January 26, 2022

Remembering a Saint on All Saints Day

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
― Thomas Campbell

Today is All Saints Day in many religious traditions, a time to remember those who have crossed over to the next life. It’s a time to reflect on and honor loved ones and friends who are no longer here.

I’ve always liked this particular day, recalling my parents, my brother, my Uncle Melrose and others whom I miss very much. This year, there’s a very special person to add to my All Saints Day remembrance.

Her name is Nancy Lamb, and I know for a fact that she got her angel wings long before she died in August. She helped me through some of the toughest times of my life when I was taking care of my aging mother.

A life well-lived

A gerontologist, Nancy was an expert on issues of aging and death and she advocated for caregivers and those facing end of life issues.

She was also a therapist who helped caregivers cope with the stress and difficulties of looking after aging loved ones. Since we were friends (we met at church), she listened to my woes and refused to take payment.

We would meet for coffee and I would confide in her the pain I felt watching my strong as steel mother slip away. I told her about how agonizing it was to finally have to move Mom to a nursing home, something I never wanted to happen.

A wise counselor

She helped me figure out ways to navigate the health care system and work with those who were involved in Mom’s end of life care.

Through it all, she gave practical advice and listened with compassion and understanding.

I didn’t know much about Nancy and her life until I read her obituary. But I wasn’t surprised at all her accomplishments. She was the first volunteer at Hospice Austin and she helped found two other nonprofits that support seniors.

She was a giver

Giving was at the core of Nancy Lamb; that’s just what she did. I could write at length about all she gave to the community, to schools, her church and many other organizations.

The last time I saw her she was in an assisted living facility, facing her own end of life journey. I will always regret that I was unable to see her during her final months because of the pandemic.

But I am grateful that I knew her and could call her my friend. Today, I sing her praises and remember the grand lady she was and still is, even though she has slipped the surly bonds of earth.

Writing spark

Who have you known and lost and wish to remember on this All Saints Day? A family member, a friend, a teacher or mentor? Recall the gifts they gave you and memorialize them in your journal.

“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me. ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”
― Isabel Allende, Eva Luna

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