I Lost a Friend

When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand and nothing, nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest night–You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall all you’ve got to do is call, and I’ll be there, yes I will. You’ve got a friend–Lyrics and Music by Carole King

I heard about it while on vacation in California. The news came from an unexpected source. We had joined friends at the Village Pub in Woodside CA. During dinner my friend, Carla, mentioned she had visited her sister-in-law and happened to pick up a Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC) publication The Winged M inside which she saw that a member had died in January.  Carla thought she recognized the name as that of a woman to whom I had introduced her. Carla was quick to add, “it might not have been the same person.” 

I was stunned. I had left a phone message in January for my friend Nancy, teasing her that she had promised to let me know when her knee surgery was scheduled and to show me the newest pictures of her grandchildren taken over the holidays.

Nancy and I had a special greeting for each other when we called on the phone one of us would say, “Naaaaaannnnccceeeee!” and the other would respond, “Caaaaaaathhhhhhhheeeee” and then we would laugh.

Nancy grew up in New York.  She was an only child and she married an only child. Nancy loved the theatre. She was a devoted patron of the arts. She was sophisticated, vibrant, intellectual, gracious, attractive with absolutely gorgeous eyes and she was tall (6′ tall). I would always tell her that “I am 6′ tall too.” She’d look at me dubiously as I stand 5′ 3.5″  and I would point out with determination as if it could make it so “but I envision myself as 6′!” She did not argue the point.

Nancy loved to travel and especially visit Germany where she had family and had taken her oldest granddaughters last year. Nancy loved her boys, her daughters-in-law and her grandchildren. She would come to lunch with an envelope full of new photos of the children and plenty of stories about accomplishments and describe in great detail their personalities.

Nancy and I met on the MAC track  when her youngest son, Graham who is nearly 40 yrs. old, was a freshman at Jesuit High School. We formed a fast, fond and fine friendship bond. She introduced me to friends in her life and I introduced her to friends in mine. She and Dan asked me to sing ‘show tunes’ at the engagement party for their eldest son, Scott and his fiancée Josie. My husband and I attended the weddings of both boys and the funeral of Dan.

Nancy and I shared similar political and social views, yet we would have spirited conversations peppered with facts, opinion and emotional outbursts.

Dan was one of the principal lynchpin for the Portland Ballet and Nancy’s life was rooted firmly in the art’s community of Portland Center Stage for which she vigorously raised funds and promoted attendance and support from friends.

It was Nancy who took me to the hospital for a second surgery to biopsy tumors in my neck on the morning after she brought Dan home from the hospital where he had a triple by-pass the week before. She insisted because my husband and parents were out-of-town and my son was only 15 and had no license. Then she left Dan alone to bring me back home the next morning.

It was Nancy who encouraged me to speak to a MSW when I was diagnosed with head/neck cancer. It was the best advice she could have offered. I think Nancy mourned the loss of my voice nearly as much as I. She was kind enough not to ask me about it and utterly empathetic when I wanted to talk about it.

Two years ago Nancy and I met for lunch at Meriwether’s  where I introduced her to my new passion, Hide A Heart. She cheered out loud and touted to the heavens how she was absolutely certain I had created a ‘winner!’ She purchased ‘Love You’ and ‘Hope & Healing’ Hide A Heart for gifts. Questions about the progress of Hide A Heart were asked when we would meet once she got the lo-down on my family first and then me.

That was Nancy…well, that is just the tip of the iceberg about my friend Nancy, whom I lost unexpectedly in January but did not know she had moved out of this world until March 20, 2011.

I heard from Marcia that a ‘Celebration’ service is planned for August. That’s exactly what I once mentioned to Nancy during one of our ‘marathon catch-up visits’!  “Please!” I said with great dramatic flair, “If I should die in the winter or around the holidays, DO NOT NOTICE! Just plan something in August when you can count on the weather in PDX!” and we laughed until we cried.

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