Nancy Badertscher would be the first to say that she lived a full life. What she wouldn’t say was how painful that life was. She chose instead to live with a smile on her face and a lilt in her friendly greeting.
Diagnosed at a young age with a rare disease, Nancy wasn’t expected to live much beyond her teens, let alone into her 40s. Once in an interview, she reflected on that time in her life. What I remember is that she and her family didn’t let that stop them from hoping and holding on to a faith that only strengthened as Nancy continued to defie the odds.
Along the way she graduated from high school (1983) and set about a lifetime of volunteering. How many Bluffton children — many now in college and older — remember her days as a classroom volunteer. She’d wheel alongside them, reminding them gently to walk quietly. She read with and to them, shared their triumphs and disappointments.
Not one to sit idle, she also volunteered at the Mennonite Memorial Home, often doing computer data entry and calling Bingo. In 2008, she received the Allen County Jefferson Award for her 20 years of community volunteerism.
I remember asking her about the award — she seemed pleased, but almost embarrassed by the attention. Clearly, the award wasn’t what compelled her to continue to volunteer. I suspect a smile and hug from a second grader meant much more.
When Nancy moved to the Mennonite Memorial Home, she continued to volunteer. Despite the debilitating disease, she exuded energy. Rarely would she be found in her room…instead she’d be zipping down the hall in her wheelchair, stopping briefly to say hello to residents, visitors and staff.
Isn’t it odd how we see someone regularly, knowing full well that she faces pain on a daily basis, but the picture we carry with us is of that sweet smile, the cheerful “hello”. We don’t fully comprehend that for her, every day is another reminder that she has defied the odds and won.
So when the call comes that this kind, generous woman has died in her own quiet way, slipping away quickly, it comes as a shock. There is a hole in this small community and we all feel a loss. We’ll miss Nancy; we’ll grieve alongside her family.
But hopefully we’ll remember her legacy — one of giving in the face of adversity. Of living life fully.