At 12.30 a.m. on Sunday, January 6, 2008, Feast of the Epiphany, barely into the New Year, Hon. Ambrose Chukwudi Mezu passed away. It was not just the shock that Ambu (as family members and friends called him) is no more but it was the crystal clear, irrevocable finality of death that struck an unmistakable chord in my heart and brain.
So many memories abound of the man called Ambrose – flamboyant, fun-loving, classily fashionable, grandiloquent, loquacious even, but intrepidly courageous and brutally honest.
Every time death of a loved one occurs, you think you have learnt something, that somehow through the frequent commonality of death, you are immune from the shock of it, but each time, the startling surprise persists. Truly, as we swagger and bluster through our earthly odyssey, when will we learn to take most seriously the words of our dear the Lord and Savior Jesus: “you neither know the time nor the place!” His physical self, the breathing, living Hon. A. C. Mezu had ceased to bestride the Earth like the colossus he was. From now on, this fallen Iroko would only live through his achievements, his acts and through the children and progeny he left behind. From now on, flashes of the man called Ambrose, his gait when he was hale and hearty, his boisterous laugh, his gestures would come alive only through our rememories – imaginatively recalled memories. And what a complex man he was! So many memories abound of the man called Ambrose – flamboyant, fun-loving, classily fashionable, grandiloquent, loquacious even, but intrepidly courageous and brutally honest. No doubt, others will write and speak volumes about him for sometime to come; other aspects of his multi-faceted life will come to light, no doubt, but I wish to dwell on some vital qualities of this brother-in-law of mine called Ambrose, aspects of his life involving acts, gestures, and words significant to me, more especially in those last weeks of his life on earth.
To God and Ambu, I owe the gift of Sebastian, my chum and partner in life.
Ambu often visited my home in Port Harcourt and wrote back to Sebastian most positive recommendation to proceed and thus the unexpected congratulatory telegram. Over the years, through the quiet rhythm, excitement and sometimes turbulence of settling into my newly acquired family, Ambu and I became friends. I found him impetuous, but very fair-minded, bombastic, even but truthful in his judgments. He could be passionately infuriating, for instance, I always had issues with him for what I perceived to be a misogynist attitude towards women, yet we could disagree without lingering rancor, and still remain good friends because he had that quality which is most desirable in human relational skills – a good sense of humor; he could laugh uproariously, crack jokes and tell stories, even if at times he stretched the truth a little.
Hon. A.C. Mezu was given to grand gestures. He was magnificently generous in matters of the heart, at least, to the public at large. When my first-born son Obinna Julian, three months old and brought home from America, was dying of meningitis at Aba General Hospital under the care of the beloved, late Dr. Ochia Nwankwo of Umuahia, and Sebastian was no match for his son, Ambu willingly volunteered, was tested and found to be a match, Ambrose donated his blood and my son was saved. We were later to lose Obinna at 17 months but for always, I would be grateful for that saving gesture. Truly, he had a human (e) heart. He wept inconsolably when his father, Papa Clement and junior brother Cosmas died. Tears did not make him less a man but rather re-affirmed the humaneness of the man. Thus, it is easy to believe that Ambrose could put himself in harm’s way for the sake of those he loved. And so he could never understand, nor tolerate stinginess, or what I call “chikpoedness” in others. As St. Paul said, “charity covers a multitude of sins” and so for his many sins, I know that this God we serve, who through the Lord Jesus proclaimed to St. Faustina that He is the Divine Mercy would consider the great generosity of Ambrose, his love and compassion for kith and kin and for others not his kin, and have mercy on his soul.