The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Nancy Hathaway, Our Dear Friend - Rest in Peace

Today, in the early morning hours, Diane and I, and so many others, lost a dear friend, Nancy Hathaway. She died the day before her 63rd birthday

Nancy's husband, Joe, lost a loving wife, a partner who cherished him, cared for him, encouraged him, nudged him and sometimes shoved him, but always kept him pointing in the right direction. Her children and grandchildren lost a mother and grandmother whose deep love for them they will never fully comprehend, at least not in this life. And those of us who were blessed to be counted among her friends will miss her dearly, for she was one of those rare friends who always went the extra mile. We are joyful that she has gone to her true home, but her absence has left a hole in our hearts.  

Nancy and Joe - May 2018
At the end of her life on earth, Nancy was back home in Sumter, SC, together with her family. Of her four children only one was missing, but not really. Her youngest, John, returned to the Father last month, and as Joe said this morning when he called us: "John was there, waiting for his mother so he could carry her to the Father." Amen! I wrote a brief post about John the day he died -- click here if you'd like to read it. 
Nancy with granddaughters Allie & Gianna (2008)
Diane and I have known Nancy and Joe for well over a decade. I first met them when Joe applied for the position of director of our parish's music ministry and my pastor asked me to join him for the interview. In walked Joe with Nancy at his side. Joe handled the interview well, but Nancy was the one who iced the cake. She repeated the many testimonials, made sure we knew the breadth of Joe's experience, and handled all the negotiating. It was an impressive team performance. We hired him (them).

Nancy & Joe at our Home - December 2012
At the time Joe was working at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia. He and Nancy would drive down to Wildwood, Florida every weekend so Joe could lead our  parish's music ministry. Our pastor at the time put them up in an old Winnebago motor home he kept in a local RV park. It wasn't just an old motor home, it was an old, leaky and moldy motor home, unfit for human occupation. I expect our pastor didn't realize how bad it was since to my knowledge he'd never stayed in it, but as one of our other deacons remarked at the time, "Even St. Francis wouldn't stay here." And it was especially horrible for Nancy who at the time was recovering from brain surgery. So Diane decided Nancy and Joe should stay with us each weekend, and thus began our friendship.

The Four of Us - Tennessee (August 2009)
Over the years we've visited them as they moved, vagabond-like, from Georgia, to Florida, to Tennessee, and to South Carolina. I like to think they always considered our home as their home, a place they could stay, if necessary without notice. We certainly thought the same of their home, wherever it happened to be. We never demanded much of each other but each gave whatever was needed. It was the kind of friendship that didn't ask questions, except for, "What can we do?"

Diane and I got to know Nancy even better this past year since she and Joe lived with us for several months while Nancy underwent treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. As you might expect, driving to and from Tampa, plus all those hours during treatments, generated some interesting conversations that spanned the human condition and more. We shared the stories of our lives, cried occasionally, but laughed more, a lot more. The laughter was usually at ourselves and the strange things we've done and encountered over the years. We also prayed. We prayed for healing. We prayed for miracles. We prayed for each other and our families. But we always prayed that God's will be done, for He knows what is best and turns all to good for those who have faith and love Him [Rom 8:28].
Take it! We can't keep smiling: Nancy & Diane (2016)
Throughout much of her adult life Nancy waged an ongoing battle with illnesses many and varied. She suffered much and deeply, but never let suffering stop her from embracing the duties of this life. Heck, she never even slowed down, at least not until her very last days with us...a true energizer bunny. But now she can rest easy in God's loving embrace, for He "will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears..." [Is 25:8].
Giving me "the Look" -- Ocoee, TN (August 2011)
Describing another is always a very personal thing. The person I know and love may be a very different person to someone else, who sees her from a unique perspective. But if I were asked to describe Nancy with only a few words, I'd simply say, "Sweet, funny, loving and tough." For me, that says it all. 

Nancy seemed to be most relaxed when our little Bichon, Maddie, would assume the role of therapy dog and cuddle up with her. And remarkably, Maddie seems to know that something has happened. She has obviously missed Nancy since she and Joe returned to South Carolina last week. But today, our little dog has not been her usual enthusiastic, nagging self. Like most dogs, Maddie is sensitive to changes in the humans with whom she lives.

Dear Nancy, everyone, all your family and friends, will love you always. We will miss you, Sweetie, but we know we will be with you again. May Almighty God look upon you with kindness and give you peace. 

Pray for us, Nancy, intercede for us, and keep a place for us. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dana and Diane for being such amazing loving people in Nancy's life,I will miss her laugh,