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The Last Minutes Of Rilwan Omosun, The Ex Sport Editor Evening Times



In the spring of 2014, as the flowers began to bloom, Rilwan Omosun faced a life of doom from years of congestive heart failure, kidney disease and stroke. Doctors at the North West Medical Centre in Baltimore, Maryland,   gave him one year to live. He outlived their projections. Last Monday, after years of discomfort and pains from life and living, Omosun died inside the hospital in Maryland. He had been ill since he stepped into United States, from Nigeria, in 1991. Few years ago, he granted permission to record some of our daily telephone conversations and publish after his death. I am obliging him his wishes. You could see the pains of a former Sports Editor of Evening Times who migrated to United States in pursuit of dreams but felled by illnesses and betrayed by family trust.

The telephone conversations:

The telephone rings and caller I.D shows “Real One”. That’s how I stored my terminally ill friend, Rilwan Omosun’s number on my contact list.

“Real Baba… how are you today?”

“Zuks I am alive and making it through another day. How your family nah?”

“We are stronger than pride… Your voice is ringing in my ears with confidence. I am encouraged by the sound of your voice… very peaceful.”

“Zuks, thank you very much. I am at peace with myself… I am not afraid of dying any day that the Lord takes me. I am prepared to honour that wish…”

“Real One, you are not afraid of death and dying?”

“Yes ooo my brother. Not afraid. I had prepared how I would die in Nigeria before I called you last week…”

“How had you prepared?”

“I had wanted to go back to Nigeria, relocate to my village and stayed in my father’s house, I would then buy my coffin, plan my funeral so that it would not be a burden to my extended family, buy the clothes that they would bury me in… I planned everything. But now that you have convinced me to stay here and wait out my end time as stated by my heart doctors, I have also planned my dying and wishes here…”

“ Real One, how would I know when the time comes? Who is going to notify me that you have died?”

“Zuks, I will give you my cousin’s number, I will also call you when the time is nearer, that is, when they take me to the hospice home…”( I missed a call last Wednesday from Rilwan’s phone. I forgot to call back. On Thursday morning, his cousin called and informed me that he died that morning!).

“You would be too weak and unconscious to remember anything.”

“Well, let me text you my cousin’s number now. Zuks, I used to be scared or afraid of dying and being identified as an undocumented immigrant or illegal alien in America… it’s not my fault. We all take chances in life; in my case, life took a chance on me. My cousin that I came to meet in America betrayed me. He took advantage of my trust for our extended family and used my identity to commit financial fraud.”

”What happened to him and where is he now?”

“He did two years in prison and thereafter was deported. He lives in Ghana.”

“Are you still angry at him?”

“No Zuks. I have less time to live. I don’t have time to be angry. Through the years, I have only been well for eight years out of 24 years that I have been in America. I have spent 13 years on dialysis, the past 15 years disabled by stroke, and the last one and half years battling congestive heart failure. I have till March next year (2014) to live, according to my doctors, Zuk. So you see my brother, I no get time to be angry…”

“That’s a long time to be on dialysis man. Were you not placed on the National donors list?

“Zuks, I was placed on the donors list but my medical emergency insurance would not cover a kidney transplant surgery. You must have insurance to be able to qualify for the operation. I had this Medical Emergency insurance which is given here to illegal aliens on humanitarian grounds. It does not cover certain long term care and illnesses and it expires every six months. I had mine through the University of Maryland Medical Centre… the medical emergency insurance covers dialysis treatment… Mine expired last April and I have been trying to renew it. The renewal process is too bureaucratic. Waiting can be frustrating. I have been waiting for nearly one year for renewal. Zuks, it’s complicated man.”


“Real One. The ultimate warrior!; sorry I missed your call… what’s up?”

“Zuks, just checking on you. I am tired. I have been in bed after my dialysis”

“Have you been able to eat?”

“I am too tired to go get something to eat. And I don’t have any money to eat. But my friend from Ghana just called and he is bringing me food.”

“ I am sorry… I live four hours by road from you, otherwise I would have brought you food.”

“Zuk, you have done so much for me. You have continued to pay for my stay in the motel….”

“ Hang in there. I am trying hard to raise at least $6,000 to help you with renting a place and with your daily feeding and lifestyle. The appeal fund drive continues…”

“Zuks I am trying and I thank you. I am just tired of living this way, not knowing how I will survive each day. I live one minute at a time.

“You are the Real One. You’ve made it this far. You can’t give up now. Life is a journey; citizens of mother earth are compassionate people. Just be patient. They will help.”

“ Thanks. My days are counting down Zuks. The doctors told me in March, when you went to Nigeria to bury your mother, that I had one year to live because of my congestive heart disease. We are in September. March 2014 is moments away. Someday I feel closer to heaven’s door. Two days ago, I had shortness of breath and you encouraged me to go to the ER. Doctors at the ER examined me and concluded I should slow down my pace. I only walked to the drug store to get my prescriptions and I was almost collapsing…”

“But you are breathing fine now?

“Yes Zuk. It felt like I had fluids in my lungs. I am relatively okay from the scary situation. Zuks, how you dey today my brother… I am very tired… I just returned from dialysis….When I returned from dialysis, I am very tired… dialysis takes about four hours for the blood to be cleaned out. One of the side effects is weakening bones… my joints and back bones are gone. I am really in pain. I walk with a cane. I have been diagnosed with osteoporoses as a result of years of dialysis. I gotta be careful of what I eat man: daily living is a big challenge for me.”

So how do you manage your daily pain?”

“ It’s tough to manage. I go for dialysis treatment Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays… The exercise wipes me off completely… I am tired for the rest of the day: it takes me 24 hours to recover… walking is difficult for me… I struggle with pain every day… Engaging in the simplest daily chores is a huge task to accomplish. I don’t have any assistance. It takes me lots of minutes to drag myself to the bathroom or just walk to the kitchen to fix my food… sometimes I am not able to eat because either I am too tired to pull my aching body up and go get food or I am just too weak… Zuks, nobody deserves to live this miserably… I can’t afford to miss any day of dialysis… if I did, the fluids would build up in my lungs, I would have difficulty breathing…”

“Are you worried about how your life turned out?”

“ Yes. I left Nigeria for the United States full of strength, hope and dreams, ready to own the world. I was 31 years old and very ambitious. I was excited that America would offer me the opportunities to rule my world and excel in my profession. But today, I am a captive to strange illnesses attacking my vital body organs. My kidneys have failed. I am disabled by stroke. I have congestive heart failure. I am expected to die soon. I have osteoporoses … So, yes I am worried because I have a beautiful daughter. She is my best friend. She is the light of my life. Zuks, just as you are closest to your beautiful girls, I am also very close to her…we talk every day. She lives in Houston. She spent this summer with me. She calls me every day as soon as she returns from school… I am worried that these illnesses have disabled me from being a great dad to an amazing daughter. I am privileged to have her…. I pray her health would be better than mine… I will be watching over her when my end time is complete and guide her spiritually from the domains of heavenly father… Zuks, if I were in Nigeria when these happened, I wouldn’t be having this conversations with you… I probably would have died. Zuks, if I didn’t have a daughter, I would have ended my life.”

“Did you contemplate on suicide?”

“I did. I was miserable and I am still miserable from the illnesses… my illnesses have turned me into a dependant… I fell down last week at 4a.m and it took 12 hours before my neighbour came to help me… he was passing by and noticed me lying on the floor… my cousin left earlier for work and forgot to shut the door… so I got up to shut the door but fell to the floor: every time I think of ending my life, I think about my daughter…. We are very close… I won’t deny her the little steam that is left in me, despite my handicap and shortcomings. She accepted her father the way life gave me to her… It’s unfair for such a young girl to go through these with me… But who are we to question the journeys of our lives as planned by God? She is a very brave girl, her smiles and voices infect me… they help me absorb the vapours of pain… Zuks, God bless you my brother… you have kept me going for nearly one week now…”

“Real One baba, we still have a long road to travel… It’s not over until we roast the last chicken head my brother…I don’t know how you will survive tomorrow… But you will my brother… I trust my fellow Nigerians… someone will call me before sunset tomorrow to donate something for you..…Stay hopeful and stay strong… I go call you tomorrow…”

“Okay my brother… good night, Zuks…” He died last Thursday and is scheduled to be buried in Baltimore next week.


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