I started this blog two months ago to track my journey as I became more active in politics after my retirement. Today, I will use this forum for a much more noble purpose. I want to talk about my wife, Nancy Krause Gale. Nancy is near death from her fight with colon cancer. Below is a little about how we met and the wonderful life that we have lived together. I will probably be commenting less here on my blog for some time while I take care of Nancy and recover from her death. So here is my story about When Jerry Met Nancy.
I met Nancy Krause on our first day at Cornell College in the fall of 1970. All the incoming freshmen were divided into groups of eight for a one-night camp. Nancy was in my group. On the second day, the freshmen met their faculty advisors. We learned we had the same advisor when we met at his house. We walked back to campus together and stopped to sit on the rock next to Ink’s Pond where we had our first kiss. On the third day, the freshmen who were on scholarships found out their assigned college jobs. Nancy and I met for the third time in three days in the cafeteria since we were assigned to be waiter and waitress for the evening meal. We were not paired as servers, but we switched with two other people so we could work together. Even a fool like me can see fate, providence, or the hand of God working, so we started dating.
Nancy’s sister Laurie was a junior at the college. One of the things I learned early about Nancy and her sister was that they loved Patrick McGoohan and had watched both Secret Agent and The Prisoner. You have no idea how impressed I was when I heard that fact. I realized I was meeting a whole different class of girls compared to the girls that I knew in high school. Prior to that day, the only people I knew who had watched The Prisoner were my brother and me. I also learned that Nancy and Laurie had both read Sherlock Holmes; I was the only person I knew who had read all the Sherlock Holmes stories and I was proud of it. I was attracted by Nancy’s intelligence, good nature, easy laugh, and big smile. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she looked great in a miniskirt and a tight low-cut top (which made me smile big!).
We dated on and off during first semester and were serious all second semester. I visited her on July 4th during the summer after freshman year and we watched 2001: A Space Odyssey at a drive-in theater at 494 and France. This was also the visit where I impressed Nancy’s mother by calling someone a douchebag as we sat around the breakfast table. I’m confident that her mother had never heard that term used in that way. This might be one of the reasons that she told Nancy that I was nice but not someone that she should get too serious about.
During sophomore year, Nancy and I broke up a couple of times in the first semester but dated all second semester. After breaking up once in the first semester, we met each other in the library and decided we could be “friends with benefits” for one night. We later laughed about how unrealistic that was. I should include here that during the second semester, Nancy got pregnant and made the stressful decision to have an abortion in New York City on her 20th birthday. (This was not something that Nancy wanted to advertise while working as a teacher.) At the time, a couple of people told me that this could either cause us to separate or get closer. We got closer. I again visited Nancy on the Fourth of July weekend and met her grandparents at their home on Lake Minnetonka.
At the end of Junior year in college, Nancy’s family moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas so her Dad could be the General Manager of a barge production plant. It was a great opportunity for him. Nancy went south for the summer with a promise I would visit her on July 4th. This starts a very long story which I will condense here by saying: I did not visit her, she met another guy, she wrote a Dear Jerry letter, I drank a lot, she drove back to Minnesota at the end of the summer, and I woke up on a Sunday morning and told my folks I was driving unannounced to see Nancy at her grandparents’ house. Because of my good sense of direction, luck, or the hand of God guiding me, I found the house (seriously, this is the most miraculous thing to happen to me in my life). I shocked Nancy and even more her Mother (who was not happy). Nancy and I hugged and talked and then I returned home. A few days later we were back to Cornell for our senior year. We smoothed a few things out and then had a great year together.
At the end of college, we did not know what the future held. We didn’t know what jobs we would land or where we might end up. We ended the year uncertain of our relationship. I moved to Iowa City for the summer and Nancy went back to Arkansas with a firm commitment that I would see her on July 4th. A few weeks later Nancy called to tell me that she had gotten a job teaching math in Colo, Iowa. I laid down that night and said to myself, “She’s got a job in Iowa. I’m going to stay in Iowa. That means we’re going to get married…I’d better propose to her.” On a moonlit lake in Hot Springs, AR on July 3rd, 1974, I asked Nancy to marry me. She said and this is an actual quote, “I guess so.” How romantic.
We got married on June 21st, 1975. Forty-one years and eight months later, I’m getting ready to say my last goodbye to my best friend in the world. As I have said to Nancy these last months, we can’t complain. We’ve had forty-two wonderful years, two great kids, three cute grandkids, visits to four foreign countries and 17 national parks, great relatives on both sides, many wonderful friends, a million laughs and a million kisses and hugs. I love Nancy so much and it is so sad to say goodbye.