January 13, 2012 - August 13, 2016
January 13, 2012 - August 13, 2016
Deji’s origin are from both sides of the Atlantic. His mother Kim hails from the Stephens and Bennett families from Marshall Texas. His dad, Dr Oladele Olusanya is descended from the Olusanya-Olukoya family of the ruling house of Oremadegun in Odogbolu, Ogun State Nigeria. They also have roots in the Odusanya family from Ita Ntebo in Ijebu-Ode and the Solesi family from Ikenne, Remo. He was a child of both worlds, equally at home in Lagos, Nigeria as in Marshall or Dallas TX. In his short life, he has travelled to many parts of the United States including Washington, DC, Maryland, Florida and Los Angeles, California. Abroad, he has been to Nigeria, the Netherlands and England.
Deji is the second of a pair of twins. Therefore he was named Kehinde at birth. This means ‘second to come’ in Yoruba. His first name is Ayodeji, which was shortened to Deji. It was given to him by his grandfather, Prince Gabriel Olayide Olusanya, now deceased. His name means ‘joy has doubled’ and indeed our joy was doubled when he was delivered with his twin sister, Oluwadara. For his third name Gabriel, after he great Archangel of God, he was named after his maternal grandfather.
The pregnancy and delivery of Deji and his twin sister were miracles in themselves. Their mother had ruptured membranes at 24 weeks pregnancy. Her cervix (birth canal) was almost completely dilated. The obstetrician at St Paul’s Hospital, UT Southwestern Medical Center did not think the pregnancy would last more than 26 weeks, the chances of survival for the two twins were very slim. But their mother Kim prayed and persevered. She made the obstetrician keep her on admission right there in the Labor and Delivery room until she finally went into labor at 32 weeks pregnancy. Meanwhile, their dad kept a vigil sleeping on a couch by her bedside every night for those three months. Dara, the first twin came by cephalic presentation (head first) and Deji the second twin was a breech presentation (buttocks first). However they came out by normal vaginal delivery. When they were delivered, they were so small each of them could easily fit into the palm of one hand. They were kept in the neonatal intensive care unit for six weeks. But once they came home, they grew by leaps and bounds, catching up and outpacing their peers born at full term by the time they were two years of age.
Deji and his twin sisters were precious babies, the love of their families and the apples of their parents’ eyes. Their grandparents delighted in them. Deji in particular became a very lovable ‘small man.’ He would run everywhere and climb everywhere. He learned to swim very early. With his sister would ride Dara’s horse, named Davey, on their uncle’s ranch in Marshall, TX. Deji remained strong and fit since the day he was born. He was never ill. When he ran, he had the balance of a running back, and people commented that he was certain to be very good in sports. He loved watching old reruns of western movies with his grandfather. He was meant for great things, to become an healthy young man enjoying the love and support of his parents, extended family and their network of friends. He never ran out of someone to take care of him. He and his twin sister Dara were to start prekindergarten this Fall, and were both looking forward to it. They had already become adept at using their computer tablets and the ABC Mouse educational program. It was a great and sudden tragedy in the mid afternoon of Saturday, August 13, 2016, when his young promising life was cut short. He was in his grandparents’ home, a place where he and his twin sister played every day, and where they were taken care of while their parents were at work. Everyone was at home, doing something or the other, Deji, Dara, Grandpa Michael Stephens, Grandma Marva Stephens and his cousin, Dominic Jones. Deji as usual was playing around the house. Suddenly there was a loud ‘pop.’ Everyone ran to him. It was too late. Somehow, he had found a gun kept in the houset. The gun had gone off and Deji lay lifeless on the floor. Our precious Deji was gone. No words could describe the scene of that awful tragedy and the pain and anguish in the heart of everyone in that terrible moment that no one could take back.
That morning when he woke up, he left his room an crawled into bed with me, drawing up the bedsheets to cover his head. He told his mother he wanted to be with his ‘Baba.’ He did not want to go anywhere. Indeed, throughout his brief life, Deji was pleasant, spontaneous and lovely, handsome like his paternal grandfather, who was nicknamed the Black Prince. To me his ‘Baba’ and his ‘Mommy’ he was our bundle of joy and love. Always mischievous, sometimes too playful, he was always running around and would make anyone around him run around with him, until they drop to their knees spent and tired. How can we ever fathom why he is no longer with us? He was a gift that was given to us, but too soon taken away. Our sorrow and loss will never pass, even though time, they say, heals all wounds. We thank God for our blessings that we still have Dara and their older siblings, Yetsy and Laide. We pray to God to give us the strength we don’t think we have and to lead us in the right path with wisdom and understanding.
As parents, we weep and cannot be consoled when we think of the lovely and promising life that was truncated, or that our Deji would not have a graduation ceremony from high school, a prom date, or a soccer game for us to watch from the sideline. It is very difficult not to feel regret, shame and guilt with the sense of having failed an innocent child. But God knows best. We know Deji was loved and protected by all who came into contact with him – parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family members and our extended circle of friends.
Through their lives, from the time they shared their mother’s womb together, Deji and her twin sister Dara had been inseparable. They had never been away or apart from each other for more than a few minutes. Anywhere one went, the other had to follow. They slept together, played together, and ate together. If you bought something for Deji, you had to get the same thing for Dara. Neither of them ever said the word ‘I.’ It was always ‘We want this,’ or more likely, ‘We don’t want that.’ Our task now is to pray for Dara for God to keep her. And for us her parents, despite our inconsolable grief, to work hard to help her survive and grow mentally, spiritually and intellectually. We know that Dara is now our two twins incorporated, fated to carry on the promise and legacy of the two twins. She is now not just herself but the representative of Deji as well, the very epitome of the twins now become one.
And when Dara said, ‘I miss my brother, and I will never see him again,’ we could only tell her that her Deji has gone to heaven. He is an angel now and would watch over her, and us.
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