Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 5, 1997...the day the earth stood still.

Twelve years ago two amazing women left their homes on earth and were rejoicing with the Lord together in heaven. One was known around the world as someone who lived a life that exemplified service and love to those less fortunate, and who said: "Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." Mother Teresa was a bright light into a very dark world.
The other woman was not world famous, but to those who knew her she was a shining example of that very same philosophy. My mom, Nancy Meeker, ("Nanny" to her kids and grandchildren) lost her battle with ALS within hours of Mother Teresa's passing. Two great woman - two great losses.

a watercolor done by artist Frank Stanley Herring - Nanny at age 12

Nanny was quite remarkable - born in 1925, she was raised in New Jersey and was a 1946 graduate of Vassar College. It was a time she would often speak of with a great deal of happiness. The first part of her life was devoted to us, her family, as well as to her community. After we moved to Santa Barbara in 1971, she went to work as Office Manager to Hatch & Parent Law Offices.

"Nancy had much to do with the culture of Hatch and Parent, the caring for each other. Her influence made us ladies and gentlemen and responsible human beings at a time when our profession was turning the other way."

She retired after 20 years to go back to school. At the age 63 she received her M.A. in Counseling Psychology and went on to be licensed as a M.F.C.C.

She worked as a counselor at Family Service Agency - ironically she counseled the group, Children of Aging Parents, lending support to adults who were struggling with their roles as caregivers to their parents. She left after five years when she was joyously reunited with Bill Meeker, a friend from her college days. They were married in 1994 and moved back east - I never saw her happier...... Unfortunately less than three short years after her wedding, Nanny was diagnosed with ALS - Lou Gherig's disease. One thing I haven't mentioned so far is that my mom was a gifted and published writer. Her final piece was a journal she wrote about her struggle with this disease - she pecked it out with one little finger on a laptop over the course of seven months - it was published after her death in a book called Journeys with ALS by David Feigenbaum, which can still be found on Amazon today....

"Close relationships, giving and receiving love have always been of the highest priority for me and now I am floating in a sea of love."

One of the most profound testimonies of who my mother was is this: after she could no longer speak, lift her arms, walk, or even swallow - a nurse named Kate came to help Bill on a regular basis. She fell head-over-heals in love with my mom, bringing her young daughter to visit and even arranged to have her big band style singing group come to her home for a private concert. Kate never heard her speak, but saw in my mother's eyes a love that was beyond words.
"I think perhaps the miracle has been the serenity of spirit that I have been given. I consider it a precious gift from God. If I am being used for a higher purpose and if people see a light in me, I hope they recognize the source."
Nancy Lohrke Meeker, "Journeys with ALS"
We did.

Nanny also said in her journal that it was difficult to think she would dim in people's memories.
That will never happen....
I love you mom,
ps: I'd like to give a shout out to my sister Kate Bennett who wrote my mom's tribute for the newspaper - without that beautiful piece I could not have written this post.


  1. Sherry Collins ZabelSeptember 6, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    Spent a wonderful day with Bill Meeker, Aunt Nancys second husband,listening to all the stories of the happy time he and Nancy shared.
    I miss Aunt Nancy so much but am thankful she has brought Uncle Bill into my life.

  2. Pammy, Your tribute to your mother is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing her love and beauty with us. I am one of the lucky ones...I still have my beautiful mother who will be 89 next month. Have a wonderful Labor Day. xxoo Rosemary

  3. What a beautiful woman your mom was Pam, and you're so much like her!

  4. Of all the accomplishments of this amazing worman, the love and faith she instlled in her children and those she touched with all she was is her greatest legacy. I did not have the opportutnity to know her, but her light does most certainly continue to shine through this tribute and through you.


  5. This is a great tribute to a wonderful person. I thought this was inspirational and I'm glad I had the time to view this.