the influence of the human spirit.
We are all the same in this notion:
The potential for greatness lives within each of us."
- Wilma Rudolph -
You cannot overstate the impact for good in a child's life when adults show interest and confidence in his or her abilities, talents and dreams.
Mr. and Mrs. Klemm were two such people in my life. They lovingly called me "Fancy Nancy" long before the Fancy Nancy books were written and the Fancy Nancy dolls were sold. In fact, this week at Mr. Klemm's funeral, I felt honored and loved when the Klemm children, all grown up, called me "Fancy Nancy" as we hugged and visited.
Being "Fancy" was very important to a little girl growing up as number five in a family of seven children. It was an early acknowledgement of my individuality and value.
Not that my own parents didn't value and love me but the fact that someone else, unrelated, took interest in and loved me was life changing. And as I added a husband and children to my life, they loved them too.
When I was about four or five and was feeling very under appreciated and misunderstood (I was a bit dramatic), I decided to run away from home. I packed my essentials in my doll buggy and promptly ran away to Klemm's house across the street. I don't recall the rest of the day but at some point I returned to my home. I may not have moved in to Klemms that day but I did spend countless hours throughout my childhood underneath their roof. The threads of their family are woven throughout the fabric of my life. I cannot think of my life without thinking of theirs.
My garden contains buttercups in honor of Mrs. Klemm. When I was young, Klemms had buttercups growing by their irrigation head gate. One day Mrs. Klemm showed me that you could find out if you liked butter by holding a buttercup under your chin. If it showed yellow, you liked butter. I learned that and a thousand other things as I watched, listened and loved my time with Mrs. Klemm. And yes, I still like butter.
Mr. Klemm taught me that blow (gopher) snakes are called that because they blow. One day a large blow snake was cornered in Klemm's cellar window well and as Mr. Klemm and I got closer, it began to blow (it sounded like a creepy, heavy breathing phone call from an Alfred Hitchcock movie to my little girl ears). I didn't know what the sound was and I was terrified. Mr. Klemm explained that it was the snake making that sound (not a creepy, serial killer crouched in a tiny cellar window well - I had a great imagination) and reassured me that the snake was as scared as I was and was just trying to protect itself. I felt safe with Mr. Klemm by my side.
I don't think Mr. and Mrs. Klemm set out to "teach" me. Instead, because of their willingness to make time and room in their hearts for a little neighbor girl, they loved me and I knew it. And that love, added to my own family's love, transformed me.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Klemm - thank you from a five year old neighbor girl and a now grown woman - for the tremendous positive influence you have had in my life!
In honor of the cherished memories I have of your family and your home on Grovecreek Drive, I have a curl in my banister, an arch between my living room and dining room, a room dedicated to creating things that make me smile, a Fancy Nancy doll (or two), beautiful decorations created by Mrs. Klemm, buttercups in my garden and memories and lessons for a lifetime.
My hope is that I can make someone else feel fancy like me.
With all of my love and appreciation for making me Fancy!
Love, Fancy Nancy