A Feast of a Memoir
Reading memoir is like grazing at a smorgasbord of life paths. Enough Light for the Next Step: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Spirit (Latitude 46 Publishing, 2022) ratchets up the experience by moving the table to a fusion restaurant with Mennonite and First Nations offerings. We’re served up parallel stories of Annie Wenger, an American Mennonite-raised social worker, and Herb Nabigon, an Anishinaabeg elder and social work professor from Northern Ontario. They grew up in cultures facing oppression and discrimination but developed strong connections to Mother Earth. They experienced the sweet and savoury of marriage, children, divorce, tragedy, health challenges, and careers. Their paths crossed at a sweat lodge near Annie’s home and Herb proposed a week later. Married in 2006 they shared a beautifully sweet and healing ten-year love story. Sadly, dessert was overshadowed by the early awareness that Herb’s health issues would cut their meal short. He passed away at age 74 in 2016. Annie Wenger-Nabigon’s memoir is a deeply satisfying tribute to finally finding true love and then needing enough light for the path to move on through grief after an “amputation of the heart”.
When Annie met Herb, she was already involved with Indigenous communities due to her interests in history and her work with a historic fort that represented both settler and First Nations perspectives. Herb’s proposal precipitated her long-distance move to Northern Ontario and eventual dual citizenship. They lived the last four years of Herb’s life in their house at Pic River First Nation on Lake Superior, north of my hometown Sault Ste. Marie where Annie now lives.
While I have not experienced the death of a partner, I’ve been with mine for over twenty years. We also met later in life and cherish the gift of whatever time we have left together. As we age, we think about future inevitable losses. Annie’s memoir is a tribute to Herb, shares his Oji-Cree teachings and their love journey, and helps grieving people. I learned about Native healing philosophies including the Medicine Wheel and dealing with your ‘Rascals’. I learned about the cultural backgrounds of Annie and Herb and some of the barriers and personal challenges they overcame before they met. I knew a bit about Mennonite culture due to having lived in Waterloo, but I did not know their history of oppression when they left Europe.
This book showed me how different life paths can dovetail and make the combined life path stronger and some guidelines for dealing with future loss.
About the Author
Annie Wenger-Nabigon, Ph.D., is a retired therapist and social work educator. She was born in the mountainous southern territory of the Osage Peoples (northcentral Arkansas), the oldest child of Mennonite medical missionaries, and spent most of her childhood years in a Mennonite community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the traditional territory of the Susquehannock Peoples. Between the beginning of her story and the current time, she has travelled across many territories, borders and boundaries, always learning, always finding the Light. She currently resides in northern Ontario, Canada.
- Publisher : Latitude 46 (April 2 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 180 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1988989442
- ISBN-13 : 978-1988989440