(This continues the tributes that SALT (Struggling Artists of Literary Talent) Sisters have written about our SALTy sister, Nancy J. Ring, who died on March 13, 2010. This one is from LeAnne Benfield Martin )
When I first met Nancy Ring in person, she came to Atlanta for a retreat at my house with our writers’ group, SALT, in July 2004. We had been online friends for over ten years so it was good to finally, actually, meet her. A counselor by profession and gifting, Nancy had been a good friend with wise and timely advice during the tough time in my life a few years before. Now, she was thrilled that I had met and was falling in love with a godly man who, we hoped, might be the one God had chosen for me. (Of course, she and the other SALTies wanted to know all about him before they could give their full approval.)
Nancy brought gifts to the retreat for us: sleek Cross pens engraved with “SALT Sisters”; Bath & Body Works smell-goodies; and a small stuffed bear from her own collection for my little girl. Her generous heart was one thing that made her so special.
A good writer, Nancy had several articles published. One, entitled “Because Mom Said I Could,” appeared in Tapestry magazine last October. It was a wonderful tribute to her mother’s tireless and faithful support. Nancy also wrote thoughtful, reflective posts for her blog. Her writing invited readers to think about the deeper things of life. She posted lots of quotations, something she and I both loved, and we occasionally sent especially good ones to each other. She was also my accountability partner, and for a time, we emailed weekly reports of the writing we had done and hoped to do.
Like me, Nancy adored beauty. All winter in Chicago, she dealt with bitter cold and snow and long, dark days. She looked forward to spring and the first hint of lilacs blooming. When she emailed SALT to say that she had seen and smelled her first lilac blossom of the season, I could hear the joy and relief in her words.
Inside her cozy home, she created beautiful art books of intricate folds and gorgeous papers, with a well-chosen word here, a little detail there. When she finished, she sometimes gave those beauties of heart and hand to friends who she knew would appreciate them.
Nancy at LeAnne's house at the first SALT retreat
A few months after her diagnosis, SALT sister Wendy and I went to see her in Chicago. We stayed in a hotel downtown so we could do the town like tourists. Nancy told us that her chemo, which she took every night after dinner, made her queasy, but she had discovered that a small piece or two of dark chocolate would settle her stomach. I celebrated that discovery with a few pieces myself and thanked God that her quality of life seemed intact despite the cancer.
One day, Nancy and I went to Chicago’s famous art museum. We meandered through many of the galleries, lingering with the Impressionists. We chose our favorite paintings and discussed why we liked them so much. At lunch in the noisy, crowded cafe, we talked about art and beauty and writing and SALT. It was a short visit to Chicago, but one I'm so glad I made.
Nancy and LeAnne at a glacier in Alaska and her ever-present humor
When she became so sick last December, she wasn’t able to keep in touch with SALT by email or even talk on the phone much. I missed her. I missed her love for beauty and creativity. I missed her emails about the crazy antics of her gorgeous kitty Katerina. I wished we could sit around the table with our other SALTy sisters and share our stories, our writing, our lives. And of course our chocolate. She was never far from my thoughts and prayers. Even though I couldn’t be with her during the last few months of her short life, I know that our Lord and Savior was with her, comforting her and reminding her how very much she was loved.
And now that she is gone, how very much she will be missed. We find comfort in the hope we have in Jesus because we know that we will see her again someday. See you soon, dear friend!
(Nancy Talks About Her Art on her blog )
LeAnne Benfield Martin is a freelance writer and speaker, wife and mom. She loves beauty, art, books, bookstores, writing, her family, her friends, her dogs, chocolate, and more. Whenever she has a piece of chocolate, she will think of Nancy and her SALTy sisters. Whenever she thinks of Nancy, she will think of Jesus, too, and will look forward to seeing them both someday.