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We are shaped by our 'families'

Family is defined as folks being descendants of a common ancestor.
But family is also those that not are blood related. This is your tribe--the ones who really know you.
I belong to several tribes. My Pickle Land tribe features a man named Nelson Bland.
There is not an adequate way of describing him. He is Nelson.
I am the writer I am today because of him. I met him in 2001 when I was fresh out of college. It was the first time that I had been away from home and he had been writing for at least 30 years. He had high standards and was determined that I would meet and exceed those standards. And eventually, I did. And the day that he said that was one of the happiest days of my life.
The contrast between us is night and day. I am a five-two black woman and he is a heavyset, five foot white man. But he has never seen color.
He was never married so there is no wife or kids. Our family consist of me, Nelson, Ruth, Steve and Johnny. Nelson and the Fantastic Four.
At 70, he has slowed down some with health issues but I always figured that he would be around somehow. I truly believe that God is not ready for him in heaven yet.
On Aug. 7, he fell due to an infection in his leg and a UTI. And from there, a bleeding ulcer was discovered.
Since then, he has been given 15 units of blood. Currently, he is still bleeding and on a ventilator in ICU.
It has been hard seeing him lying there so quiet. Nelson is not a quiet man. He is loud and boisterous. If there is a question to be asked, he will ask it.
I keep waiting for him to wake up and ask me to tell him some Duplin County gossip.
I want him to beg me to sneak a burger and sierra mist into the hospital for him.
He is more than a friend. He is like a surrogate dad. Every week since I have returned to Pickleland, I count on three things— talking to him twice a day, seeing him on Wednesdays and him reading my newspaper.
I am scared. I am trying to be strong for everyone else but I am scared. In our tribe, I am the youngest at 41 so I known him for the least number of years.
Collectively, we know Nelson better than anyone on this earth.
We know his favorite drink (sierra mist), favorite kind of music (rap) and that he is deathly afraid of mice.
All I can do is pray and continue on. I hope and pray that this isn’t the end. 

1. Prayer
2. Grape soda
3. Being a part of several tribes!


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