Here comes the turnip truck!
Based on the last round of comments I’m getting the feeling that my sister Nancy (Jack’s mom) is a little jealous of all the attention that Margaret is getting. So the focus of this post will be Nancy. For more on Margaret you will need to catch the next truckload of turnips.
The following is not an excerpt from Nancy’s living eulogy, but it is an excerpt from the toast I gave at her wedding.
Eulogy or toast – it’s all the same.
When I was writing the toast, I had a ball trying to recall or unearth funny, wild and/or crazy stories about Nancy – stories that would help the wedding guests know her a bit better. I wanted stories that reflected Nancy’s vibrant personality. After using a bit of personal recall and interviewing many people, the Stories of Nancy took shape. That shape was an oval. And so the stories go…
Nancy is a beautiful, confident, hard-working (and rapidly approaching middle-age) woman.
My husband Jim loves the story of how Nancy was born a BHOA (Big Head of America – a term I first heard from my friend’s friend, Lynn), and he wanted me to include it in the wedding toast. At first I said: “Absolutely not! This is her wedding day and I cannot speak of the BHOANESS! Nancy is extremely sensitive when anyone brings up the subject. Best to leave that story alone.”
But Jim persisted and I said: “What the heck! She sort of grew into the size of her head after about 7 or 8 years. I should think that by now we can all talk about this somewhat traumatic time in her life and laugh. OK! I’ll do it!” And I did.
I also told a story about the time my family vacationed in the hills of Italy. At the time, Nancy was a young child. During this vacation my siblings and I were lucky enough to visit a very distant relative’s pig farm (our parents made us do it).
By the time we reached the pig farm, we were disgruntled because back at the hut, which my dad called “a nice-a house”, we were forced to use a mud hole in the ground as a toilet. It was very gross. Anyway, my siblings and I stood outside a pig pen staring, repulsed at the filthy, squealing creatures. We were very unhappy.
Perhaps the pigs sensed our disgust or they heard our spiteful comments about their way of life. Whatever the reason, those pigs broke through their pen’s protective barrier, chasing us through the slimy quagmire. We ran for our lives, slipping on the glop beneath our feet. Nancy, being as small as she was then, couldn’t run fast enough – I had no choice but to hoist her up onto my back and carry her the rest of the way to safety. This was difficult because of the BHOA issue. Nancy’s head had not yet grown into her body and it kept bobbing everywhere, throwing me off-balance.
At fist I didn’t want to use this story either because Nancy claims she still has nightmares about those pigs. But my mom felt this was a story of survival and thought that I should absolutely share it with the world (or at least with a room full of our nearest and dearest), so I said: “What the heck! That moment in the history of her life can’t be too tragic because she continues to indulge in Easter ham year after year with no problem. OK! I’ll do it!” And I did.
After finding out about my little scavenger hunt to find stories, Nancy’s best-friend-in-the-world-Kate wanted me to tell everyone about a hilarious moment Nancy experienced at the gym a few days before her wedding. As it turns out, Kate thought the moment was hilarious. Nancy did not.
It was a sunny summer day and Nancy decided to go to the gym and pump some iron. Her first stop was the barbel contraption. Apparently, Nancy was mid-squat when her exercise pants split open, exposing her polka-dotted undies. Those nearby heard the cheap fabric tear and turned to see what happened. When they spotted the funny-looking undies they started to laugh – loudly.
Mortified, Nancy tried to put the barbel back on the holder-thingy and leave, but the shame that was washed over her in that moment caused her arms to shake violently making her lose control of the metal beast, which she then swung into the nearby enormous weight stand, knocking it over and generating even more of a raucous. By this time the entire gym was looking in her direction and everyone was pointing and laughing. Nancy left the gym crying and then promptly called to cancel her membership. She never wanted to see that lot of laughers again.
I told Kate that she should be ashamed of herself for breaking the trust that Nancy had placed in her. Nancy told Kate this secret in confidence and assumed it would go no further. But Kate insisted that the story wasn’t told in confidence and that it was definitely not a secret, so I said: “What the heck! If we can’t all laugh at life’s little snafus, where would we be? OK! I’ll do it!” And I did.
I wish I hadn’t included this story in my toast. I think Kate lied to me. I think this story really was a secret because ever since that fateful week, I’ve noticed Nancy turn green and run out of crowded rooms where large groups of people are gathered and laughing. These innocent folks were only enjoying their respective jovial conversations. They were not laughing at Nancy, but that didn’t seem to matter. I can only guess that she recalls the scarring gym incident whenever she hears a group of people – any group of people – laughing near her. Oopsy.
On the flip-side of the character coin, Nancy is a headstrong, stubborn, extremely assertive (and rapidly approaching middle-age) woman.
When Nancy wants to do something – whether preparing for a marathon, bungee jumping or sky-diving – she does it passionately.
I remember the time she ran for political office in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Nancy ran as a republican. Nancy got all of her friends and family to stand on street corners and hold signs with her name boldly imprinted across it. As I recall, Nancy never actually held one of those signs herself, she just posed for pictures with strange little children and bossed her minions around.
Because I admired her ambition, I stood in the freezing cold rain outside the polling building for hours on end the day of the election, holding one of those obnoxious signs. Because I stood in the freezing cold rain outside the polling building for hours on end the day of the election holding one of those obnoxious signs, I caught a vicious cold. Because the cold was so vicious, it took me months to get rid of it.
Ironically, I’m not a Republican and I couldn’t even vote for Nancy because I lived in another city at the time.
Nancy didn’t win, but she earned a Q for the title Queen. Wear that tiara proudly, Nancy!
Until next time…
I’m turning off the turnip truck.