Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nancy J. Ring (Tribute by Teena M. Stewart, SALT sister)

In the next couple days I've asked my SALT (Struggling Artists of Literary Talent) Sisters to write a few words about our good friend, Nancy, who died on Saturday, March 13, 2010. (Read yesterday's post to learn more about this remarkable writer.) We already miss her so much on our writers' Yahoogroup. Please welcome our founder, Teena M. Stewart, as my guest today.Teena is also the artist who created Nancy's logo which appears on her blog.

By Teena M. Stewart

When I think of Nancy I visualize a butterfly—a periwinkle blue butterfly, to be specific.  Periwinkle blue was Nancy’s favorite color and the butterfly--it symbolizes what she became.

When she first joined  SALT, our online writer’s group, she was very young,  years younger than the rest of us. She shared a fantasy story that one group member fondly refers to as a Care Bear type of story.  It was innocent and whimsical. Nancy had dreams of being published writer and she worked hard to perfect her craft—taking clues and suggestions from some of her published, older SALT sisters.

The odds were stacked against her, but she’d been fighter all her life. Born with spinal bifida, she endured countless operations.   I met her face-to-face several years ago at Mt. Hermon Writer’s conference.  Young, and fresh-faced, her pale complexion and ruddy cheeks seemed to radiate a girl-next-door freshness.  She was a determined young lady who didn’t let the hilly terrain of the location stand the way of getting to classes, even if it meant using her crutches uphill.

She could take on the best of them. She was a fighter. She had to be.

She fought to advocate for the clients she worked with in social services. She fought to make her way to  the city bus in order to get to work in the frigid, snow-laden  Illinois winters.  She gritted her teeth and determined she would be a published writer while juggling full-time work and many other responsibilities. Before long she had several articles published. She dug in her heels and went for her master’s and we cheered her on, celebrating the triumph with a gift basket of goodies and a bespectacled Teddy Bear.  For years she dreamed of having a place of her own, and she went without in order to set aside enough money to make a down payment.  Before you knew it she had  conquered that hill too and moved into her long-dreamed of condo.

When she learned she had cancer, she clenched her teeth, rolled up her sleeves, and prepared for the fight of her life.  This was a fight, however, sheer willpower could not win.  It seemed at long last she had been defeated…But a closer look reveals it is not what it appears to be. Just as the caterpillar spins her cocoon until it surrounds her and she lies dormant inside, to all appearances dead,  Nancy too had to die.  And just as the caterpillar emerges after fighting a battle to be free of its fragile shell…Nancy too has emerged triumphant.  In the time I knew her she was being transformed. Now she emerges, colorful, elegant, and delicate, a remarkable and beautiful creature.

Here’s to you my Periwinkle Butterfly. Fly away home…


Teena Stewart is a published author and artist. She and her husband, Jeff, operate Java Journey a Christian coffee shop ministry (  Her most recent book is Successful Small Groups from Concept to Practice.  For more info about Teena visit You are welcome to email her with questions or comments at smartwords@embarqmail.

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