Happy Easter Monday! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and a meaningful Holy Day.
It was my honor to become friends with Nancy Hamon, who died in 2011. Nancy was a relentless philanthropist who donated quite a bit of art that future generations will be able to enjoy. Like so many who knew her, I got to know Nancy in my role as a fundraiser. Frankly, I was never very successful with her in that regard, but I was happy to call her my friend.
Nancy loved to startle or shock people … or maybe she just loved shocking the preacher. She loved to tell me that she wasn’t religious, and then she howled one day when I replied, “I know. I can tell.” She told everyone that she taught me to drink martinis. I’m not sure if that was designed to humanize me or sanctify her. (I never had the heart to tell her that I knew how to drink martinis long before we celebrated her 80th birthday in Las Vegas.)
Nancy’s favorite thing to do, though, was to stir her martini with her finger … her artificial finger, which she would remove to do the stirring. She was especially delighted if she had a new victim (like me in Las Vegas) who did not know and could not tell that the third finger of her left hand was a prosthetic held in place by a large gold band with a hefty diamond.
I wasn’t the only preacher who tried to get Nancy to give money to their church. When Alan Jones was the dean of Grace Cathedral he asked Nancy to help with the restoration of the stained glass and the repair of the floors. Nancy took great delight in telling the good reverend that she didn’t do windows or floors anymore, but she did give them the money.
We had a serious conversation one day over lunch in her kitchen, which looked down from 20-plus stories on our little townhouse a block away. She confided in me that, although she wasn’t religious, Easter was her favorite holiday. I tried to get her to tell me why, but she shrugged off the question.
Well, I always think of Nancy on Easter. I miss her, but she is so alive in me and in all the good she did while she lived, that I think I understand now why Easter was Nancy’s favorite. It is mine, too.
Rev. Michael Piazza