Unconditional Love: Josemaria’s Journey with ‘grandma’


Should I call her mom, grandma, or a friend? That’s the question I often find myself pondering. You see, I’ve discovered something truly remarkable in my life, something that has brought me a sense of belonging and satisfaction that words cannot capture. Despite being in her eighties, remains as youthful and vibrant as ever. She possesses a spirit that defies age, always up for long drives while I happily play the role of her princess passenger. Together, we’ve embarked on countless adventures, weaving our way through the tapestry of life.

And oh, her laughter! It’s infectious and fills the room with warmth. She’s a true lover of life, relishing the company of others and the solace of books. In fact, she’s even established a reading center in her own home, a testament to her deep passion for people and literature. She once confided in me that being around people and books was what kept her feeling alive, her secret to a stress-free existence. Perhaps that’s how we became best friends, bonded by our love for reading. I even pursued a related course, International Relations, and eagerly volunteered at her reading center, where we would share jokes and clean bookshelves together in the early morning light.  And I must say, she made every moment spent.

We may not live under the same roof anymore, but our bond remains unbreakable. We still have long calls, where we catch up on each other’s lives and share the warmth of our connection. And on some weekends, I make it a point to visit her. The love and support she provided during my time in Kenya and at Strathmore University were invaluable, making my university life a breeze. She was my guiding light, ensuring that I never felt alone, broke, or overwhelmed.

It’s been seven years now since our paths intertwined, when she became part of my family as an honorary member through my sister, who had been friends with her since 2015. As I was still new to Kenya at the time, I would visit her every weekend, seeking the comfort of home. I became the baby of the family and her ‘adopted’ son. She welcomed me with open arms, offering me a home during and after my time in the hostel. I fondly remember the conversations I had with  her husband, a teacher from the United States. It was through their shared love for reading that I found myself attached to their Rural Reading Center, a place where my passion for global affairs blossomed.

The most profound moment in our relationship  was during the Covid-19 pandemic when her beloved husband departed from this world. I stood by her side, providing unwavering support.

In January 2017, I began my studies at Strathmore University, and during those years, I relished the time spent having meals and talking about her time in the US, first as a student and working with her. Our household was a sanctuary for intellectual stimulation, with our chosen field of study, International Relations and education, tying us together.

What I truly admire most about her is her boundless compassion. She possesses a heart filled with generosity and a genuine desire to aid the less fortunate and her community. Her interests and hobbies reflect this kindness, as she immerses herself in reading, storytelling, and tending to her beloved garden. Our weekends often revolved around lively discussions where we would pick a random topic and dive into passionate debates, igniting the house with energy and curiosity. And oh, the taste of Githeri, a traditional Kenyan dish she prepared with love, forever imprinted upon my soul. I’ve attempted to recreate it in my own home, but nothing compares to the flavors she conjured.

Never one to burden others, she prefers to tackle tasks herself, a woman of her word and a source of inspiration. In her presence, I found a home that provided me with more than material comforts. It was an extraordinary stroke of luck. Mrs. Bernadette Theuri, I love you. Happy Mother’s day to you!


This article was written by Rachael Wangui, a third year Communications student.

What’s your story? We’d like to hear it. Contact us via communications@strathmore.edu

What’s your story? We’d like to hear it. Contact us via communications@strathmore.edu


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