Doris Fisher: Farewell To The Grandest Dame

  • DONU KOGBARA 

When I was told that my dear friend and beautiful, brilliant senior sister, Dr Doris Amachree Fisher, had passed away, I was stunned.

I simply couldn’t believe it because though she had been battling to overcome a serious, life-threatening health challenge for a while, I had been absolutely sure that she would win the battle conclusively and emerge triumphant and invigorated, like the phoenix in classical mythology who literally rises from its own ashes and never dies.

Doris was a force of nature, one of those special people who possess indomitable spirits and appear immortal and indestructible.

OK, so I am a bit of a pessimist and had fleetingly experienced doubts about the wisdom of anyone who can afford to travel having a kidney transplant in Nigeria with its limited medical facilities.

But Doris was breezily unconcerned when I went to visit her in Abuja shortly before she underwent surgery.

“Oh, keep quiet and stop fussing!” she commanded in her usual imperious style when I anxiously asked her why she wasn’t having the operation abroad.

“I’ll be fine,” she declared, brimming with her customary confidence. “Don’t forget that I am a doctor myself. I know what I am doing.”

We then chatted idly about life. She was fond and fun and relaxed.     

That was the last time I saw her and heard her voice.  

When she came out of the operating theatre and regained consciousness, I wanted to see her, but was told that only close relatives could visit. Then I travelled and she was discharged from hospital in my absence, and I was planning to see her as soon as I returned to Nigeria. But I didn’t go immediately because various pressing problems descended on me. Then the terrible call came.

Now she has gone and I cannot get over the fact that I didn’t rush to see her and hug her as soon as I returned from my travels.

Lesson Learned: Always prioritise people who matter to you because anyone can die at any time!

So, Doris, what can and should I tell the world about you?

I don’t think you’d want a dishonest whitewash job that depicted you as a saint because you used to tell me that one of the things you liked about me was that I was fearlessly frank and didn’t mince words.

You made no attempt to portray yourself as a meek and mild prayer warrior or icon of perfection, so I’m going to tell the truth, which is:

That the words FEISTY and REGAL and DIFFICULT could have been invented for you. That you were one of a kind, larger than life and a CHARACTER. That you took no prisoners. That your wahala was often too much. That we often disagreed. That you were frequently bossy and demanding. That you enjoyed being spiky and sarcastic.

That you were unrepentantly down-to-earth around financial issues. That you berated me for being “stupidly” unmaterialistic. In fact, you called me a bloody fool on numerous occasions because the only house I own is the property I inherited from my late parents.

That you were also a great mum to Lanre and Deji Fisher, your adored sons. That you genuinely cared about your siblings and extended family despite tensions that exist in most families.

That you were intellectually gifted, mega-clever and so very witty and wonderful when you were in a good mood. That you were also amazingly generous all of the time. That you stood by me like a pillar of strength when my mother died last year.

That you were an asset to the Kalabari Kingdom and a quintessential Rivers princess. That you were an Amazon many people admired.

That you had a fascinating enquiring mind and were willing to consider every possibility, including atheism. That you had courage and more balls than many men. That you were comfortable with and GREATLY respected by the tough guys – famous Niger Delta militants – who fought for resource control in our state and region.

That you were a Grande Dame Extraordinaire. That you were stylish and warm-hearted and one hell of a woman. That so many of us loved you and are devastated that we will never hear you laughing again or spend endless hours having interesting conversations with you.

Let me seize this opportunity to condole the entire Amachree clan and Doris’s husband, Asuquo Cowan (to whom she was married for 17 years), for this awful loss.

May she rest in peace in the bosom of the Almighty.

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