The Memoires of Marlene Nance
I had the pleasure of being with Marlene shortly before she passed. She shared with me much of her perspectives on life and love and her heart-felt preparation for her passing. She was so frail, emaciated. Chelsea was there, eyes swollen but still beautiful. Her heart looked full, absorbing everything she could from her mom.
Anyways, Marlene asked me to share her last and first soapbox of wisdom before she passed, “promise me, you’ll tell them Dominic.” I’m not super comfortable relaying it. I wish I had recorded it, so you could hear it in her voice, not mine. Sorry if it sounds preachy, you can shake your fists at the heavens if it makes you uncomfortable. Don’t shoot the messenger, at least not in the face.
(Paraphrased): “Dom, you guys have a good thing going. I was always attracted to the fire service because of the family aspect of it. You guys live together, care for each other, watch out for each other. But something that saddened me was how often the relationship is sacrificed and objectified in order to accomplish the task. I understand the task has to get done, but when you treat someone like a means in order to accomplish the end, you remove the humanity of the moment and it stifles the beauty of relationship.” (pause)
After being at the funeral and hearing the stories, it is clear that Marlene was all about relationships. She intentionally engaged those around her and was genuinely concerned. She went through 3 years of horrific treatments just to establish a relationship with her new grandchildren. Anyways:
“These relationships are all we take with us when we die. None of the other shit matters (yes she said ‘shit,’ I remember that specifically). I just wish you guys would love each other more. Everyone. You never know who will be the next most important person in your life or just for the day. And when you objectify those around you, you kill that shot, that moment of connection. You cannot lose when you love. But it takes work. You have to want to be concerned for each other. And you can’t fake that. It comes through the wonder and possibility that each person you encounter has something that you need and they need from you. Do you know what I mean Dominic?” (“Yes Marlene”) “Be the family I always thought you guys were…and are, in some cases.”
Marlene kissed me and convicted me. She pushed me to engage in all of you, more. I realized how lazy I have become in my relationships: my crew, new hires, senior volunteers, etc. Intentionality and vulnerability is exhausting but fruitful. We do have a rare job that allots for relationships and not just function. I will try harder and I hope you will do the same. Peace
Eternal rest grant unto Marlene, O Lord,
and let Your perpetual light shine upon her.
May the soul of Marlene and all the faithfully departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.