A special life teaches lessons about growth and simplicity

By Debra Whittington

Religion Columnist


“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people…” Psalm 149:4

Last week, a dear member of our church and community was laid to rest. By the world’s standards she didn’t perform any outstanding feats, nor was she known by her intellectual mind, but to those who knew her she will forever be remembered for her sweet spirit and her love of life.

By doctor’s standards, Nancy wasn’t supposed to live. In fact, at birth she was pronounced dead, but her mother convinced everyone her little girl wasn’t dead. It wasn’t until they took her mother to the hospital morgue to prove her little girl was dead that they found her alive and breathing.

Throughout her life, Nancy proved she could do much more than was expected of her. She came to Tucumcari to be near her sister after the death of her parents. Instead of living with her sister, she once again proved her determination by moving into a tiny house all by herself. Although she had some help learning to manage a household and assistance shopping, she learned quickly.

The first time I met Nancy was when she walked into my Sunday School class. At the time I was teaching senior adult ladies and despite the age difference, Nancy was quickly accepted into the class. Nancy was quiet in class as though she was a sponge soaking in every moment.

However she wasn’t quiet when she heard music. Her face would break out into a huge smile and she would clap to the music. One of her favorite songs was “I’ll Fly Away”. Every time it was sung she would flap her arms like wings.

Nancy wasn’t content with just attending church and she joined the hospital auxiliary and the extension club. She loved greeting people at the hospital (always with a smile) and did her best to help them or in the least, encourage them.

As she increased in confidence, she left our class and went to a special Sunday School class. Although we were sad to see her go, we knew how special her teacher was and would help her to continue to grow in faith and in life.

Nancy was known by her special phrases when other words didn’t seem to fit. She could often be heard saying, “Oh, my!” or “Oh, my word!” At her funeral it was said her first words spoken in heaven were “Oh, my!” as she beheld its grandeur.

Even if you didn’t know Nancy, there are things about her we could all learn that would benefit our lives. One of the main things I learned was to continue to grow and not limit ourselves. Instead of saying we can’t do something, we need to give it a try. No one thought Nancy could live by herself, but she proved everyone wrong.

The next thing is to find joy in the simple things of life. Nancy always had a smile on her face and would giggle at things we might think were simple or unimportant. She loved life and it showed! Often her infectious joy would lift my spirits if I was having a difficult day.

Finally, God taught us all that He isn’t through with us until our work here on earth is finished. Nancy didn’t die at birth, she lived to the age of 71. She didn’t just live, she thrived and loved life. If she could do that with all the challenges she faced, can’t we do the same.

As the Psalmist pointed out, God doesn’t make mistakes when he creates us.  In Psalm 139:14 we read, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works…” What can we learn from Nancy? The answer lies within yourself.


Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at:


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