We lived on a small lake near Peoria, IL for a few years. It was about 600 acres, big enough to water ski, but small enough to be pretty private. One of the first people I met was Nancy Schulte. We became best friends. Nancy was impossible NOT to like. She was always happy, always saw the bright side of things, and talked a mile a minute. I've been accused of talking too much, but I couldn't even hold a candle to Nancy!
She always wore two different earrings. She went barefoot, seems to me it was year round. Okay, not in the snow, but the shoes came off as soon as she was in the house.
Here's a pic of Nancy and me working on one of our projects. Her son Jo sent it to me today. I'm still trying to figure out where we were and what we were doing. I know for sure we were having fun.
Nancy had beautiful gray hair. With hair like that, bring on the gray!! She had a body of a woman 20 years her junior, and she wasn't afraid to flaunt it. She really didn't care what people thought of her, including me. She was a self-motivated woman who had a hard life and never once complained about it.
I'm glad she met Bob Saville in her later years. He was the love of her life. They married and they traveled, and they did what they wanted to do, always with each other. They were smart enough not to wait to enjoy life. They enjoyed it to the fullest and they enjoyed each other. They were like two teenagers.
About four or five years ago, I noticed Nancy wasn't talking as much. In fact she was barely talking at all, and she had to stop for a breath frequently. She told me she had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. I had never heard of it. Of course I Googled it and found out it was even worse than she had told me. But of course, I thought to myself, if anybody can fight it and win, it's Nancy!
About six months ago, she asked me to come out and visit, and I could tell that she wanted to see me one more time. We couldn't find a day to hook up. I don't know why. Maybe it was denial on my part, maybe on hers too. The one day I was coming back to Illinois in the near future didn't work for her. We both just let it drop.
In one note she told me that if this was her life, then it could be over any time. She didn't have the energy to do anything, and she was sick of hauling around an oxygen tank. Then she started talked about this stem cell treatment in Mexico. She and Bob scraped together the money and headed out. She had one treatment and walked out the door - no oxygen. She raved about how well she felt. She could walk, she could talk. We had one long Skype phone call, just like the old days. No pauses for breath, just Nancy chattering away!
She and Bob rented a trailer on the edge of the desert, I think. I don't remember exact location. They were happy, were enjoying life. She was to go back to Mexico in six months for another treatment.
Tonight I got an email from Bob. He never sends me emails. Nancy does. The subject line read "Nancy." I started shaking, my heart felt heavy, I opened it and there it was. Nancy died at 7 am today. The world is a lesser place without her.
I shall wear two different earrings tomorrow in honor of our friendship.
I love you, Nancy, wherever you are.