Nancy Nichols
Nancy Nichols passed to her rest last night. It came suddenly and I can hardly believe she’s gone now. Nancy was one of the spunkiest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She was always passionate about whatever she did.

About five years ago she fought cancer and won. Then she was diagnosed with cancer again a couple of months ago, and had just started chemo (again). Then last week she was in a car accident which landed her in the hospital. It did not seem to be serious though. Then we got word that she had an infection. Then we were told she was unresponsive. And then this morning we got the unexpected news that she had not made it through the night.

Nancy had gone on a couple of mission trips, one to Ghana, and another to Peru. She retired last year as a registered nurse. She was one of the first people I met when we first attended the Concord Adventist Church. Back when I lived in Northern Virginia, I had to come up here for a couple of days every couple of months. I had enough frequent flyer miles built up that when I had to come up in June 2003, I brought the whole family up here with me for a working vacation. When we showed up for church, it was almost empty except for Nancy and Emma Haggett (who died last August). Almost everyone else was was at the annual Camp Meeting in Freeport Maine. But Nancy and Emma both made us feel as welcome as could be.

I invited Nancy to teach the Bones, Muscles, and Movement honor to the Pathfinders a couple of years ago, and she agreed to do that. She also financed the registration & membership dues of more than one kid who wanted to join Pathfinders.

She was always delightful to hang around with. Funny, always ready to help out, sometimes irreverent (in a good way) and not one to beat around the bush. You always knew what she was thinking, and it was usually a riot.

Nancy had the habit of giving names to the things she had that gave her trouble. Her computer’s name was Ichabod. She also had names for her vehicles, but I can’t think of what they were right now. She had a prayer list a mile long and on the church mailing list would frequently ask for updates on people for whom she was praying.

She had a heart of gold. I’m going to miss her!

Last night we were out at Ken’s farm building a raft for the Pioneering Honor. Before we were finished, I found out that Ken’s mother Emma had been admitted to the hospital on Monday. She took a turn for the worse, so Ken, his wife Joyce, and his two kids left before we were finished.

I am not terribly perceptive when it comes to these things, so I didn’t think too much about it. But when I got home, there was an email from Joyce conveying the gravity of Emma’s situation. She died last night around 1:00.

Joyce was the one who suggested we work on this honor, so it was largely because I wanted her kids to get it that we’re working on it now. Therefore, I told her I wanted to cancel our raft trip. She got back to me right away, telling me that Ken wanted us to go ahead with it and that she and the boys still wanted to go on the trip.

So we’re going to go on the trip.

Ken was scheduled to lead out in church tomorrow, but since he won’t be able to, I’m going to stand in for him. The sermon will be a DVD, which means that I would have been leading out solo, which I don’t like. So I asked my friend Jeff to come up with me. He agreed, and I do like it so much better that way. I think it goes much smoother when two people can tag-team through the service instead of just one person doing it all.

After work Jonathan and I headed to a co-worker’s house to get her canoe, life jackets, and paddles. Then we met Va, David, and Beth at Olive Garden for supper. Service was a little slow, so David and I had to hustle out to make it to the last evening of Honors Week. David taught the Endangered Animals honor.

We had a pretty good turn out too. This has been the most successful Honors Week ever if measured by the number of honors earned. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from parents on it too, so that’s also good.

I think this year we’re going to have 21 kids in the club – the most we ever had before this was 16, so that’s a pretty good-sized increase. I’ll also have 7 staff members, so I need to take a look to make sure we have enough tents and other equipment for camping. I’m pretty sure we have enough dinner gear, so that’s no worry.

It’s shaping up to be a good year!

Tonight they executed what’s-his-name in Virginia. I can’t remember his name (nor do I wish to), but I do remember the name of his victim – Dean Meyers. He was killed at a gas station in Manassas Virginia. I lived in Manassas for 13 years. I filled my tank at that very station, even at the very pump Meyers was using when he was shot. I was about a quarter mile away when this happened, at a Lowes in a nearby shopping center (buying a couple of bags of mulch if I remember correctly).

I drove by that gas station (a Sunoco) at least twice per day. Just about everyone in Manassas did, as that was how you got onto I-66, which is pretty much how you got anywhere from Manassas. The next morning I was taking my sons to school and we drove by the Sunoco. It was covered with investigators and police tape. That’s the sort of thing that prompts questions in the minds of grade-school boys. I wanted them to feel safe and be safe, but we had this monster on the loose. I also wanted them to know the truth. So I told them what happened there. I am glad that this information didn’t seem to change them.

I continued to fill up at that gas station, and I thought about Dean Meyers every time I went there. I was a pretty happy guy when they caught his murderer. I do not regret his execution tonight, but I also do not celebrate it.

My good friend Cheryl lost her mother last week. While I was busy fixing the dryer last Thursday evening, we got the word that her mother had succombed to a stroke. She had been in the hospital for only a few days.

Cheryl was my Pathfinder club’s director before I took over that position, and she was very good at it. I learned an awful lot from her. She is a very dear friend, and it breaks my heart to know what she’s going through now.

The memorial service was this evening, and our whole family went. It was a lovely service, but for me, the most touching part was when Bette Midler’s “The Rose” was played. That was her mother’s favorite song, and I had never really given it a fair listen until this evening. Here’s the part that got to me:

Just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed that with the sun’s love
in the spring becomes the rose

Powerful stuff!

I lost a friend last night at about 11:30 pm. Sally Locke was a member of my church and one of the Pathfinder staff in our first year here. She and her husband Bob both served with us that year, but they were as yet not married to one another. They camped with us and attended pretty much every meeting. Sally counseled the Explorer unit, and Bob, an ex-marine, was our drill instructor. Most people will immediately draw an incorrect conclusion about an ex-marine being our DI. Bob was gentle. He gave the commands in a friendly (though firm) voice. Everyone could hear him, and no one would think he was angry. It was great to have them as part of our club.

I was at a Pathfinder meeting near the end of the PF year (i.e., May) when I learned that Bob and Sally were engaged to be married, and that August (2005), they were married at our church. It must have been the hottest day in Concord in 25 years, and the (unair-conditioned) church was packed. Right after they got married they moved to Florida.

Sally had Parkinson’s disease. It was mild when she lived here, but it worsened as time went on. About two years ago she underwent some surgery to try to help her out, but there were complications. She was on an almost steady decline that came to an end last night. We will miss her.