Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tribute to Nancy J. Ring (By Marti Suddarth, SALT Sister)

One week ago today, Nancy J. Ring took the path Home and went to meet Her Lord and Savior. She was a part of many circles, but she was also a part of our circle, which started off as a writers' critique group, Struggling Artists of Literary Talent (SALT.) We bonded as sisters in so many ways, and now we are heartbroken that we can no longer be a part of her life, nor she a part of ours in this life, except for the wonderful memories we have--but yet, we are eternally connected as we are also sisters in Christ Jesus. We will see her again. One way we are honoring her is by writing how she became a part of us. This is by SALTy sister, Marti Suddarth.

I didn’t know Nancy Ring when she was in high school - we lived in different states and attended school in different decades – but when I think about Nancy, I always think of her senior picture.She’s wearing purple, her favorite color, and looking over her shoulder at the viewer.Even though she’s only seventeen-or-eighteen-years-old, she looks so determined.It’s not just youthful enthusiasm, that naive belief in one’s own invincibility that so many high school seniors feel.There is an inner strength in her eyes, a confidence that comes from knowing Who is in charge, Who is guiding, Who is taking care of her. 

Nancy and I were both members of SALT – Struggling Artists of Literary Talent, a small group of writers who provided support in the form of critiques, information, advice, shoulders, and most importantly, prayer.   In the eleven or so years our group has been together, we’ve gone from fellow writer-wannabees to published authors and close friends.In that time, I’ve repeatedly been amazed by Nancy’s wisdom.I shouldn’t have been.It was apparent in her eyes.How could someone “so young” –ack! Who wants to be described that way? – be so wise? Yet her advice was always spot on.She was the grounded person I wish I was.It’s hard to imagine that she benefited much from my friendship, but I gained so much from hers.“Nancy” means “grace.”She was appropriately named.

This is not to say Nancy was an all business-fuddy-duddy!  (The truly wise know the importance of having fun, too!)She collected teddy bears and played with her cat, Katerina.Nancy loved looking for rainbows, and every spring, she eagerly reported her first lilac sighting.  Nancy loved lilacs.

Katerina, whose antics entertained us all

Toward the end of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled, "Skin of Evil," the crew members attend a memorial service for security chief Tasha Yar, who has died in the line of duty.  After the service, Data, an android who wishes to be more human, questions Captain Picard about the service.  He  asks, “I find my thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking, how empty it will be without her presence. Did I miss the point?"  (Star Trek:  The Next Generation:  "Skin of Evil," original air date: 25 April 1988)Captain Picard responds that Data understood perfectly.

I imagine Nancy (and a several of our mutual friends) laughing right now.I managed to write a Star Trek reference into HER memorial. 

Well, I understand Data’s quandary.I am sad for all the things that Nancy will miss, all the experiences she wanted but didn’t have.But at the same time, when I think of Nancy and imagine that senior picture, I can’t help thinking about how we’ll miss her – the stories she would have written, the joys that she always shared, and her friendship. 

I can’t help thinking about how empty we will be without her.  


Marti Kramer Suddarth is a computer and first grade teacher in southeastern Indiana.She is the author of Ping Pong Words and 30 More Children's Sermons (CSS Publishing,) and author/composer of "Broadcasting Christmas" and "Mini-Musicals for Special Days" (Contemporary Drama Service.)Marti is currently writing readers' theater scripts that coordinate with first grade social studies and science curriculum, and she "secretly" fantasizes about writing a cozy-murder mystery.

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