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My Mom and Dad - An Anniversary

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.

Comments (18)

Absolutely lovely post. I will drink to them too this evening.

Kathleen Dammann:

Oh I love it, Aunt Nancy! Mark and I were just talking about today being the anniversary... The photo of Grandma and Grandpa is adorable, and your words are so sweet. Thanks for a touching tribute, XXOO Kathleen

A lovely tribute to your folks. They both have such wonderful smiles!


That's a very sweet story, Nancy, and a lovely way to remember them today. I know we have talked about your folk's house in Paso over the years at Slow Bowl, but I never knew their "story" - thank you for sharing.

Nancy, that is such a sweet picture of your mom and dad. You and your sister were truly blessed with two wonderful loving parents.

There's not a week goes by that I don't think about Vi and Earl.
We lost my Mom in May of 2008, she was 90.
At times I feel guilty because I think that I miss Vi more than my own mom. She was a very special person.
Thanks for the wonderful memory.
(I work at Rotta Winery part time...if you get by this way..let me know and I'll be sure to be here.)

Liora Watson:

Nancy that is a beautiful tribute to both your parents, what wonderful people they were. Thank you for sharing a little of them with us!


What a wonderful story about a remarkable couple. This was a great way to remember both of them, and I agree with you that Earl waited for that day to seal their love.

They were so lucky to have each other and both of you as daughters.


Truly a touching post,Nancy. I will toast them tonight also!

What a lovely tribute to your parents and a great way to celebrate their memory. I can tell from your words how special they were.

Lovely post, and a great tribute to your parents. I will drink to lives well lived too.


Amen sister! What a lovely tribute to two wonderful souls. Sounds like they were both well lived and well loved...we should all be so lucky. I love the photo, Vi and Earl look like they were full of joy.



A beautifully written and heartfelt post. Their love for each other shines through as does your love for them!!!! I've never found my true love...hoping it's not too late!! Maybe I'll find him in Italy ;-)


Barb Cabot:

What a lovely love story. How wonderful they found each other and spent their lives with such joy together. It's such a sweet tribute to them Nancy. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Brad'll Do It:

What a sweet remembrance of your parents. I don't remember the exact day my Dad died, but I do know my Mom's. He died three years later. Sunday is the 62nd anniversary of their marriage, and I, too, have been thinking about my parents. Thanks for this, Nancy.


Nancy, that's a lovely photo and what a touching post. A wonderful tribute to your parents.


Beautiful tribute to your parents. Thanks for sharing.

Beautiful tribute to your parents. They must have been so proud of you.

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