Her name was Nancy. She owned a house in Kerrisdale. 17 years ago I moved into her garden suite. She was a 42 year old semi-retired dentist who worked because she enjoyed it, not because she had to. She began teaching at UBC for the same reason. She was an incredible gardener, creating an oasis that we both enjoyed tremendously in the summers. She had many friends whose laughter would drift in my windows. After I’d been living there a couple years, her partner Andrew moved in. A couple years after that, she gave birth to a baby girl, who they called Gemma. Nancy was 47 at the time. She was kind, really funny, incredibly smart….a joy to be around and share space with. Once, when I was starting a new work venture and was short of dough, she didn’t charge me rent. That’s just the sort of person she was. When Gemma was 2, Nancy decided to take up running, and she ran a marathon in her 50th year. I lived below her for 10 years. I only ever left that home because I was flooded out. Literally.
In January she was diagnosed with cancer. Fucking cancer.
She kept the many people her life had touched updated by writing about her struggles, triumphs, wellness, illness, spirit…her whole journey. It was beautiful to read. Her hope. Her pain. Her positive yet realistic outlook.
Yesterday she kept popping into my head over and over and over. I knew that meant she was very likely making her way out of this life with pure love. Today Andrew emailed that Nancy Johnson nee Scott passed away beautifully and consciously yesterday afternoon. She was a young 59.
So, I’m sitting in my new garden, surrounded by just the kind of beauty she loved, and raising a glass of chenin blanc to this wonderful woman who was a force in my life and the lives of so many others.
Go ahead and love your people today.