Nee Nee….

I grew up in a plural family where the mothers had in common certain ideals, perspectives, and principles by which they tried to live by. I was one of those kids who was very sensitive to the conflicts that arise from plural living. At an early age, I came to the conclusion that even though there were difficulties I was not going to allow them to have bearing on me forging relationships with my other mothers. I decided that the bottom line was that I loved them and that’s what was important. And so, I built and nurtured relationships with my other mothers and became very close to them and in turn, they nurtured, loved, and mentored me. This was especially important for me going through my teenage years when I had a lot of conflict with my own mother. And so, the motivation for this post is to acknowledge the women who have mothered me, including my mother, but more specifically, Nee Nee. Nee Nee is what we called the second wife of my father. All us kids called her that, including her own.
The past week, Nee Nee has been hospitalized. A few days ago I went to visit her in the hospital. I was overcome with a myriad of emotions when I saw her there in her hospital bed. She hugged me to her tight…and her love for me was reaffirmed. I was embarrassed because I couldn’t keep back the tears..but these experiences carry great magnitude in the lives of all the children of our family. Nee Nee has been a constant fixture in my life. She’s helped me through some really rough, fearful experiences and been a sounding board for me when I’ve needed to just talk…or to verbalize my thoughts and emotions. She’s been a steady support to my mother. She’s loved Mother and been an honest, firm rooted friend, sister and companion. It’s this relationship between Nee Nee and my own mother that has given me a foundation of love for plural marriage. When a child sees two, three or more women work together, laugh together, cry together, have conflict with one another and still love and support one another, raise their children together, love the same man and share these emotions like two sisters would… it’s a powerful vision of what plural marriage can be.
..I got the word yesterday that Nee Nee’s condition is terminal. It’s highly disconcerting and emotional. And my heart is overflowing with love for her.. But also, I’m unsettled with the impending loss her going will be to our family. My mother has lost her mother not quite a year ago..and then my grandmother (my dad’s mother) passed away earlier this year in March which was also a huge loss not only to my mother but all of us, especially my dad…and now this. It wrings my heart…

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