Meeting Fancy Nancy on the other side of fear•
Posted on April 27 2019
Jordana was an avid reader, and she was a big fan of Fancy Nancy, an early readers book series written by Jane O'Connor (O’Connor). Later when Jordana got a bit older, she discovered O’Connor started a series of Fancy Nancy novels and she was first to the bookstore to get them too! In fact, I was often told by fellow mom’s and friends how much Jordana resembled the main character, Fancy Nancy herself.
For those that don’t know Fancy Nancy the character, she had curly hair a button nose and a “joie de vivre” that Jordana most definitely shared. If we ate dinner on the patio, Jordana would tell me that “Fancy Nancy would call it eating “al fresco”, that’s fancy for outside”. No outfit was too glittery or too colourful, she managed to make any pattern work well together, and a tutu or a feathery pink boa was the perfect addition to her pyjamas any day!
Fancy will remain a beautiful part of our family’s life, and when Jordi passed I would sometimes seek refuge in her room. One day I stumbled upon this cut out photo she made of Fancy. She had hung it on her bedroom memory board and it was from an old school book report. I could barely breathe when I saw it because I could remember how she asked me to help cut out the gold glitter backdrop she glued the Fancy image too.
Fancy was such a part of Jordana that it made me feel so much gratitude for O’Connor and her brilliant imagination. I thought one day I should let O’Connor know what Fancy means to us and how she came to life through our daughter; how our family still makes reference to Fancy when talking about Jordi.
The decision to write to O’Connor and thank her made me anxious, I feared it, I suppressed it and of course you know what happens when you do that...it just keeps resurfacing. I think I feared being rejected, like who am I to write her? Where do I even write to? Will O’Connor even read it? Would she even care?
On a Saturday afternoon this year, grief found me and everytime it does I try to counteract it with a feeling of gratitude. Thankful for being Jordi’s mom and really try to find the rainbows. I decided that I would finally write O’Connor and sent my letter to the book’s publishing company, HarperCollins in New York. I attached a very Fancy photo of Jordana from her Communion, which I also posted below. I thanked O’Connor for sharing Fancy with us; a priceless gift for our family. I told her that I needed to introduce Jordana to “Fancy Nancy” because I think they were one in the same. Laurence and I went to the post office together, a few prayers and a pack of Jordi’s beloved peanut M&M's later we sealed it and sent it to Harper Collins in New York.
Weeks later I received a small card in the mail with USA stamps all over it and no return address. I dropped everything in my hands to open that letter. The little voice inside of me knew it was from Jane O’Connor and in a not so-very- fancy way, I collapsed in my kitchen chair.
O’Connor wrote me. All that I feared about being rejected was false. As Jordana taught me “fear is a liar” and there she was reminding me yet again.
O’Connor told me how Jordana touched her heart, that she would not forget Jordana and thanked me for sharing my daughter with her. I’m thanking her for Fancy and she in turn is thanking me for Jordana. My heart was full. She went further to tell me how the writing of something so fantastic and joyful to so many could often “be a very lonely process”. That also struck me to my core, her loneliness didn't stop her from creating this fabulous character and sharing her with the world. Fancy didn't know fear.
Her letter went on to sadly tell me that Fancy Nancy the series is done, O’Connor wrote the last book the year that Jordana gained her wings. Coincidence or Fancy intervention, I don’t know. Perhaps Fancy and Jordana’s journey on earth had ended because one couldn't carry on without the other :). Perhaps together, Jordana is using Fancy to help her on her quest of bringing all of us a little more courage, a little more faith and a little..... "je ne sais quoi". As Jordi would say that’s fancy for “I do not know what!”
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