Time would pass and I quickly learned what an amazing woman my father had married. My relationship with him strengthened and became better than it was before mom had left this world. He learned to reach out and communicate in a manner I'd never witnessed before. I got the father I always needed, and it was Nancy who let him BE that man. It's hard to explain, but there was a transformation in him. He was given a new lease on life and he was happier than he'd been in ages. WE were happier.
Fast forward a few years. In 1999 my world -- our world -- would be rocked again by dad becoming ill. Like mom, his decline was rapid and his passing surreal. I had been living in Georgia. I wasn't there to say good-bye, but my last conversation with him was filled with declarations of love. The past was shut away and we had become closer than ever. Nothing was left unsaid. No regrets.
Nancy was so far removed from the stereotypical step mother. She is a friend. A confidante. If I need to talk; she listens. If I need advice; she'll dispense it if I ask for it. If I don't take that advice, she doesn't say 'I told you so.' She supports me in my errors and rejoices with me in my triumphs. She's everything a girl could want in a mom.
For many that might have left a house divided. That wasn't the case. Nancy was and is the matriarch of our diverse clan. For many of the grandchildren she is Grandma. She's the only grandmother they know. She's the one who spoils them to the best of her ability (and the big kids, too). This post truly can't give her the justice necessary. It's hard for me to put into words the important role she plays in my life. In all our lives. She is astounding. If ever there was a question over whether unconditional love exists, I would tell you to talk to my mom, Nancy.
She entered my life at a tumultuous time, and managed to calm the storms. She took a wayward sailor and brought him into port. She reunited a broken family without realizing she'd done it. That woman I was determined not to like is a woman I now proudly call Mom.