Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Tribute

My first day of employment was in January, 1984. I had just turned 20 years old and was as green as the spring grass. They set me at a desk, my own desk with my own phone, my own typewriter, and a lot of papers. I was excited and scared. The first person I met was the lady who sat at the desk next to mine. Her name was Nancy. She seemed very motherly, and had a nice smile. She welcomed me and told me that if I needed anything she would be glad to help. Instantly, I felt a little better. 

It turned out Nancy and I had the same lunch hour. Often we would go out together, or sometimes just sit at a table in the lunch room and talk. We quickly became friends. 

About a year into my employment, my mother suffered her first brain aneurysm. I was very young, and the thought of losing my mother was unthinkable. Nancy helped me through that time. I will always remember that she gave me a little card; it had a picture of Jesus on the front, and on the back was a saying that assured  me nothing would happen to me in my life that God would not help me handle. For months I slept with that card under my pillow. It helped me through a very rough time. As the years went on I would pull it out anytime I had a stressful situation in my life and tuck it under my pillow until I felt better--until the situation passed. Several years later I gave the tattered card to a friend who was going through something very devastating in her life.  I told her the story of the card and how much it had helped me. It was hard to let go, but at the time the friend needed it more than I did. 

Nancy and I decided to form a bunco group. It would turn out to be something we did each month for 22 years. Nancy was a second mother to all of us, not only in the bunco group, but at work, and  essentially,  to everyone who knew her. Over the years I visited her home dozens of times. I got to know her children, and then her grandchildren. She was a devoted wife. She and her husband laughed, and showed love to everyone. They had a dedication you rarely see in couples, no matter how long they have been together. 

Nancy announced her retirement from our organization about five years ago. Shortly after she retired she found out she had lung cancer. Nancy was not a smoker, but always suffered from recurring bronchitis. She began treatment, and beat the cancer. During the period where she was cancer free she, her husband, and all the children and grandchildren went on a cruise together. A fabulous and memorable experience for everyone. 

In August of this year,  Nancy attended a retirement party for a former coworker. She looked great and felt great. She had just had a check up, and reiterated that she was cancer free. Shortly after that, she began to notice a problem with her legs. They didn't want to do what she commanded them to do. After a series of tests it was determined Nancy had a very large brain tumor. Apparently during follow-ups, they never scanned her brain. Only her lungs. The cancerous tumor was inoperable and there was nothing they could do. The doctors attempted radiation to shrink the tumor but to no avail. Within a couple of weeks Nancy started having trouble recognizing people. A few weeks later, in October, she was dead. 

Nancy's death has affected me deeply. Yet another mother figure to me is gone. My dear friend Mary, my own mother, and now Nancy. 

I will never forget Nancy. She's the type of person you may meet once or twice in your life, if you're lucky. She was a good woman and she touched many lives. She died too young, but the impact she had in 69 years is greater than the footprint most people would leave if they lived to be 100. 

Nancy, I will never forget the dozens of hysterical stories you told. Many times when we were all together, we would beg you to tell those same stories again. I will never forget the many adventures we had together, and the thousands of laughs we shared.  I will never forget your smile, your kindness, and the lessons you taught me. I will miss you.

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