These are my folks, Vi and Earl Gillians. This photo was taken many years ago (about 25) when they visited me in Cherry Valley for Christmas. That is the fireplace in my living room.
Earl was actually my step-father, but he was more of a Dad to me than my birth father. He and my Mom met where they worked in Riverside, CA, and they were married in 1964.
Vi and Earl moved to Paso Robles in the late 70's and lived there for more than 25 years. During the years they lived there, they saw a huge growth in population and the number of local wineries.
They both worked for the Paso Robles school district, Vi in the payroll accounting department and Earl as the head of maintenance at the PR high school. After they retired, Vi kept getting called back to the payroll department to help out, well into her 70's.
My sister JoAnne and I would always head to Paso for the Mid-State Fair in July-August. Our folks loved to have their "little girls" there. We ate way too much and talked and talked (drank some good wines too).
I have always loved Paso except in the summer when it gets to 100 degrees plus. My Mom, in particular, hated the heat. That is one reason they got a little vacation place in Pollack Pines, CA, where they could go to escape the heat. They loved it there.
Vi had the sharpest mind until the day she died at age 89. She attributed that to the fact that she did at least one crossword puzzle a day. She remembered lots of things that my sister and I could not - she was totally amazing.
But her body did not keep up with her mind at the end - she had open heart surgery at age 89 (just six weeks shy of her 90th birthday) and died after about a 10-day stay in the hospital on August 5, 2005.
Earl was pretty lost without Vi - she was the love of his life and the center of his world. He was diagnosed with lung cancer (a life-long smoker) and lived exactly one year longer. He died on August 5, 2006. We think he planned it that way because he kept asking his caregivers what the date was. I think it was a lovely romantic thing to happen, although Earl would pooh-pooh it if he were here.
So, today I am celebrating the lives of my folks, and I will drink a toast to them and to their amazing love.