“If you know me, then you know my aunt AKA mom meant everything to me! She raised me from 3 years old and taught me the true definition of a ‘strong Black woman.’ She taught me to love all people no matter their ethnicity,” Leakes wrote for the caption on Sunday, April 25.
“She said…’ it’s important to work hard as hell, be ambitious, have confidence, be honest, stand strong in your beliefs, and give us something to be proud of,’ ” Leakes continued.
The 53-year-old noted that she gets her humor from her late aunt. “She is hilarious! We would laugh about everything (wow, the memories).”
“No matter what life throws my way, I will continue to stand as the strong Black powerful woman you always taught me to be! Rest peacefully until we meet again🙏🏾 we are gonna celebrate you so big this week,” she added. “Nena Thomas 94 years old ❤️ Thank you all for your love & support.”
Fans flooded Leakes’ comments section with love, support and prayers for her and her family during this difficult time.
“My condolences 💐 Luv Bug! May your day be filled with memories of the good times & laughter that you both shared…Love ya & miss u, Queen 👑 🙌🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽.”
“What a blessing to have had her in your life! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. 💖.”
“Sorry for your loss. ❤️ thinking of you all.”
“Praying your strength, lady, during this difficult time. May God provide your heart with the type of comfort only he can supply. My deepest condolences to you and your family. 🙏🏾.”
“Prayers to you and your family NeNe. May God rest her soul. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾.”
“Chills! Sending you my love. We lost one of our matriarchs last year, and it’s just so refreshing to see Black women who don’t HAVE to take time out with you, raise you, and or love you. Do all three effortlessly. A true gem to your world. Sending you my love.”
Fans of Leakes who watched her on “RHOA” have gotten a sense of the pivotal role her aunt played in her life. In 2015, Leakes stormed off the season 7 “RHOA” reunion, crying after the reality star’s mother became a topic.
Dr. Jeff Gardere joined the reunion show with host Andy Cohen and Leakes revealed that she left his group therapy session with the rest of the cast because she felt that Gardere was making her the problem.
“I never want to be a victim. I’m a strong woman. My mother didn’t raise me. My father never claimed me,” Leakes said. “I have been lied to; I have been cheated on; I have been in an abusive relationship, but everybody else got to be like, ‘I’ve been bullied, my mom was never there for me, my brother died.’ ”
“Everybody else had all these issues that caused them to feel this way whenever I was in the room, but I was never that person who had any kind of issue myself. I never had anything. I did not like that,” she added.
Gardere said he knew about Leakes’ battles with abandonment. Former co-star Porsha Williams said everyone started to come at Leakes, making her defensive. Housewife Kandi Burruss rebutted that Gardere was there to represent the entire group, but Leakes became angry.
The ladies started to go back and forth, causing Leaks to cry and shake. Frenemy Kenya Moore, who also has a struggling relationship with her mother, told Leakes they have a lot in common.
Leakes then stood up, crying, and said, “I can’t talk about my mom!” Williams, Cynthia Bailey and former housewife Phaedra Parks walked off the set with Leakes, with her husband Gregg Leakes hugging his wife during the intense moment.
Gregg told Cohen that Leakes’ mother had five children, but couldn’t raise them all. Leakes moved to Athens to live and be raised by her aunt.
“She has always wondered why she had to be one of the ones sent away; it’s bugged her all her life,” Gregg said to Cohen.
Eventually, the mother of two returned to the set, saying, “I’m good.”
“Maybe I have been misunderstood somewhere along the line … people think I haven’t been through anything in my life. It’s just really hard to talk about my mom,” she added.
At the end of the reunion, Leakes believed that she and the other ladies shared a sisterhood. Leakes is no longer on “RHOA” because she and Bravo TV weren’t able to agree on contract negotiations.