Both my sister in law, Amy and I spoke. My nephew Sam read a poem and a family friend sang a truly beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace.
Here's what I said:
Our family is blessed with so many memories of Nancy. Memories like: How she read Donkey Donkey to the twins so many times that they had it memorized by the time they were three. Picnics and tea parties. Sleep overs and shopping trips. Taking walks and picking flowers. Using every ounce of her home ec teaching to help guide me on how to keep house and cook. Walking down to the pasture with the twins to watch and name the cows at Davey Surprising everyone (Jeff included) by winning a puppy at a charity auction. Listening to family stories for the fiftieth time and watching Nancy smile as she reminisced. Memories of each and every holiday being special and perfect. She was a stellar cook and lovely hostess. She welcomed the children into her kitchen to help; she made Corynn and her matching aprons and even let the kids use the little torch to burn the sugar
on top of their creme bruele on Christmas. We were so excited to have them in Lincoln with us. Taking the kids to pumpkin patch last Halloween and helping the twins pick out homecoming dresses. Nancy was born to be a grandma. She was exceptional. She loved those children and it showed in so many special ways. She was so excited to share her joys and interests with them. Perhaps a little too excited because I'm pretty sure she fudged the twins' birthdates so they could start Prairie Preschool sooner. She made all of the holidays fun; special Easter baskets and fun things for Halloween. Making sure Santa stopped by to visit on Christmas and teaching the girls about May Day. One of my favorite memories of Nancy is when she and Jeff took the twins shoe shopping at the mall when they were two. They were gone a really long time and when they finally arrived back home, Nancy came in carrying the shoes and Jeff brought each girl in one at a time still strapped in their carseats. I immediately knew this couldn't be good. Apparently while at the mall, the salesman could only find one pair of light up shoes. And with twins - that is not good. Nancy did her best to fix the situation and left Jeff to watch the girls. Once Nancy had it all resolved she found Jeff sitting on a bench but no girls. She immediately began to worry and panic about having lost the girls. They hadn't really lost them. Jeff was watching them hide in the clothing racks and sneak out on unsuspecting shoppers. Jeff thought it was hilarious. Nancy not so much. After dropping off the girls, Nancy said "These girls may look like you, but they are just like their father!" And then she smiled- probably because she realized John was about to get as good as he gave. Another reason I like this story is because it illustrates how wonderfully Jeff and Nancy complimented each other. They were an amazing example of marriage and teamwork. I absolutely love the story of how they met. Jeff was the house boy at Nancy's sorority. Shortly after taking that job the cook up and quit. So Jeff seeing the opportunity in front him, thought 'hey cooking for a house full of ladies and getting a promotion...heck ya I'll learn how to cook!' It wasn't long before the 'house full of ladies' didn't matter as much as one in particular. And I'm thinking he didn't learn to cook very well because he lost that job soon after. But I have a feeling it didn't matter much, because he had the girl! Nancy loved her family. Her children and grandchildren. She dearly loved the Kelly family and was diligent in sharing and passing along their family traditions with our families. And being an only child growing up- she fully embraced Jeff's siblings. I loved the way her face would light up when she talked about them. Pat's sense of style and class. Sheila's ability to tell the best stories and KC's musical talents. Nancy was so set on making sure last Christmas was special for them. That their gifts from the heart were meaningful, and at a time when she should have been focused on herself. Just another example of her selflessness. Many of my memories of Nancy are tied up in the example she set. She showed me the kind of mother I hope to be. She loved John and I unconditionally. In the beginning, we made decisions she wouldn't necessarily have made and despite that she supported us. She never let us know her disappointment or criticisms. She was always there for us. Always so supportive. When Corynn was born with a birth injury, she spent many late nights, scouring the internet researching her diagnosis and treatment options. She went with us to Mayo Clinic, providing moral support, an extra set of ears and a sounding board for two young parents. She was with Corynn during her hospital stay and helped John and I take shifts. She was amazing. The biggest lesson I learned from her was kindness. Nancy was always so kind. So kind in fact it was hard for her joke or be sarcastic. Jeff and I have always given each other a hard time and every once and while Nancy would chime in with a really great zinger, but she would apologize before I could tell her how awesome it was. Now I'm not saying she didn't have a sense of humor because serving your future daughter in laws bbq chicken legs and corn on the cob with white linen napkins is really funny! I firmly believe that a person's true character is revealed during hardships and adversity. And Nancy was strong, loving and kind to the very end. At every visit she would speak about how wonderfully supportive Jeff was being and how she appreciated him so much. She put on a brave face during the holidays and toughed out some family outings so that the children's Christmas wouldn't be ruined by her illness. At near the very end when her legs were causing her pain and she was needing help with everything. A health aid and I were helping move her from her bed. I saw her wince in pain, and immediately began to apologize. And she looked at me and said "no i'm sorry. I'm sorry you have to help me and do all of this." Even then she was thinking of others above her self. She took care of everyone for so long. Her husband, her children, her daughters in law, her mom and Jeff's dad...it was an honor to be with her and care for her when she needed it most. Nancy, we will remember you always and love you forever.
The family will be together again this weekend for Easter, which is good. I think family time with the grandchildren is just what Jeff needs!