Nature has always given Nancy a sense of peace. As an assistant at the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper, Nancy worked “behind the scenes” alongside talented writers. It wasn’t until her retirement that she discovered her own gift for writing.
Nancy began writing during a very stressful period in her life. Two of the people she held most dear, her beloved husband and sister, were battling serious illnesses. Nancy can pinpoint the moment she was inspired to write – she was sitting in an armchair in her home looking at one of her favorite paintings (nature-themed, of course—a beautiful waterfall) when she felt the sudden urge to reach for a pen and paper. Nancy describes her writing as something like an out-of-body experience, the words came to her almost faster than she could get them down on paper. The short stories poured out of her, many of them nature-themed, reflecting her love for country living, and the splendors of her favorite seasons. Others centered around the adventures of made-up characters (usually animals with alliterative names).
For Nancy, writing became a wonderful escape from the stress of her family members’ declining health, but what kept her going was that her stories brought her sweet sister Linda a bit of joy and comfort. The sisters developed a tradition of a nightly phone call, during which Nancy would share her latest story. They both looked forward to the call each night, always full of laughter and love. Over the years, Nancy wrote over 170 stories in a stack of eight notebooks. Before she died, Linda encouraged Nancy to have her stories published because she knew that her lovely stories could bring others joy. Nancy was flattered by the suggestion, but she didn’t know where to start. Then after Linda’s death, Nancy found that the words stopped coming to her and she stopped writing.
After her husband’s passing, Nancy moved from her home to Sumner Place in Lincoln. The move was a big adjustment, and meant lots of downsizing, but of course she brought along her notebooks. During the loneliest time of the pandemic, Shannon, the dietician at Sumner Place, noticed that Nancy could use some cheering up. Shannon encouraged Nancy to “Dream Big”, and that’s when Nancy was able to verbalize that her dream was to fulfill her sister’s dying wish: to have her writing published. Shannon knew that Dreamweaver would have our work cut out for us with this Dream, but he had faith that we would find a way to help make this Dream a reality!
Katrina from Dreamweaver first met with Nancy in a conference room at Sumner Place. Nancy, a thin woman with gray hair and a twinkle in her eye, was seated at the table, almost completely hidden behind the stack of eight notebooks on the table in front of her. She shared about her magical experience with her gift of writing, explained how it left her as suddenly as it came, and how having her book published was a goal that was set forth by Linda’s encouragement. The eight notebooks were “cleaned up” versions of Nancy’s original work, which she had carefully copied and edited from their looseleaf originals. With a handshake and a promise to keep them safe, Katrina brought the precious notebooks back to Omaha and began to contemplate next steps.
It was clear that Nancy’s Dream was more than a one-person job, so Katrina enlisted the help of three Dream Team Volunteers to help with transcribing Nancy’s work. Together with Katrina, the amazing volunteers spent more than one hundred hours typing up Nancy’s work.
Once the volunteers were done typing the stories, Katrina met with Nancy again to make some important decisions. Like her stories, her idea for the book’s title came easily to Nancy. She chose to call her book, Short Stories for Linda, My Sister, because even though the stories were mostly about nature, bringing Linda joy was what her God-given gift for writing was all about. Nancy gave Katrina a picture of Linda and herself (side by side with their dear husbands, faces lit with beaming and affectionate smiles), and asked that she include it in the finished book. Katrina, who had gotten to know Nancy well through typing up her stories, wasn’t surprised that Nancy chose burgundy for the color of her book’s cover. She knew from Nancy’s numerous “odes to autumn” how much she loves the season for its beautifully colored leaves.
After a careful editing process, Katrina uploaded Nancy’s final book to Blurb.com, an online self-publishing program and ordered copies for Nancy, her friend, her church, Sumner Place, the wonderful volunteers who helped with the project, and the Dreamweaver office. Tears filled Nancy’s eyes when she received a copy of her beautiful 232-page masterpiece. It was then she realized that all along the way, her sister’s Dream to see her work published had always been hers too.
Dreamweaver Foundation would like to thank Sumner Place for always encouraging their residents to Dream Big, and for introducing us to Nancy through the nomination process. We would like to extend a special thanks to Mary Ann, Marie, and Mary—the Dream Team Volunteers who lovingly typed up Nancy’s notebooks. We would also like to thank the Lincoln Public Library, for their consideration of including Nancy’s book, Short Stories for Linda, My Sister, in their Heritage Room collection, which features Nebraska authors.