Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Memory of Nancy Schwartz, SHS class of '78

My high school classmate, Nancy Schwartz, has departed this world after forever leaving her imprint.  Her legacy is her ability to make the world laugh even in times of trouble, just as she did during her three year battle with brain cancer.

Some of my high school classmates, like Miguel Casa from my Spanish class, got an opportunity to have more experiences with Nancy beyond high school graduation.  Their children went through the school system together all the way through high school.  Others visited with Nancy during her brave fight with an enemy she was powerless to defeat.

I know this foe very well.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after Helen and I announced our wedding engagement.  Myrna departed just before we celebrated our first Christmas as husband and wife.

Nancy had many interests and tennis was one of them.  Her tennis team was one of the best in Phoenix and they will be long remembered as one of the best ever to represent Sunnyslope High School.  My tennis playing cousin often practiced with Nancy.

I didn't get to see Nancy after we graduated.  It has only been recently that I emerged from my cave to reunite with some of these treasured friends.  I will remember all the times Nancy made me laugh.  The greatest lesson Nancy taught us is by the way she handled her final exam.  Her A+ was earned by the manner in which she confronted certain death.  I can hear laughter in her voice as she tells us one last time, "pretend you are being tickled even when the pain is overwhelming... and don't forget to flash a smile.  None of us can cheat death, however, we can choose how we will fight it."

Nancy, you have left this world better than you found it.  May your family be consoled and may your memory live on in all who were fortunate enough to know you.  Classmate Jeff Grant recalled our road trip to Disneyland celebrating high school graduation... "After we had been on the road for a few minutes, Nancy grabbed the driver's microphone and welcomed everybody to the 'Pleasure Palace bus'...everybody cracked up and burst out laughing."

Now you are on the bus one last time, headed for the happiest place OFF earth.  You will pave the way for those you leave behind.  We are reminded our time here is short and we still have studying to do, musical instruments to play, and a bucket list to cross off.  Nancy, you have graduated the school of life.  You earned your Phd at such an early age of just 51 years.  Keep an eye on us from your Heavenly view and if any of us get out of line, grab that microphone and shout out loud for us to carry on, no matter what challenges we face.  God bless you, my friend.

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