Friday, October 31, 2008


Yes, she looks a bit like Queen Elizabeth, even a British woman we met in Florence thought so. We were sitting in the cathedral of the Duomo, catching our breath, and a British woman joined us in conversation. When Valery asked, the woman agreed that Velda did resemble the queen. Like the Queen, Velda was always well turned out. I never saw her without jewelry coordinated to her outfit. We will miss this Queen of our hearts.

Velda had a generous heart. I received several sweet thoughtful gifts from her over the years. She was famous for her blanched, toasted almonds. She often sent Christmas cookies, and who can forget her chocolate mint zucchini bread?

She became more present in my life after brother Ken moved to the Seattle area. She and Ronda were the only family Ken had in the area and they became very important to him as his life closed in on him during his terminal illness.
Especially memorable was a dinner at Ken’s new (to him) condo in Issaquah.

On another occasion, we had Thanksgiving dinner at Ken’s first Washington condo in Des Moines.

Here we all are at Connie and Dieter’s wedding. Valery, my mother (Ruthanne, not pictured), Velda, Ernabeth, and I drove down together from Sacramento for the occasion. In addition to the wedding, the trip was memorable for an earthquake on the following morning.

The most memorable time I spent with Velda was our trip to Florence, Venice and Lake Lugano, Switzerland when Janet’s daughter Chrissy married Lorenzo in Florence.

As always, Velda looked regal – here with mother of the bride, cousin Janet. Notice that Velda is dressed in “royal” purple.

We shared rooms and meals for two weeks and had a fabulous time. In addition to the wedding, Velda’s 89th birthday was cause for celebration. Velda realized the dream of a life time when we went for a gondola ride in Venice.

La Dolce Vida

Valery and Velda rode a funicula and then climbed a zillion steps to reach this mountain top above Lake Lugano while I languished in the hotel, nursing a smashed toe. Velda displayed amazing stamina and abundant energy throughout the trip.

On Top of the World

Don’t they look cute, dressed all in pink and blue?

Velda chats up the Florentine lace vendor

Velda was great at striking up conversations with people. We learned she didn’t even need to speak their language to engage them. She managed with gestures and song to explain to the restaurateurs at our favorite Florentine restaurant that it was her 89th birthday and the whole place sang to her and celebrated. She told me she would come to see me for my 70th birthday. It’s next April. I’ll be thinking of her then and missing her.

The Nichols descendants include several “sister pairs. ” In addition to Velda and Ernabeth, I can think of Christine and Lynette, Connie and Janet, and Valery and me. It’s hard to think of one without conjuring up the other. I’m sure the loss of her sister is unbearable for Ernabeth. My heart goes out to her.

In addition to her family, I know she leaves a big hole in the community where she has given countless hours of service. I also know that Cory and his family were a big part of Velda’s life. And George who so generously co-hosted her 90th birthday and the memorial gathering, and gave unstintingly of his decorating advice! These are people Velda spoke of and I know she carried them close to her heart. I’m sure there are many others.

I can’t imagine Ronda's loss. From these pictures, it is evident what a devoted daughter she was and how much time she spent with her mother. I hope she gets some comfort from knowing what a special lady her mother was and how much she will be missed by so many.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to miss her. She was such a sweet woman.
    I loved to hear her tell stories about the family.
    The embroidered tea towels that she made for me as as a wedding gift are among my most treasured possessions.