Corkies. My first memory of cousin Nancy involves Corky shoes. I was hanging out at Nana Shirley and Papa Jerry’s house and I was in their pool. A bunch of people walked in, and I have absolutely no memory of anything about that day except for how cool my older cousin Nancy was, and how much I loved her shoes. It was the height of the 70s and Nancy was rocking it. She was always fashionable in those days and she had those strappy sandals with the large cork heels – corkies. And boy did I think she was cool, and did I covet those Corky shoes.
Through the years, we were blessed with many occasions to get together as a large, loud family whether we were meeting at Nana and Papa’s house, visiting with Aunt Jean and Uncle Dave or going on vacation with the Smith Family HO! And Nancy was always organizing and coordinating and having a blast with the rest of us playing poker and laughing. Always laughing.
I remember when she ran the theater program at the local community center and I got to play Romeo’s mother in her production of Romeo and Juliet. It was fun to be part of the magic she created when she was in the theater world and to see her love for this creative form of expression. Well, and I always felt cool because MY cousin was the one putting on these plays.
As Nancy and Peter married and moved to that beautiful house in the hills of LA, we would go there to enjoy their jaccuzi, their breathtaking location and their adorable little people, Josh and Dani. And when they moved North, we went a few times as a family to visit.
In the summer of 2004, before we moved to Israel, we came to LA for a family visit. And anytime we were coming, Nancy always made sure to be there. When I said goodbye to her on that trip, as she was already battling with cancer, she said to me, “Have a great life. I love you very much.”
She didn’t think she would see us again with everything she had going on. But that was 18 years ago. It’s absolutely incredible to think about how long cousin Nancy lived with cancer, fought through cancer, and continued to live her life despite it all. And we all got to benefit from those extra two decades.
During this time, she got to know each of my children as they grew. We got to hug her and love her, read an advanced copy of her book and offer suggestions, write back and forth, Zoom during those terrible COVID days, and laugh. My kids got to drive around Gary’s neighborhood in Nancy’s convertible. Did they ever get a kick out of that! Each time we would land in LA they would say – do we get to drive in Nancy’s convertible this time too? And she would meet us at Jeff’s Kosher Sausage or at our hotel; at Gary’s or anywhere we were going. Just for that hug and those smiles.
We all loved cousin Nancy so much. I feel honored that my children, raised so far from LA, knew Nancy as well as they did. And that anytime they see a convertible they say, “Hey, that’s like cousin Nancy’s car!” If I were unfortunate enough to ever see a pair of Corky shoes, I would have the same reaction.
But even without convertibles and corkies, we will always have a special place in our hearts for Fancy Nancy and for all of the love, support and friendship we felt from her through the years.