Her Name Was Nancy

Nancy LeClerc Dayton, July 12, 1946 - August 20, 2009

That middle name is pronounced "Le Clair", and is carried through the female line in the family.

"...when I tell you that I love you it doesn't mean that I know you'll never go only that I wish you didn't have to." --Laurence Craig-Green

(from a poster I found packed away that I bought her a whole bunch of years ago).


Way back in 1978 I got lucky. I met a lady, who turned out to be one incredible person, and who, in spite of not seeming to be anything special or all that sophisticated, turned out to be one incredible woman, who turned my life in directions that I never expected, and who touched many other people's lives in her 63 years.

We had, as all relationships do, our ups and downs, and I will honestly admit that there were times when I acted badly, and she still put up with me and gave herself wholly to me, for as long as she was still capable of giving.

Which describes one of the most significant aspects of her really well -- she was about the most giving person I'd ever met.

Perfect example -- on one of our trips to New York City, a place she loved, there was a derelict laying on a sidewalk in midtown Manhattan, a man who'd chosen his particular path and was dealing with the consequences of his choices. And she wanted to stop what we were doing and do what she could to help this stranger. It took me a while to convince her that this was probably not the best idea...

In early September of 2008 her brother passed away. That Friday my son got married, and when I look at the pictures from that occasion I see on her face the absolute joy she feels for them at both the wedding and the reception, in spite of the fact that the very next day we had to drive all the way to Cape May County, NJ to go attend his services.

She gave of herself most especially to her kids, and to her grandkids, and most recently the one great-grandkid, who was fortunate enough to be a part of the last visit that she was mostly there for. At 2-1/2, we're going to have to work on helping him remember her well, since his transition to verbal thinking from the non-verbal stages of being a toddler are still happening. And without getting into details about why I can say that our whole lives in the past few years have been rearranged because of those kids and grandkids.

Back during the time when I briefly dabbled with CB radio I used to joke that if she would ever get involved in it (she never did) her handle would have to be "Momma Bear", and that does indeed reflect the intensity of how she felt.


She had a typical christian upbringing, I suppose. It's something that we never really discussed much. Neither of us are particularly religious people, especially when it comes to what we both see as some of the hypocrisy one encounters in the religious establishment as it is today. I remember her telling me one time about how she'd gotten pretty upset with some minister who told her that all of her jewish friends were going to hell, for one example. The people who figure that their way is the only way are the ones that bothered us the most.

She was a very spiritual person, though, and saw the world as being filled with magic. And it is out there, if you look for it. Even I, technophile that I am, can see this to be the truth.

She called herself a "white witch", though about the only spells she ever really got into or ever talked about while I knew her were love spells, and I rather vividly remember one particular experience, where a guy wanted to find himself a lady and was having a hard time. A while later on he called and asked her to "turn it off, please!" because of the intensity of what he was experiencing.

She was a firm believer in that wiccan rule that I've heard mention of, where whatever you do to someone comes back on you threefold, and always strove to do good when she could, even if it cost her.

I'll add this: There was no evil in her whatsoever.

The worst that she'd do if the occasion arose when she got really pissed off at somebody (which did happen from time to him, her being half Irish and all) was that she'd get in their face and get loud, and she was very good at that. Then things would (hopefully) cool off and that would be the end of that.


I don't want to even try to give the impression that all was sweetness and light for all of our time together. Like any other couple we had our differences, and our disagreements. And yes, there were things about her that drove me nuts, and vice versa no doubt.

She liked the shore, and the ocean particularly, while I liked to be far from it and would've preferred to live in the mountains someplace. We came to compromise that a place in the mountains with a lake might work. She could swim well, I am a very poor swimmer. She was more tolerant of cold weather, I like it warmer. Her favorite season was fall, perhaps because of the colors, mine is spring, when things go from winter drab to getting all green again. She liked her little cars with 4-cylinder engines, I liked my bigger vehicles with V8s, though both of us moderated our positions on this in recent times, as she found it easier to get in and out of her daughter's van than my car once her mobility started to become impaired and was talking about us getting an SUV, while in my case it was more because of gas prices. She liked to watch TV, and I tended to prefer to read a book. She enjoyed show biz, and the whole thing about it, even those shows that were about showbiz, while I found very little of value in it. (There remains sitting here a set of music CDs that covers several decades of broadway shows that I bought her that she never got around to listening to and now never will.) She did aspire to be an actress at one point. I always believed in using the right tool for the job (a lesson I learned the hard way over the years) while she'd grab whatever was handy and try to make it work, the steak knives in the kitchen drawer with bent tips from attempting to use them on philips-head screws being just one example of this. She tended toward direct and immediate action, while I tended toward a more deliberate approach to things.

She was very much "a people person", and found it easy and natural to interact with people, and make them comfortable, and found it uncomfortable being alone for any period of time, while this was something I've had to work at, was awkward in handling at times, and solitude is something I've enjoyed on occasion.

There were many areas where we were quite different and yet we managed to deal with each other for all of that time, to find strength as a couple in these complementary aspects, and to value each other for who and what we were.

She was a *big* lady, with a heart to match. Though she could also kick some butt when the occasion warranted, and there were times that it did. Heaven help you if you threatened anyone in her family, particularly, especially her kids.

It still amazes me how someone can be so strong in some ways and yet be so vulnerable at the same time. That vulnerability is something that aroused a fierce feeling of needing to protect her in me, and I did what I could. I can still think of instances that make me sad, that did before all this current nonsense went down.

She also did "loud" when she felt that it was called for, and was very good at it, getting people's attention right quick. On one of our last outings, when I was pushing her around in a wheelchair, she took the opportunity to do so when we were waiting to check out in a Wal-Mart store and the person in front of us in line needed a manager to come to the cash register. It worked, and worked well.

Some moments that I found particularly tough to deal with agonizing in her the last few days, was when her mouth would move and form words but no sounds would come out, and I'd have to ask her to try and repeat herself. And in the days before that her voice was just a shadow of what it used to be.


A sign that she had hanging over her desk says: "Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of CHOCOLATE"

Chocolate was, of course, one of her favorite things. One year for christmas I got her a small cookbook that was all chocolate recipes, and she enjoyed the scratch-and-sniff part of it at least, though I don't recall what she might have made from that book.

She also liked unicorns, covered bridges, lighthouses, getting her back scratched, New York City, Sudoku (recently), and she loved the sea, which will be her final resting place.

And how could I forget this? She liked to dance. And was quite good at it. Which made it really unfortunate that I don't dance, not hardly at all, but then, I had no issue with her dancing with other folks, she knew who she was going home with. I suspect that now that the physical hassles are over and done with her spirit is dancing... In Sugar Magnolia the Grateful Dead sing about somebody who "can dance a cajun rhythm" and "jumps like a Willys in four wheel drive" and that fits, as do the other aspects of takin' care of a fella that she was so good at.

She was good with people, while my strenghths involved dealing with "stuff" of one sort or another, whether it was one of our vehicles or later on, electronics and then computers, which I seem to have a knack with and which she insisted were run by "little computer people" that lived inside them. Together we were able to tackle a lot of different things and make them work well, including running a couple of businesses. She never held back from grabbing tools and getting her hands dirty though, if there was a need for it.

People were her highest priority. This was why, when you asked her what she did for a living (when she was still able to work) her immediate answer would be "customer service". Her ideas of what that consisted of and that of the companies that she worked for often differed — her thinking was that the important thing was to make the customer happy, and if that meant spending an hour or two on the phone with them then that's what she did, "productivity" and similar BigCorp nonsense be damned. This got her fired more than once, but this was the principle by which she operated and she wasn't going to compromise them for anybody.

Not even me, during those instances when we worked together, and we'd come into conflict with regard to that at times. Me pointing out that the business needed to have cash flow to survive wasn't as important to her as the customers and giving them a break, sometimes. I lived with that.


She had this knack, no matter how much of a dump we might end up living in at a given time, for making a home out of it, for both of us, and one that we could share with others when those occasions arose. Maybe not to such an extent in recent times as her health and energy levels were less than they used to be, but even still I have no real complaints, particularly when you consider the added burden that my "stuff" contributed to the situation.

This in spite of her telling me real early on that she didn't consider herself much of a housekeeper. I guess that's not a problem once you figure out that she meant that she wasn't as obsessed with that sort of thing as some (stereotypical?) women tended to be back when.

We've spent much of our time nearer the bottom end of that economic ladder that some folks see as being an aspect of our society. Not that we didn't want to be well off, but money and dealing with those issues wasn't ever as much of a priority as other stuff for either of us. Given that, she was amazingly frugal, always collecting coupons and knowing which stores had the best prices on different things and so forth, something that's been a struggle for me lately.

No matter where, whether it was in one apartment or trailer or another, or even that time we spent with our camper, she managed to make it *home* and comfortable. Even though we both liked to occasionally travel, it was always a pleasant experience and a relief to finally come home.

One of the things that she would say during these last hospitalizations was "I want to go home!"... I don't have adequate words to express how sorry I am that I couldn't do that.

A positive outlook:

In the hospital recently, having been advised (more than once) that the radiation didn't help matters, that surgery was not an option, that chemotherapy was not an option, and that there was no cure for what was going on, she still had the best view of things possible. One day when a nurse came in with one of those little plastic cups with pills in it, she took notice that they were many different colors, and said to the nurse, "Why, you've brought me a rainbow!"

The nurse was absolutely floored by the fact that she could have such a positive outlook under the circumstances.

Even toward the end she was still touching people's lives in a positive way whenever she could...

She knew!

She knew that she was going to die, though it came a lot quicker than either of us really expected, we thought at that point that we were looking at months, when the doctors were thinking weeks to months, and yet she decided at that point that we were going to rent an RV, equipped if necessary to deal with a wheelchair, and with oxygen, and then go visit family and friends, and only after that go across the country to see places that she wanted to see. That putting of family and friends first and herself last is so typical of her.

So from that hospital bed she elected to try for rehab, to get herself as strong as she was going to be able to, and she was told by one doctor there that she would get better, up to a point, and then she wouldn't. That didn't work out as well as we'd hoped. One of the last pictures I have of her I took in that rehab facility, and looking at it after the fact I can see from the expression on her face that she knew then, that this wasn't going to work out as she had hoped.

Me, I was just caught up in doing whatever I could that seemed to make sense at the time, getting through the day as best I could, and trying to get to the next day, so I could be there for her and do what I could think of that day too. And now I'm beating myself up wondering if there's anything that could have been done differently that might have affected the outcome at all.


To the extent that she could, she made the world a better and more pleasant place by the sheer force of her personality. That was her way of making it a better place. And it'd a damn poorer place now that she's gone, except for the fact that she's touched as many lives as she has.

Some of the tougher decisions we've made in the past few years, involving family and local government agencies and other such stuff we arrived at a consensus by consideration of one simple aspect of it — doing the right thing. (And that thought comes directly out of when I used to listen to "Doctor Laura" on the radio -- I remember discussing things with her and using that phrase, and once planted it found fertile ground in her.)

The Bad Stuff:

Some years back we were told in the context of routine female-type medical stuff about something that we were assured wasn't likely to be a problem. I have yet to get my hands on those medical records, though I'm working on it.

Around the end of 2008 a problem surfaced and it looked like that was getting out of hand, but we really didn't know at that time how bad it was going to be.

Somewhat later, around the spring of 2009 it became apparent that what we were actually dealing with was actually something else, and later it became even more apparent that things were at the later stages of this. It turned out to be *very* nasty and agressive.

Mobility suffered. Appetite suffered. Her ability to care for herself degraded, home nursing care and all. I tried to deal with it all, to the extent that I could, but when we got to the point where she went into the hospital in July I was getting a little frayed around the edges from the stress of trying to deal with it all. Eventually her breathing suffered, as the secondary tumors were in her lungs, where things got rapidly out of hand. A lot more rapidly than I'd expected, or than she did, and I do believe that it, at least initially, surprised the doctors as well.

Knowing that time was limited she still made the attempt at rehab, so as to be able to do some of what she wanted to do with what time she had left, which involved travel, seeing some family and friends, and going across the country to see what she wanted to see. (Of course people came first!) The rehab did not go well, breathing difficulties worsened, she returned to the hospital, and all sorts of other bad stuff started to happen, and things just went downhill from there, until the end.

Somehow or other the idea that this was gonna get this bad this fast didn't penetrate, or I missed some aspect of it, or something of that sort. How could this have gone so far this fast? How can she be gone that quick? I just don't feel like I understand that, somehow. I'm working on that...


Damn, I miss her! Every day without fail...

Some of this is lifted directly from here because it's so damn accurate...

Grief is the other side of the coin of love.

As love grows between any two people, they become connected, intertwined, part of one another. These connections develop just as surely between parent and child, brother and sister, as they do between husband and wife.

When one person dies, the connection is broken; the one who died has been ripped away from the one who remains. The pain of this tearing we call grief.

Grief is a part of love. At first, after a death, it is the exploding pain of the loved one's absence. Over time, it can be felt as an aching tug, and even later as a melancholy remembering. It is the connection to the person no longer physically before you.

In whatever manifestation it shows, grief is not sickness. Grief is love.

An observation that I can make at this point in time is that it comes in waves of particular intensity.

Lots of things seem to make these happen— thoughts, reading some particular material, thinking about certain things, "stuff". Or music. A little bit ago it was Blood, Sweat and Tears singing I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know.


This ain't the way things were supposed to go!

It was supposed to be more along the lines of this quote from an old poem, "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be..."

Instead, as George Harrison sings in What Is Life, it's:

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side


The Obituary, as it appeared in the paper:

Nancy L. Dayton, 63, of Palmyra died Thursday, August 20, 2009 in the Hershey Medical Center. She was born July 12, 1946 in Atlantic City, New Jersey to the late Ellsworth and Marjorie (Taylor) Yard. Surviving are her husband Roy J. Tellason, son Kevin Dayton, daughter Kelly Dayton, 9 grandchildren, and 1 great grandson.

"Stuff", and Donating:

Now I get to deal with all this "stuff". I do a bit of it, then I have to turn away from that task and do something else for a while, even if it's play some dumb computer game just to turn my mind off of things for a while. Eventually I'll get it all dealt with, I suppose, though the task sure looms large over me at this point in time.

I read somewhere not too long ago about donations that'd really do some good. It seems that there are times when women, kids, and even some men arrive at shelters with nothing more in the way of posessions than the clothes they're wearing. Those folks could probably use a lot of this "stuff", much more so than the suggestions I got for Goodwill or The Salvation Army, which tend to sell things that they get donated, and which also tend to be kinda picky. So I looked around a bit. I wasn't sure what I'd find, since I'd been reading in the paper recently about how a lot of the local shelters were having difficulty because of the state budget nonsense (there isn't one that I know of as I write this), and some of them were having to close. Silly people, depending on government money like that! As it turns out I did find one, this place here. I called them and no, they don't depend on any government funding at all.

So I've packed up and donated a serious portion of her "stuff" to those folks. I think she'd appreciate me getting it to where it's going to do the most good...

And if you thought I meant something else by "Donating", that's fine, I'll be happy to accept some, just as long as it isn't more "stuff" to deal with. It's time to curb those packrat tendencies of mine and deal with those of hers and start to travel lighter than I have been. Feel free to email me if you feel like it.


I saw this written here and just had to copy it in to this page.

Women have strengths that amaze men. They bear hardships and they carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love and joy. They smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up to injustice. They don't take 'no' for an answer when they believe there is a better solution. They go without so their family can have. They go to the doctor with a frightened friend. They love unconditionally. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding. Their hearts break when a friend dies. They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning They bring joy, hope and love. They have compassion and ideals. They give moral support to their family and friends. Women have vital things to say and everything to give, HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE TINY FLAW IN WOMEN,


Web pages, even using my method of manually composing them with a text editor, usually flow pretty darn easy for me. They're not as fancy as a lot of what's out there these days, but they *work*. This page, though, has been the hardest goddamn thing I've ever written. I have been doing it in bits and pieces, a bit gets done and then I have to stop, before I lose it completely. I'm still not done yet. I don't know that I ever will be, completely.

—Roy J. Tellason, Sr.

Some comments by other folks:

Nancy was a good friend; We know no higher praise. She was always ready with a cup of tea, a kind word and a helping hand. We will miss her.

—Tom Padwa and Joanne Devoe, Warren, Rhode Island

(Tom is a long-time friend of mine, and when he'd decided that he really didn't want to live in New York any more but wanted instead to be back in Baltimore off we went to help him move. She carried stuff out to the truck, drove the damn thing all the way from NYC to Baltimore, and helped unload it at the other end. Just because. That's the kind of person she was. --RJT)

Nancy. What a great person. She always welcomed people and was full of good nature and energy. I have a feeling she is sitting next to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates as head of the welcoming committee. She will be missed here on Earth, but I'm glad she didn't have to suffer a long battle with the illness. May she rest in peace.

—Eric Bomberger, Reading, Pennsylvania

Nancy... She always greeted you with a smile, and would help you any way she could. She was extremely loyal to those she cared about. Her positive outlook and "can do" attitude were also some of her good qualities. I'll always appreciate the things she did for me both directly and indirectly, as well the times she tried to help me understand my brother... She was a genuinely "fun" person, and she will be sadly missed. I'll never forget the good memories from over the years. Rest in peace.


Though we have different fathers and different last names, I'm the brother Todd refers to here.

Nancy was a friend I held near and dear to my heart. �Although we didn't see each other as often over the years, I would think about her and smile. �Her humor was one of her many good qualities. �When we did see each other we always had so many things to talk about and we'd laugh and laugh and laugh. �I miss her very much and will always carry her in my heart.

—Carol Anne

Did you know her? Do you want to add your comment? Please email me


Last edited by Roy J. Tellason (rtellason AT gmail DOT com) on 8/16/11 at 10:38am EDT