Ode to Nancy Ruth Parry (1929 – 2018)

 

This is a hard story to share, but it is true, full of grace and it ends in peace. It helped me to understand how grace really works, it might help you?

Nancy was his fourth wife, the best for him, the worst to us; perhaps. She could be simply wonderful, often full of love and care and kindness. Except when it mattered most to us- at times of stress or uncertainty, times of fear of the unknown. It is then the damage is done.

This is a familiar story to some. If you wish when you get the plot skim through the details and skip to the point that the “sun breaks through the clouds” and the light shines into the postscripts. It is the last five paragraphs and beyond.

Our mother was my father’s first wife, the second we never knew but for two brief comments years later. One “it was a rebound,” two “it was an expensive divorce.”

The third was an inexpensive divorce.  But that divorce took time.  That was his plan. The first and second being so expensive.   The third wife was not however mean like Nancy.

Charlene, the third wife he met in a grocery store. She was petite and very beautiful and a had a boat he really liked, and she needed him. Nancy snagged him for life with her golden earrings she tucked into his shirt pocket on their first date, it assured her of a second date.  He laughed so at her little trick.  She had seven children at home and was looking for a rich man at the Mainliner club, United Airlines managements watering hole.  He talked of her satin sheets, she was a platinum blond then.  I was seven or eight. They were engaged on valentine’s day. Surely it was true love.

During my visits to my dad when he was still with Charlene I was not allowed in the house, while she drank Vodka and watched TV.  I was told to stay outside all day and play.  I waited anxiously for dad to come home from work. When he did come he asked me to go play in the school yard, alone. The one I had visited three times that day already. This so Charlene and he could talk. They where long days. The marriage was brief, the divorce a bit longer.

I did not then think Charlene was mean like Nancy. I do remember them fighting after drinking together late into the night, in the living room. She loudly threatening to come in and slap me. Perhaps Nancy was better to me than Charlene, but Charlene’s’ threats where her own. She did not act on them. Nancy’s rejection was long and sustained and conniving and secret; she worked hard to turn all those close to my fathers heart against us. She worked to turn his heart against us.  She was very good at that game. It was to her power. And she liked power.

We all where hurt deeply, wounded by divorce. My father from his parents’, and our mother, Nancy and her children by her failed marriage with their father, the prize fighter- Ray.

My father – Bill, the United Airlines executive was her ticket out of the tenements of San Francisco and the welfare rolls. We were unwanted complications. We became her “step children”.

Nancy, wrote once on a Christmas card “all our children are wonderful and Bills’ kids are fine too”. Words speak from the depths of the heart. His heart was large and welcoming and good, but wounded by divorce and abuse. Her’s had limits and liked power, mostly to protect those she loved or to get her way.

Later the grandchildren that where “there’s”  learned to tell the grandchildren that where his alone that they were not “real family”.  That was enough for me, this meanness went down through the generations, it was actually taught. God have mercy on their souls.

She, Nancy made absolutely sure, that most everything that was ours went to them. At least as much as was in her power too. She had a lot of power and it was not nice. And I am now being generous.

I really did love her. It was not always easy but it was my choice. I chose to lover her for his sake, and for the sake of my Lord who said “father forgive them for they know not what they do”.  His grace allowed me to truly love her.

And the heavenly father did forgive her, if she asked it of him, and so did I for the sake of grace; amazing grace.

Truth comes to those that wait and trust.

I learned from life with Nancy that the abused become abusers and blame their victims the way their perpetrators did.

I am not sure if it was Nancy’s mother, her father or her prize fighter first husband and father of her children- Ray, that abused her more. Abused her so much that she became mean to us. But it was not my father.  He broke his hand once hitting the wall rather than striking Charlene while he worked through his long divorce with her.

My father was a kind, smart and generous man. A welsh pixie with a gleam in his eye. It was not his desire to choose her children over his own; it was required of him. They got him, and I presume it was decided that we did not deserve him any longer, as far as they were concerned.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”, was his advise. There was not much to be said after that.

But sometimes the truth must be told. The truth sets one free, and we, if we are honest enough to face the truth we might just find grace, amazing grace. Grace is found for ourselves, grace is given to others. The truth will set us free to find grace. Lies, deception and hiding from the truth keeps us bound up in them. Grace in truth sets us free.

She is dead now. Nancy is dead. Once as I was eating breakfast in her kitchen in what they called “Parrydise” she declared to me “I am a white witch”.  Ding dong the witch is dead!

After I heard of her passing, third hand, through facebook, I felt nothing.  Sad that a life so close to mine would pass without so much as a sigh, until now. As I write this, I sigh for her loss.

“I am sorry we missed each other Nancy.  Life is hard, people dysfunctional and difficult, we need grace for one another. I am sorry for the times I lacked grace for you”.

Much of my youth was a desert burned by the blasts of the fire bombs that hit my life; my mother’s abandonment of us, me as a toddler; my parents divorce; two stepmothers and Nancy’s manipulations and scheming.

She kept us out of her way and assured that all my fathers wealth and time where invested  in her family. All that she could manage without exposing her games to much. We did not talk about the truth of Nancy’s abuses, scheming and power plays. We where the problem, and it was better if we stayed away, and kept quite.  So we did. I am not sure if it hurt him or us more. It just hurt for many, many years.

She was a good wife to him and I told her so the night she called me to tell me he had died.  I thanked her for that, being a good wife, this grace given her just after her manipulations to keep me away from him during his last days in intensive care.  She keeping us from him, she then deciding to pull the plug. We were excluded at the end of his life.

 It was on my birthday that he died.  A grace to me? I choose to think so. I feel closer now to him, sure he entered eternal life on the day he gave me life. I know this in my bones, it is God’s amazing grace, and the power of his word!

We were not invited to be at his side, we were a problem for her.  She did not think about us or the impacts on us of her decisions about him. She was in control. She had the power. He told her he did not want a funeral to please or protect her from the stress of dealing with us. It was her game to get her way and she knew it well. And it hurt us deeply, and they did not seem to care, for it benefited them. They had the power, we were outnumbered two to one. We were the problems.

The love of power corrupts, truly it does. It destroys relationships and hurts people, in the end you are alone when you face He who has the real power. And He is truth- absolute truth, yet in complete grace.

Nancy was a good wife to my father. He lived like a king. She cared for him well. I am proud to have the kind of man he was as a father to them as my father.

He was generous and kind and faithful to her children.  He was so kind that he allowed her family to be united at his table. Her family with their prize fighter father, Ray Franusich included in the later years at his table.

He, my father sitting contentedly in his corner chair, glad for a family that loved him. And they did love him. And they loved him well, and I was glad for him, eventually.

Nancy’s whole family, all her kids, united with their dad at my fathers thanksgiving table. We did not feel particularly welcome.  Truth is we really weren’t.

My father was a generous and noble man, my father was a good man.  He married her by choice. “the hardest decision of my life” he told me once.  I am proud of him for that decision, and sticking with it. It was not easy. He rescued them from poverty, setting their lives on a different path.

We paid the price as did he. His grandchildren are paying the price now.  The only things he gave us before his death where pictures and personal items he had before he married Nancy. We received nothing after. They were married over thirty years.

He was a founding executive at United Airlines, In energy management, a Staff Specialist for thirty five years. As a kid I played in the corporate boardroom, peeked in the president’s office and those of the four vice presidents. My father’s desk was one of five or eight others in the executive suite of the San Francisco corporate headquarters and maintenance base.

My father was a man rich in many ways except in courage. He lacked the courage to affirm us or protect us or our interests from her games and her power.  At least as far as I know. Perhaps it could have been worse.

I have come here now however to fulfill a call of my heavenly father for her sake.

She, and her children would not let us, know even where they placed his ashes.  We were kept outside of their sphere, orphaned while yet youth at the death of my mother in a car accident. I don’t think it ever occurred to them that we were alone in the world and really loved him and needed him to be allowed to be our father too.  It was inconvenient for them. They have power and like it as she did.

The abused become abusers and blame their victims as their perpetrators did. I must forgive, again.

He, my father said that to me once. Once when I was invited to some family function and I did not have the grace to go.  “You must forgive” said he.  “I have forgiven, but you do not need to volunteer for more abuse if things have not changed”, said I. They had not changed as far as I could tell. They have not changed yet. But I must forgive for my sake and now for the sake of her eternal soul.

Pride is a nasty, vile thing. Pride keeps one from saying and doing those humiliating things required for relational restoration and reconciliation in families.

She never did. I tried. I was always trying to hard to belong, to participate. I tried to make things right and often not very well, it was always so humiliating. I being so hurt by it, and after building up the courage to call, to try again-  to hear the usual, clear initial response to my hello- a snide and mean spirited rejection “what do you want?”.

Truth, in grace reminds me we were all awkward and hurt and not very good at being with one another because of the hurts. I finally stopped trying. It all started when we were children. She was supposed to be the adult; a mother to us all.  I think that’s why my father married her. She was such a great mother, but not to “step children” unless it was convenient.  It is over now. Thank God it is really finally over.

Holy Scripture says “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:2 KJV.)  Funny the scriptures don’t even consider that “she” might be the offender. Perhaps the devil made her do it. Perhaps it really was HIM and not her.

We were offended, we were harmed. She harmed us when we were little, afraid and vulnerable. She offended us we were older and hurt and needy. She never repented that I know of. She never apologized in a way that I could hear clearly enough through the trouble and pain and later busyness of my own life.  I hoped and looked for it but it never came.

Once I felt her love as big as the sun, filling the church when her own son Ray, had died, and so many came to honor him. She was such a good mother to her children and a great grandmother.  This was just weeks after my father died. But with so many years of rejection, the deep recent hurt at his passing and we being kept away, purposefully. She never called after. Not once. I called a few times over the years, trying, hoping to fix things, wanting to know where my father was put to rest.

The sun breaks through the clouds over Bodega Bay as I write this.  I am prepared to find a millstone. A little one like the scriptures suggest should be tied around the neck of the offender of children, as she was to us.  I will cast it into the sea and with it my anger, loss and pain. I will pray that our heavenly father will forgive Nancy for she know not what she did (well mostly she didn’t). I pray that she might have met amazing grace before her death. And that her offenses will be drowned with the millstone I find, so her soul can be released from their burden too.

I pray that if she did not know amazing grace before her death that she has meet Him after it. That He has welcomed her into His kingdom. I pray all the residue of her pain, and that inflicted on others through her weakness, willfulness and blind greed will be buried at sea. I pray that as Nancy is now powerless to fix all that she broke that she can find true peace.  That all her pain is lost in His sea of forgetfulness, with mine, my families, and her families. So be it amen.

Most importantly I pray that he alone who is her judge will forgive and forget and provide grace, amazing grace when he sees her face to face; that she might rest in peace.

And so God can transform even death through grace into a blessing. All things come to and end. The pain, suffering and loss of this life, all the suffering in this broken dysfunctional world does at last come to an end.

And because of grace, amazing grace we can hope for a renewed life on the other side of death. In the world to come that is founded upon grace. We will then live in love, in the presence of true and perfect love, amazing grace!

Perhaps Nancy and I can celebrate there together the victory of the cross of Christ, and the eternal life provided through that grace poured out at it. Grace amazing  grace how sweet the sound…

samsong 4-14-19 869

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Postscript #1.

The above was written at the Bodega Lodge on 4.14.2019 in the afternoon. It was Palm Sunday.  I then went to Shell beach but could not find a millstone, I looked. I came with string intending to find what looked like a millstone to wrap the string about and sling both into the sea.  But I could not find a stone that looked like a mill like stone with a hole in it for the string and I lost the string somewhere on the beach.  Serendipity I suppose or a sign of God’s grace and mercy too Nancy while she was yet alive, I do not know for sure. I  found another stone, wrapped it as shown above and cast away my pain, anger and loss into the sea of forgetfulness, with my prayers noted above. It is finished.

May God have mercy on her soul. May Nancy find her life renewed eternally in grace, amazing grace and I pray we meet again, in the world to come. Her obituary can be found here. We were not listed as having been included in her life at all, although she had such a major impact on ours.

Nancy

Postscript #2.

I do not share my deep heart processing for myself. It is not an easy thing and has spiritual push back you might not understand.  I share out of obedience to my Lord. I have had two dreams since my father’s passing.  I had a second last night.

The first was two years or so after his death. I called Nancy because she had not contacted us at all about his Will, his ashes or any thing regarding his passing. I felt it was not my place or my responsibility.  I called however eventually to inquire about his ashes.  Telling her he had told me once ” Mark when I die I want you to spread my ashes over the waterfall at Rainbow pool”.  I told this to Nancy, she said “well he told me….and it would be better for the family and easier for…” . I suggested she let me know when they were going to do that please. She never called me back and I do not recall what the location was and nor will anyone tell me since her death.  I do not know if it was done before the call or after or if at all.  But I had a dream soon after.

Dream 1.

In my dream My father was looking at me lovingly, kindly.  I heard Nancy call him, he turned to look at her and there was another face on the back of his head it was loving and kind as well. Being two faced is not particularly honest and creates relational troubles and communication complications that are not readily understood. The truth is better even if it hurts at first.

Dream #2

I dreamed on 4/17/2019 about 4:30 am that I had been invited to visit my father and Nancy for their anniversary.  They had rented a house at Bodega Bay and I went in. They where as I remember them. He sitting on a sofa she in a lounge type chair tilted back. They where talking.  I had not seen her in so many years I was curious about how she had aged, they chatted between themselves. I looked out the window noticing the sea view of Bodega Bay.  I remembering feeling the presence of a grandchild with them. I could not see him but somehow knew it was a young boy in another room with the door closed playing happily. It seemed curious to me that they had a grandchild on their anniversary trip but thought no more about it. I did not know him. The dream ended.

It was later in my day as I was swimming my morning laps that I realized that the grand child must have been our son William Ian Parry.  Ian died before birth. We never told my father or Nancy nor many of my family about this our greatest loss.  I interpret the dream to mean that the Lord of Grace and Truth, the true judge, has heard my prayers for Nancy. However the Rabbis say prayer is not about changing God’s mind, but aliening our hearts with his will. So be it, amen.

Postscript #3

In the final editing  of this story (through holy week 2019) and noting that I went to Bodega Bay after church on Palm Sunday I realized an interpretation of the meaning of the image above.  The rock I cast into the sea represented the hard heart of Nancy, the hard heart of stone scripture  suggests that repentance changes into a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19) The seaweed and it’s roots where the power, pride, greed and vanity that held sway over her hard heart.  The palm frond that bound them together was the mercy, grace and compassion displayed by Christ as he went to the cross to pay the price for her sin and provide for her, should she come to him eternal grace and true life. As I threw the stone into the sea the three elements came apart and the rock sunk to the bottom of Bodega Bay, the rest likely floated to shore. And that I trust is the truth and the power of grace.

 

 

 

 

 


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