For me, you embody the eloquent Greek proverb that tells us: a society grows great when The Old plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. This could be the mission statement for mentoring, no matter the ages of those involved.
I also a big thank you for being there for me. Having lived away from my parents for the last 5 years, you have been like a family to me. I am full of humility and gratitude for having you so richly in my life. These last few years at The Vale College have been the happiest and most productive of my life.
As my amazing boss, may you always have as much strength and love to lead me and, more importantly, a truly happy life. I also wish you a life filled with joy. It’s only fair – you’ve made mine so great!
This segment of your life is powerful and deserves its own attention. Explore. Experiment. Try new things. Let go. Relax. Laugh. Cry. Stop aging. Remember your wonder as a child. Be one again. Allow no one to put you in a box with rules and expectations. If you want pink hair…get the prettiest pink you can find. If you want to learn Igbo or Greek…do it!!! If you want to volunteer…do that too!! This stage is YOURS Remember: “If not now……WHEN?” Seriously!!!! Throw caution to the wind and LIVE. Don’t Watch live…….LIVE IT! In all its Glory. Fear and all. Let no one stop you.
Let me close (remember I promised to make this brief). A wise friend once told me when I was feeling lonely for “family” that “spirit is thicker than blood” (at that I wondered where she heard such gibberish from, but now I know better).
Funso Adegbola is not my blood relation.
But after five years of building a bond, her spirit flows in my blood.
May your kindness return to you in the same beautiful way it was offered.
In devotion, and in gratitude,
Dumebi Ezar Ehigiator