RIP, Aunt Nancy – CoronaLife 453

Last week we lost my Aunt Nancy. While her final passing was drawn out, her initial decline was quick and unexpected. After years of her health at a certain status quo, the slide caught us all off guard.

My Aunt Nancy was a fixture in my life. I have many memories of my family gathering at her house in Springfield. It had a tree in the backyard that was perfect for kids, with low-hanging umbrella branches and a very climbable trunk. I could scale it and stick my head out of the canopy and feel oh-so-tall. Her house was a ranch, and to a small child felt sprawling, with mysterious rooms around each corner.

Her house may have been mysterious, but it was always full of love and welcome. Family meant the world to my aunt. She positively glowed when we were all gathered in. When Aunt Nancy attained the rank of family matriarch after her mother and grandmother had passed, nothing pleased her more than having us all congregate at her house down the shore and eat and talk for hours.

Like most people, my aunt’s life was not always easy, and she kept regrets and disappointments locked in her heart. But her heart did not harden with them. Aunt Nancy was a generous soul, always ready to help the family. She was supportive of my genealogy efforts, and occasionally slipped me something to help defray the costs of my research. She treated my daughter kindly, too, asking her about herself, hanging up the pictures she drew for her, and giving her a pink bunny that my daughter took to bed with her the night we heard my aunt had died.

In a world where kindness and generosity are dwindling, where families are drifting apart in the hustle and bustle of life, my aunt stood firm in holding together her extended family. I do not know who will pick up the mantle, to wear with the same pride and love she did.

The mysterious house is now sold, the huge tree proven to be a dwarf variety, and my aunt has passed on. But her warm generosity and fierce love of family remain, a part of me always.

Rest in peace, Aunt Nancy. You have earned it.


  1. Clare Bright says

    Nancy Gans Sommer was my first cousin. At 18 months younger than I, she was part of my life for all of hers. Kerry has given a beautiful description of the kind of person she was. Her warmth and generosity encompassed her extended family as well. Her siblings called her “Sis” — and so did the rest of us. My brother and I lost a sister; the other cousins had no sister, so she fulfilled that role for all of us. We all benefited from the caring interest she took in us. For most of my adult life Nancy and I were geographically separated, but whenever I saw her I once again felt embraced. In that way she reminded me of our Grandmother Clara. In fact her kind words often echoed ones Gram would say, e.g. “wonderful to see your sweet face.” Dearest Sis, I will miss you and always remember your sweet face as I keep you lovingly in my heart.

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