CHRISTIANA JOEL UDORO
1968 – 2021
A modern-day Mother Teresa
Christiana Joel Udoro—a beloved wife, mother, and LPN whose life and service to God and family reflected many of the same qualities as those of Saint Teresa of Calcutta—passed away from COVID-19, on September 5, 2021, at Piedmont’s Eastside Medical Center, in Snellville, GA. During the three weeks she fought for her life in the ICU, Christiana was joined by her daughter Edidiong “Dee” Udoro, sons Akemini “Dr. AK” Udoro, and Essang “EJ” Udoro.
Krissy, as some called her, battled COVID as a front-line healthcare worker as well as a patient. As her son AK said, “She never ran away from a fight.” She was only 52.
Christiana’s kids describe their mother as their “everything”— their “motivation to get up every day and do better.” She was also the “cool” parent, extremely stylish, and a heavenly cook. At 5-foot-5, dainty and petite, “Darling Baby”, as they called her, was tinier but spunkier than any of her adult children. They considered her their “most prized possession,” their “jewel.” Only problem? She loved to sing and was dreadful at it.
An old soul
The second youngest of twelve children, Christiana was born December 25, 1968, in Cross River State, Nigeria, to Affiong Ukpong and Antony Ukpong. When she was a young girl, community elders noticed that she was much more sophisticated than her playmates, an old soul, in other words. They nicknamed her Ekah Ette or Aunty.
Christiana, something of a daredevil, and her ten sisters “rolled like a gang” (her words) throughout much of school. She played soccer and other sports, rode a motorcycle, loved to dance, and listened to every sort of music except country. Among her favorite artists: Prince, Bob Marley, Anita Baker, Michael Jackson, AC/DC, Sade, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Kenny G, Muddy Waters, and Janet Jackson, who could have been Christiana’s twin.
Highly creative, she also sketched and painted, and understood the theory of building infrastructures, surprising since she never studied engineering or construction in school. Interested in the fashion industry as a career, Christiana—a head-turning beauty—planned to become a model but chose to go into nursing instead. Everything she did was for family and the glory of God, and she passed those values on to her children.
In about 1986, after coming to America, she lived in South-Central Los Angeles, where she and Joel Essien Udoro, a civil engineer she’d known since childhood in Nigeria, married on January 8, 1987. Children quickly followed: Edidiong Dee Udoro (now an industrial mechanic), in 1987; Akemini Dr. AK Udoro (a medical specialist), in 1990; and Essang EJ Udoro (a CDL driver becoming a pilot), in 1993. After eight years, the family moved to Stone Mountain, GA, and then, in 2000, they settled in Lithonia. Christiana was enamored with their new home and remained there until her untimely passing.
As far as her education, she attended Los Angeles Technical Trade College (LATTC) and worked in surgical, critical care psych, and ended with a specialty in home health for mentally and terminally ill patients. She also earned a Masters’s Degree in computer science and specialized in network and systems engineering. She worked for the Aflac IT Program for three years until returning to healthcare in 2008/2009.
Christiana completed nursing school while pregnant and raising a three-year-old and a five-year-old. Those with children can understand the level of focus and unwavering determination required to keep even one toddler, much less two, alive and well while pregnant and going to school.
Yet her kids never lacked for her attention. She attended all their school functions and sports events, they say, and was “hip” to everything. If they blundered, she would sit in judgment while guiding them to correct their actions. Despite labeling her kids a “roughneck bunch,” Christiana always talked about how proud she was of them. Along with checking on them throughout the day, she would pray for them and give them scripture to study. She sacrificed everything for her family.
But Christiana was also fun, often hilarious! Goofy at times, she loved tickle fights with her kids. Her laugh was infectious, a huge, boisterous laugh. Especially when sitting around watching cartoons with her brood and her niece, Favor. Everything she did was funny, every conversation riddled with a joke or witty story
One questionable habit was her ability to zero in on someone’s physical flaws. At first sight. Whether a blemish, a bruise, or a mole, the person would be met with, “You a lil’ crusty, honey…” It was funny but annoying.
Her birthday about everyone else
Any holiday or birthday, on the other hand, was a celebration. She even made her birthday about everyone else. Thanksgiving was precious because of the food and fellowship. She always tried to make the holidays about her kids. Her kids always tried to make the holidays about her. When everyone was in town, these events were intimate, giving, celebrations of life.
A terrific cook, she was an expert at traditional dishes such as Nigerian Jollof Rice (coconut flavored with shrimp), Shrimp and Chicken Fried Rice, and vegetable omelets. Her Pepper Soup (consisting of goat meat and a plethora of spices) was the spiciest in Atlanta.
A member of Salem Bible Church, Christiana adored reading scripture, teaching from the Bible, and praying for everyone. Days before she fell ill, she would always say, “God’s got me, so, I’m not worried about anything”
Addicted to shopping, she had endless clothes and shoes. Most were designer and expensive. Jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers were verboten. She and her daughter were in the process of remodeling her room and closet. She was thrilled for the upgrade so she could shop and add to her already extensive wardrobe.
Cocktail parties and such didn’t interest Christiana. She had ceased drinking alcohol ten years ago, not because she had to but because she wanted to. Imbibing alcohol was considered secular living, and she wasn’t having any of that. She only traveled, attended church, church functions, shopping, hair and nail appointments. And work.
A major philanthropist, she donated countless amounts of money and volunteered to various organizations and churches. No one truly knows what or how much she gave. She believed in unity, equality, and justice for all. Today’s Democrat vs Republican rhetoric disgusted her. But she thoroughly enjoyed Tik Tok and YouTube African comedian shows.
Wanted to be a grandmother
Christiana intended to go back to school to further her nursing degree. She and her sons were planning to move back to California once the youngest, EJ, became a pilot. She wanted nothing more than to assist in her children’s growth and accomplishments.
Due to her aversion to cats and dogs, she limited pets to goldfish and turtles. When her daughter Dee planned to get a dog, Darling Baby jokingly threatened to never again visit. The announcement was followed by a long embrace, and Christiana talking about getting old and moving in with Dee in the future
Predeceased by her parents and nine siblings, Christiana is survived by her husband Joel Udoro, daughter Edidiong “Dee” Udoro, sons Akemini “Dr. AK” Udoro and Essang “EJ” Udoro; her two older sisters Ima Antony Ukpong and Nwa Antony Ukpong in Cross River, Nigeria, and several nieces and nephews.
Memorial services are planned for Saturday, September 18, 2021, at 2 pm at Divine Mortuary & Cremation Services, 5620 Hillandale Dr, Lithonia, GA 30058. Burial will follow at Hillandale Memorial Gardens, 6201 Hillandale Dr, Lithonia.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent via Zelle (404-536-4819).
If you plan to attend Christiana’s memorial service, please RSVP in the Comment section below. Otherwise, leave your own memories of her.