Saturday, November 5, 2016

Remembering Nancy Phillips

There are all kinds of family. This is a photo of one of my families, my writers group.

It's been meeting for decades I think. I've only been part of it since 2003 or 2004. We meet twice a month in each other's homes. Two of us live/d in Loveland; four, in Fort Collins; one each in Bellvue and Wellington. We bring whatever we've been working on, read it, and get feedback that inevitably helps us make our prose or poetry better. Without this group, my memoir, Tree Lines, and my new book, Family Time, would still be in my head or in a box on a shelf. But they've both been published. 

If that is all our writers group did, it would be enough. But our meetings and between-meetings communications weave us, inextricably, into family.

In the photograph, Gary Raham, Clare Rutherford, Nancy Burns, and Beverly Haley are standing behind the couch. Judie Freeland, Susan Quinlan, Nancy Phillips and I (Mim Neal, holding Herbie the cat) are seated.

Nancy Phillips and I were the Loveland contingent. She used to drive her vintage jeep to my house and I would drive us to wherever we were meeting. Even though our hosts always provide refreshments, Nancy and I would often go out to lunch afterward. That's more than a decade of drive-time and lunch-time conversations.

A few years ago, Nancy was diagnosed with cancer. There were operations and hospital and nursing home stays. But she always came back. She knew (we all knew) that the cancer would win. She carried on, never sinking into either despair or self-pity. Still writing. Our group formed Penstemon Publications and published one of the dozens of completed manuscripts Nancy had created and stowed away. Tardy Justice is a great book, an historical novel set in early Leadville, Colorado. Every detail is carefully crafted. She even read old magazines to determine which colloquialisms were period-appropriate.

Her participation in our group lessened as her illness grew worse. I was out of town when she went into the hospital for the last time.  When I returned, I visited her a few more times. I had made her promise to stick around long enough to hear about my son's wedding. I told the story but I don't know if she heard.

Nancy Phillips died at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2016.

She enriched the lives of all who knew her. 

She is deeply missed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Mim. I'm sorry that Nancy died, but how wonderful that you all published her work. My thoughts for you all. How much a writers' group nurtures us.