Our mother, Nancy, a fierce Momma Bear, perfectionist, pool shark, bowler and a sassy, fun-loving friend left this life on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
Nancy was a fierce protector of her seven children. She not only made sure we were squeaky clean, well-dressed and had crooked bangs for every elementary school picture; she would whip up a family meal out of nothing. It was always funny when she would curse us in Spanish as she pretended to scold us for stealing fresh sopapillas as she was making them. Our mom was vivacious and feisty and loved by all our friends. She had a big heart and often took in stray friends and foster children to add to her already large family.
As we look back on her life, we were blessed to learn many valuable lessons she lived by and bestowed to us during her 78 years. Among them: Family is everything, the Power of Forgiveness, the Love of God, and Touch is Essential. Also, importantly, a “matamoscas” (fly swatter) can be used for anything, especially swatting at anyone who was in her way. The wise kid learned not to misbehave in church or you will get pinched, “Owe!!!”
Lori, the eldest daughter, reflects on her fondest memory and one that is very near and dear to her heart: The memory of my mother coming to care for me after I had my babies. This was a very special rite of passage into motherhood that I shared with my mom. She would massage my body and my belly with oils and herbs like her mother had done for her. She also massaged my babies and filled them with Alucema (lavender) tea to flush out the mucus. She made me wonderful, healthy meals and loved and coddled my babies. She loved to give them baths. Thank You Mom, I love you”
Myra, second daughter: My fondest memories of mom are that she was always there for my sporting events . She would always brag about being the ‘Team Mom’ – especially for my volleyball team. She was a force of nature and was never afraid to say what was on her mind (sometimes to the dismay of my father)! She had overwhelming love for both her grandchildren and great grandchildren. They brought enormous joy to her life. There was never a dull moment with her. We always had a great time with her and her sisters playing pool and drinking tequila! In one of my most embarrassing moments, my mom’s fierce momma bear came out. She had taken me to get my first bikini and the clerk thought I was a boy. I was devastated, but mom straightened out the clerk and made sure I was ok. I Loved my mom ”
Brenna, daughter number three: “She was always there when I needed her. She cussed at me a lot with all those Spanish words... that I still don’t understand; and she never called me by the right name. She was there to cheer me on at every sporting event. She was a fanatic about our teeth and made sure that we had squeaky clean hair, so much that she would scrub our scalps until they hurt. A great memory was the day I had to have dental surgery. I still wanted to make 6th period PE so I could defend my tennis table championship…she made sure that I made it in time and kept my title. In addition, her unwavering support helping me raise my child while I finished college was instrumental in me becoming a successful adult. And yes, I forgive you mom for my crooked bangs in all my school pictures and for making us clean the house from top to bottom before a Mantanza, which completely made no sense.”
Christopher, the youngest son: “I remember going into the store where my mom worked with my father and niece Nichole for ice-cream after visiting the dump or cleaning the yard. Nichole was only about 5 years old at the time. She would be all dirty with dirt on her face and in mix-matched clothing, and my father and I wearing pants with holes and dirty from our activities. My mother would be so upset with us for being in public like a bunch of hoodlums and bringing Nichole out in such a mess. The “perfectionist” in my mother would drive her nuts. My dad and I would just laugh as she told us how much we were embarrassing her. My mother was very supportive and always there at my activities, to include participating in playing quarters with me and my friends before heading out to her pool tournaments.”
Anne Marie, fourth daughter: “I have so many beautiful memories of my mother that it has been difficult to sort them out. She was such a giving, kind, loving, strong, fun, forgiving and beautiful mother. She loved and protected all her children like no other. She extended that love beyond family. My mother had the most beautiful and comforting smile. My dad used to love using his video camera, but no matter what he was filming you could bet that the camera landed on her at some point. He used to point it on her and call out, “Nacia!” And she would look at him and smile. She always told us that touch was so important. She loved receiving hugs. Every time I saw her I would give her a tight hug and she would tell me how good that felt. It was so healing to her. She loved her music. We would get in the car and turn it to 89.1 and sing along. She would reminisce and tell me stories about all the good times she shared throughout her life. She was my hero, my love and my life! I love you mom and I’ll miss you so much! Thank you so much for showing me how to love and, most of all, to forgive. You were loved by so many people. They would always tell me how much they loved you, my mother, my guardian Angel! I can see you dancing with that beautiful smile now. ”
Cristal the youngest daughter: One of my favorite memories is her teaching me how to play blackjack in Old Vegas (Downtown). We always laughed and just had so much fun. She also gave a cute card dealer my cell number the next day. A second memory is Eskimo kisses !! She taught me the power of touch, about making a true and genuine connection. She also taught me the power of prayer. I want to thank you Mom for all the support, encouragement and the countless prayers throughout my life and especially while I was deployed. I was one lucky girl to know you were there with loving arms, hugs and kisses on the pier every-time I returned home from deployment, that meant the world to me, I love you mom, you are “My Sunshine.”
James, grandson: My best memories with my grandma “gramma” were spent in the kitchen. My grandma had a passion for cooking, a craft by which I believe she showed her love for family and friends. The kitchen was a magical place where she taught many people how to cook and care for others. The kitchen was also a place where healing, dancing and great memories were made. My grandmother was a great cook but never wrote any recipes on paper with actual measurements because, as she put it, “I just add a pinch of this, and a pinch of that.” Your legacy lives on, gramma, through the life skills and lessons you have passed to your family. If you know any of the Armijo family you know the apple does not fall far from the tree in their ability to cook, care for others, throw a great party and live the example of how family come first. Nancy taught us all that. I love you, gramma. You will always be a great example of how sweet and spice are a match made in heaven.” And, “Isa (5 YOS) would like you to take your phone with you so that she can call you or face-time you.”
Nichole, granddaughter: “As a child, my grandma was a pillar of support, unconditional love, and security. I knew no matter what, my grandma was always there for me. I slept with my grandma almost every night. She always snuggled me so tight. My grandma had the best hugs. From a child to an adult, I never wanted her to let me go. My grandma always said that touch was the most important and powerful thing we have. She said that touch was healing and lifts our spirits. Every morning when we woke up she would sing the silliest songs to me. Some she made up, some were nursery rhymes, a mixture of English and Spanish, and then the one that always sticks in my head “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck”. As she would sing to me she would do her morning stretch routine. This hysterical display of swinging her arms in circular motions every which way still makes my day. I remember sitting on the bed giggling as she spoke in funny voices and made goofy faces. No matter what my grandma was doing or where she was going I was always right by her side. I don’t remember her ever telling me I couldn’t be with her or go with her. She would be cooking and I would be picking at food and eating the dough to her tortillas or sopapillas. My grandma made the most amazing food. I wish I had spent less time eating it and more time learning how to cook it. Every meal was special and everything she gave me was sprinkled with love. We were always talking and singing. If we went to visit her friends we would get ice cream at the Cream Queen. She called me the “Cream Queen baby”. If my uncle would pick on me she would chase him with the broom or swat him with a pillow. When I was pregnant with my first child I was scared to death to have her without my grandma near. My grandma did not hesitate to drop everything in her life to be by my side. When my child arrived I realized I had nothing to fear. My mother and my grandmother had already instilled everything in me that I would need to care for my child and later all my children. A grandmother is better than any material gift a child could receive. I had the absolute best grandmother in the world. I am so very thankful for being someone she treasured.”
Kenni Marie, granddaughter: Grandma taught me that through love and family that anything is possible to achieve. When things get hard and your family needs you, you come and band together through hard times and you can conquer anything. Family is sacred and powerful. She had so much love from so many people that she touched throughout her life. Her legacy will live on through every one of us. In her passing she is still teaching lessons to all of us and showing all of us how powerful love can be.”
Case, grandson: “In honor of my grandmother Nancy: It is not often you encounter someone as strong and courageous as you were. Reflecting on your life illuminates the beauty this world has to offer. Within the many chapters and roles that you had in your life, you proved yourself to be the most loving grandmother anyone could ask for. You were the foundation that this family was built on, and through the good and the bad, you provided all of us with the guidance to face the adversity this world has to offer. It is hard to imagine a life without you, but in the end, your death shall be celebrated and honored. Upon this transition into the afterlife, we all hope you find peace in being reunited with the family members we have lost throughout the years. And to find peace in no longer suffering. You will live on through us, and the memories we shared will always we cherished. And the now the battle begins, who will succeed you as the best cook in the family?”
Andres, grandson: “The things that I remember the most about Grandma is that she taught me to be real strong and she was always there for me no matter the situation. I’m always going to remember going to her house in Winslow and her always having dinner made by the time we came back from the creek with Grandpa. She was always in her garden showing me her tomatoes and how big they got. She used to get real mad at me whenever I would go and pick her tomatoes and I would throw them around like if they were a ball to Dixie. She told me so many stories growing up. She was such a strong woman and she will always live in my heart forever; I love you Grandma.”
Nancy is reunited with her husband and father of her seven children, favorite dance partner, and church-going guitar-playing charmer – Luz Ernesto Armijo; and her eldest son Ernest. Her spirit is carried on by her six surviving children, Lori, Myra, Brenna, Christopher, Anne and Cristal. 13 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, six surviving siblings, and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life.
Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, May 8, 2021, 10:00 a.m., at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, 101-A N 10th St, Belen, NM 87002, with the Graveside Service following at Our Lady of Belen Memorial Gardens Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. The Celebration of Life will take place at 2:00 p.m. at the family home.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Nancy Elaine Armstrong, please visit our floral store.