Voodoo Killed My Mother

My mother is dead. The doctors say she died of meningitis, but I know that is not the whole truth. My mother was killed by a voodoo spell.

Our family comes from a rainy northern city. My mum always hated the cold and spent her entire life trying to get away from it. She did get away; she made it to the jungles and beaches of Asia and Africa, but life always forced her back into cold cities.

The last time in Africa, she met a young man, an ex-police officer for whom she fell head over heels. He had nothing – no job, no home, nothing but debt and a big family. My mother paid his bills. He was still married, but she refused to believe it. We do not know how he lost his job in law enforcement, but you don’t get fired from Africa’s police because you are too clean. When her cash cards were emptied at the ATM, she said it was a banking miracle, not him stealing.

Together they built a house near the beach and opened a restaurant. She wouldn’t listen to anybody, cutting off those who questioned the young man. In the end, she gave up her family, her children, and everything else that mattered to her, except for her dogs, because they were loyal and uncritical, no matter what the young man did to her. She never saw her grandchild, not even a photo, because the young man warned her that a voodoo curse might be attached to the photo.

It was not her will, she said, but the voodoo spell that bound her. She wanted to escape but she couldn’t. Every time she tried to leave him, she got terribly sick. She tried counter-spells too, but they didn’t work; probably her sorceress was no good, she said. In Africa, musungus never get the real deal. 

The restaurant was robbed many times, miraculously whenever they held some cash. Traumatized by violent crimes, my mother sold the house near the beach and followed the young man to the up-countries, where his wife and children lived.

He convinced her that building an apartment house would be a solid investment. Her remaining funds went into twelve flats in Nairobi. She kept the address of the apartment house secret so we could not find her or her young man.

Nairobi (or “Nai-Robbery” to the insider) is almost as cold and rainy as the city where she was born. It was there that her life’s cycle closed. When she had no more money to invest, she was chased away by the young man’s wife and soon succumbed to illness.

“I know you don’t believe me, but there are things in Africa that one cannot explain. Things beyond our understanding.” It was one of the last things she said to me.

The young man had her buried behind the graveyard’s toilet, next to the garbage, but only after we sent money for the funeral. He had no cash, he said even though my mother’s will left all to him, the apartment house and the car. He did not bother to put a stone or a flower on her grave. My mother’s beloved dogs went to an animal shelter; we will never get her personal belongings, as her will stipulates, because the young man is afraid that we will put a spell on him.

Remarkably, my mother never went to church. The church just wanted her money, she said. However, against all indications, my mother was not stupid. In fact, she was very successful in everything she did except in regards to men.

She was a nihilist and a misanthrope, yet it was love that killed her.

Love in the form of a voodoo spell.

25 Comments on “Voodoo”

  1. Scott says:

    I was looking on your web site for an anniveasry ruby present for my lovely wife when I clicked on your voodoo article, usally I just would by pass writtings on web sites, but on this day your article drew me in. As i read, it drew me in more, I basically had the same kind of mother, which started when I was 12 yo with a diffrent story. I feel your heart my man and its so hard to understand what was she thinking or feeling, hope you can smile a little when you think of her. I just get mad when I think of mine, I was lucky my father was as loveing as he was and I have a loveing great family now. thank you for your writtings, really

  2. edwardbristol says:


    Thanks for you feed-back. I am getting mad too. I hope that will change over time. It is all too fresh.

    Sometimes I’d like to fly an apache attack heli over the young man’s village but it passes.

  3. kristin says:

    Purpose of her life was to find love,but Africa was definitely not a good place to find it.Tragic story

    • edwardbristol says:

      Well, I am not sure it was the geographical place. There were bad ends for her relationships all around the world. It was more her karma.

  4. M says:

    Ed, my heart goes out to you. May your Mother Rest in Peace and may your memories of her include only the good.

    • edwardbristol says:

      Thanks M, I concentrate on the good. Though she was stubborn, in some ways my mother was just too good for this world.

  5. Anne Hess says:

    Edward, I was so moved by your story about your mother and her life. I know the pain and frustration of watching a loved one make bad choices. I lost my daughter almost 5 years ago from a drug overdose. She was 21 years old and the last 18 months of her life was a constant struggle involving multiple hospital admissions for overdoses and a suicide attempt, 2 stints in rehab facilities, and a 3 week stay in a mental health facility. I never knew what was coming next. Healing from such profound loss takes a very long time, but I pray for you and your family, that the pain in your hearts will eventually be replaced by memories of happier days. God bless you.

  6. Maia says:

    Dear Ed,

    So sorry that you lost your mother thus way, first in life, then to death. I love my sons so much, I can’t imagine the pain of being estranged from them for any reason.

    My brother was murdered 2 days before his 23rd birthday, in 1992. His life went horribly wrong when he went to live with our father at age 10. He was shot through the head and lost an eye but survived when he was 19. When he died, the police didn’t properly photograph, collect evidence, or investigate because they knew he was HIV and an addict. His ashes sat in a box on a closet shelf of a relative for years until finally being scattered at a place he liked. Someone moved into his bedroom just a couple of days after he died. The person who killed him never faced any earthly justice. I used to be so angry over that. Not long ago, I found out that man died at a fairly early age in 2009. So many times that I was hating him, he was already dead.

    As the years go by, different facets of loss seem the most painful. Sometimes the injustice of his death, sometimes the pain in his life, sometimes the blessings that I had that he never did, sometimes the fact that he never got to love & be loved by my sons the way my younger brother does. But the pain is always there.

    Just remember that at one time, your mother loved you more than anything, and you loved her perfectly too. Nothing can change the awful things that happened after that, but nothing can erase that time either. I believe that you’ll be together again one day, as all drops of water return to the ocean.

    Losing your mother will hurt for the rest of your life, and I’m sorry that you are going to suffer that way. Eventually, in some realm, there will be justice for the man that used her and hurt your family. Your good character and deeds and the love and goodness that you cultivate in this life are all you can do for her now. And that’s all mothers really want for their kids anyway.

    Praying for true peace for you and your family, Maia

    • edwardbristol says:

      Definitely! I know the young man will suffer for his deed.
      No good will come from what he has stolen from my mother. I need not interfere. The world will take care of that.

  7. Suja says:

    Wow! Very saddened…and moved…by your writing. More reason to cherish the moments we share with our loved ones because it can all change so drastically at any moment. [Side note: Can you or would you bring her back to her family? And retrieve her belongings in the process?]

    • edwardbristol says:

      No, she wanted to be buried there. We went and made her a real grave and cleaned the place. That was all we could do.

      I have donated a big chunk to the dog shelter in Nairobi and asked them to care of her dogs, but never heard back from them.

      The young man is not giving back her belongings either. We have to let it go.

  8. Africanuck says:

    In Cameroon they were reputed to feed a poison to their mates and then the antidote every day. If the mate left, no more antidote and they would get sick every time. Western medicine could do nothing for them. It sounds as if your mother fell victim to the same thing.

    You could still put a spell on him, even with just a photo if you have one.

    • edwardbristol says:

      Africanuck! Greetings to you.

      Yes, that would be a way of explaining it.
      I don’t want revenge. It will all come in time.

      (If revenge then I’d prefer the honest western attack helicopter, not a sneaky curse)

  9. phoebe says:

    very touching, Ed….Must have been hard to comprehend; but glad you shared it– as you do the beauties–truly a mystery….

  10. michaelbelfer says:

    I hope very much to be able to meet you one day? Your story touched me deeply, and resonated so clearly…in my case it was my father who took everything from my very small family and fled to china where his mail-order brides awaited…as many of us, I thought that as I got older I would become less ashamed of my father’s behavior…it was always dramatic and scandalous…alas, it just kept getting worse…I can at least have a sense of humor about it now!
    The reason I would like to meet you is because of my love of mineralogy and all gemstones…it was something I had discovered very young in Canada where I grew up…but as I grew older had gotten away from, but after discovering your site last year about this time, I’ve been a regular visitor always admiring your taste.selection and the fact that you adhere to showing only natural, untreated stones.
    Thanks for all your great work!

  11. Nimueh says:

    Ed, I am sorry to read about your loss – No matter the circumstances, death is always felt. My heart goes out to you.

    I am sorry for the difficult relationship you had with her, and that she had. I agree with your comment above, that it was karma. I will pray that she now grows beyond that binding influence and is free.

    You may recall that I have written you questions about your beautiful gems for years and was able to purchase one, a white topaz, a few years ago. I want to acknowledge you for your inspiring level of commitment to the environment and to the precious sanctity of Earth’s prizes, the gems – that they not be defiled by man’s harm to their source, Mother Earth, and to Earth’s creatures, the wild fish. I wish that I could support your esteemed mission more by purchasing more gems from you, and I will be able to at some time.

    And I am sure that, especially now that she can see more clearly, your Mother appreciates you though she may have been unable to while here under her addiction and spells. I am sure that she is very proud of you, and loves you very much. I am sure that she is sorry for her actions and choices, and has great regrets.

    Sometimes we have to look in other reflections to see the truth. I think that by looking at yourself, Ed, we can see the greatness that you are, as well as your Mother’s love for you. At least, I would like to honor her that way, as if she had lived that way. Maybe on some level, it is true, and we can help guide her that way, by holding this type of attitude.

    With heartfelt appreciation, Ed,

    • Nimueh, sorry for my utterly belated reply. I thought WP would notify me of comments but… much time has passed, myself now in the 50ies, soon in the age my mother passed (she was young) while my grandmother nears her 100th birthday, looking over four generations. Life can be weird. Thanks Nimueh, I hope you are well. Keep in touch. ed

  12. Veda Rao says:

    So sorry Ed. Hang in there. Time will help you reflect on your mother’s death without this feeling of indignation and helplessness but I doubt you will ever get over your grief.
    How do I say this without seeming callous. Just let it go gradually by not revisiting this unpleasant end. Instead focus on the happy memories you shared with your mom and you will feel her grace in your life.

    • Thanks Veda for your compassion. Such makes the world a better place, people with a good heart taking a moment to share their feelings. Sorry for the belated reply. WP-default settings changed without confirmation. ed

  13. Jeramy says:

    Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and
    let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but
    I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

    • edwardbristol says:

      uh, I try and see them all. Can you tell me which ones? Thanks for your time. ed

  14. Suja Carter says:

    Chills reading this. Best to your and your family.

    • Thanks, Suja, ten years later, I must report: time does not heal all wounds but only reduces the frequency of an old wound’s pain breaking out, and perhaps also its intensity, which is good so. Were it otherwise, we’d forget our loved ones, and what we (should) have learned from their fate.

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