“You’re lovely,” she whispered to me. “But you don’t eat enough.”
Akos, the receptionist at Apex Advertising Agency, was taking care of me from the minute I walked through the doors. Despite the plethora of tasks that seemed to pile on her desk each day, Akos knew what I’d eaten for breakfast, lunch, and if the mango lady had brought me my mango for the day.
Standing at my side, she reminded me so much of my own mother. Although only five feet tall, I clung to every word she said for the wisdom and quiet sense of humor was too precious to miss.
During my time at Apex I spent numerous hours sitting in the reception chatting with Akos. These “Tuesdays with Mourie” moments sent me away with a collection of random yet valuable tidbits about life. From Akos I learned about patience, kindness, and love. I also learned how to separate an egg yolk from the white and how to create the perfect blend of spices for fried rice.
She, like my own mother, always put others first. During production I would see her quickly pacing from one set to another fulfilling the needs of the crew before they even knew they needed something. When she had a moment, I would join her and she would talk to me about finding love (getting married no more or less than three years after I finished school) and knowing that God would always lead me in the right direction.
She worried constantly about what I would eat in Ghana. As a vegetarian my options were limited and Akos was very aware of this dilemma. She would pack mangos and whole pineapples just for me and then continue to stop at multiple markets or coffee shops asking me if I needed another snack. A worried and slightly disappointed glance would paint her face as I politely refused the treat. With a sturdy nod of her head she would silently affirm to both of us that she would try again tomorrow.
Akos was without a doubt my Ghanaian mother. She reminded me to call or email my mom nearly every day, telling me that if she were my mother she’d be worried about sending me to a new country. I explained to her that my mother knew that both my brother and I had the travel bug, but she’d shake her head and say “one day you’ll understand.”
It was a slight surprise when I found out that Akos wasn’t yet a mother. She smiled at me and said that she was trying and asked me to say a prayer. I did and a few weeks later she announced with a smile that she was pregnant. I have no doubt that she’ll be a fantastic mother. It’s part of who she is; each stride she takes carries a motherly aura that is unmistakable.
Today was my final day at Apex and my last day with Akos for some time. I departed with a painting and a mask from her husband and a promise that we’d see each other again. As I walked up the dirt path away from Apex I felt the tears filling my eyes and running down my cheeks. I wiped them away and looked back to see that Akos has done the same.