In my early years I used to call my grandmother mum and my actual mum by her name, Asedi. This was partly because everyone (mum and her sisters) called her mum, and I kind of figured that was her name, and they all called my mum Asedi (with her being the last born). Anyway, Dorase Phiri (my grandmother) was quite instrumental in my growing up. I spent three to four of my early years with her, and they were quite essential in laying a foundation. Here are a few lessons she taught me.
God comes first
From a tender age, my grandmother made sure I knew that God came first in everything and the importance of worshiping him and going to church. She always took me to church, and I remember watching her reading her Bible and singing hymns to God. When I was seven years old, she told her friend that I was going to be a pastor one day! That was way before I was even saved. And when I decided to answer the call to ministry, she was the first person to respond with excitement.
God blesses us so that we may bless others
In her village Dorase Phiri was among the high-class people; she had a higher standard of living than most. But one thing that stood out to me was her willingness to share what she had and help out those in need. As a young boy her generosity was quite annoying; I wondered why we could not keep what we had for ourselves. After all we would have more! For her, being privileged came with great opportunity and responsibility. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.
Children should be disciplined
Dorase is a legend! She had no problems instilling discipline. She had very high expectations of those under her, and she made sure that children understood that they are to obey and submit to the authority of their parents. And when one crossed the line, she made sure she reminded you where you belong, and you stayed there. Two incidents come to mind. There was a day I disobeyed her and decided to run away from her. She simply picked up a whip and started following me at her own pace. She then told me “I will follow you until you get tired and stop”. After a while I realized it was in my best interest to stop because the distance covered running away, would be the same heading back! On another occasion, my friends and I bullied a young girl at school and grabbed her food. Her mother came and told my grandmother, and she decided to come to the school! She asked for permission from the head teacher to address the entire school during assembly. I was called out in front, and she asked me to point out my partners in crime; she walloped us in front of the whole school and gave a lecture about good behavior and manners to everyone. One thing is for sure, she did not spare the rod neither did she spoil any child.
There is no substitute for hard work
There is something about the older generation and their love and attitude towards work. My grandmother finds satisfaction from a hard day’s labor. Farming season meant work. We would spend the whole day working at the farm. I hated it, and she loved it. While I was complaining, she was singing away joyfully. Whatever she got involved in, she did with all her might. She never did anything halfhearted, and she expected it of everyone else. Even today when she is advanced in age and struggling with health, she stubbornly wants to work.
The Lord has blessed my grandmother with long life, and she has been able to see a number of her great grandchildren. She has seen her own daughters become grandparents and has even out lived some of them. For all her shortcomings, Dorase Phiri has a legacy, and she has set some pretty high standards for all to emulate. Particularly in her love for God and her parenting. Like Timothy I am grateful for my grandmother.