mothers day

Monday, April 9, 2012

Uncle Evan

Evan Dee Nielson
 July 21, 1930 - March 23, 2012

I had the opportunity to fly with Ed to Austin Texas on Monday April 2, 2012 to attend the funeral of my beloved uncle, Evan Nielson.  It was interesting as I was one of the few people attending that knew him as Evan, rather than Niel.  I guess he was given the nickname Niel in the service years ago and it stuck with him.  When I mentioned to one of the people at the viewing that I was Uncle Evan's niece she gave me the weirdest look, like maybe I was at the wrong funeral!

Aunt Dora Nielson
We had originally ordered our plane tickets from Phoenix to Austin (with a layover in SLC!)  because we were down in Arizona when Evan passed away.  When Dora called me and told me the dates were changed due to scheduling the military honors burial at Ft Sam Houston we decided to pack up all of our stuff and drive back to Utah first, so we called Delta to find out how much it would cost us to change our tickets.  Delta was very helpful - they waived the 72 hour limit on frequent flyer tickets and they waived the $100 apiece for changing flights since it was a funeral.  The lady at Delta helped Ed reschedule the flight on the correct date and flew us out of SLC.  When we got to the airport however, we found that she had mistakenly routed us into San Antonio!!  That meant instead of arriving in Austin at 5:30 for a 15 minute drive to the mortuary for the viewing, we landed in San Antonio - an hour and 15 minutes away from the mortuary at 5:30.   So we rushed up the freeway, stopped at a Dairy Queen to get a bite to eat and get online to figure out how to get to the mortuary.  We arrived about 20 minutes before the viewing was over.  It worked out but it did put a crimp in our plans.

Evan's two children, Thomas Chandler Nielson and Shannon Dee Nielson Reid

So after I gave Dora a big hug and met her kids - I walked up to see Evan.  It didn't look much like him - he had lost a lot of weight and also the puffiness that had been prevalent due to the meds he had been on.
Ed and I had been in Austin less than a year ago and got to see and visit with Evan then, right after he had been put in the rehab.

I saw this tall handsome guy walk into the chapel and someone said "that's Tom, there!"  I wouldn't have known him because the only other time I ever met him was at Daniel's wedding a few years ago and he has lost a whole lot of weight since then - I think he must look like his mom Aunt Jean more than the Nielson side.  Tom took me out to the foyer where his wife and kids were and also Shannon and her husband and kids were.
As I say somewhere else in this blog - Shannon looks like a Nielson. :-)   We both have the square jaw and crooked smile - however I felt like a giant towering over her.  But she was warm and welcoming and both Tom and Shannon seemed to happy to see me again.  I felt the love even though we are all practically strangers.



Shannon's family - Ginny's husband and daughter (Kiera?) , Gary (Shannon's husband), daughters Kendra & Ginny, andShannon
Shannon and Gary live in Tulsa OK

Ginny age 30 and Kendra age 28
Ginny and her husband and daughter live in the same neighborhood right now as Kendra in Kansas City although Kendra will be moving shortly

I have to apologize for my forgetfulness re: names.  I met people and gave them hugs and visited with them and got home and couldn't remember their names.  Please comment on this blog or send me an email and tell me the names and I will correct it on the blog spot.  Thanks

Carolyn and Tom

Tom's family - Tyler, Courtney, Tom, Carolyn, Whitney, Daniel

Daniel - age 29

Courtney -age 25

Daniel is married and lives in Provo UT.  He has two darling daughters (his wife and girls couldn't make it to the funeral but as cute as Dan is I am SURE the girls have to be adorable!)  Dan talked at the funeral and did a marvelous job.

Courtney sang "How Great Thou Art"  a song that she asked to sing and later found out that Evan had requested that she sing that very song at his funeral.  It was also a favorite of her Grandmother Ruby Jean Nielson (Evan's first wife and mother of her children).  Courtney has a gorgeous voice and was accompanied by her mother Carolyn. Courtney is attending a local college in Texas this summer but should return to BYU this fall.

Tyler - age 22

Tyler and Whitney are also students at BYU - they are living back at home in Round Rock, Texas which is just north of Austin with their parents this summer.  Thomas and Carolyn have been scouting for jobs in Utah this last few weeks.  Tom is a lawyer in Round Rock and would like to transfer to the Utah Valley Area to be closer to their children.

Whitney - age 21

After the funeral the Relief Society put on a wonderful luncheon for the whole family.  The funeral was at 10 am so that we would have plenty of time to eat and then drive the hour and 20 minutes to the Ft Sam Houston National Cemetery.  The family was informed that the military services were to begin at 2:30 pm with or without us.  They have the cemetery very solidly scheduled  due to the many requests for military honors.  Ed took a video of the whole service, plus I video'd the presenting of the flag as I was standing behind Dora and Ed was out to the side.  Ed has inserted my video into his and it takes about 11 minutes to watch.  I am going to TRY to download it to my blog....we will see what happens.

Flowers to go on Evan's grave
The cemetery would only allow the family to bring three bouquets.  The beautiful spray that we had done and delivered was given to family or friends after the viewing was over - in fact I don't know who got it.  It was done in red white and blue and white carnations and a beautiful blue thistle (I think they were spray painted).  It was moved out of the viewing area before Ed got a chance to take a picture.   I wish I had realized this was what they were going to do with the flowers and I would have ordered a nice plant that someone could have treasured for years.  The metal 'table' in the foreground is where the casket was placed for the burial services.  We sat on nice benches under a gazebo  while the honor guard did their thing.   Besides the flowers, we were able to give Dora $200 in cash to help her with expenses. I had found a beautiful card and written everyone's name on it that donated.  She was very appreciative.  I hope you won't feel badly that I told her we didn't expect individual thank you cards for everything.  I know it meant alot to her that Evan's family 'back home' showed such love and appreciation for them both.

Ft Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas

Ken and Marilyn - son of Dora
I was impressed with Ken.  He is comfortable to be around and yet very proffesional at that same time. He spoke about Evan being a real dad to him for so many years as his real father had died when he was young.

Dora's daughter, Brenda and husband

Both of Dora's children were choice people.  Brenda was so very friendly and we shared our lunch table with them and you could feel the warmth of her personality flow through the conversation.  Her daughter Cassie was a major part of Evan and Dora's life in the late 70's, early 80's....many was the time that Evan would hop in the car to go get Cassie after school.  They also watched Brenda's granddaughter Elizabeth who is now about nine years old.  She was a pretty little thing that loved her Grandpa Niel so very much.  Both girls will miss him very very much.

It was so fun getting to know these new cousins - people I had heard about for a long time but rarely got to meet.  When we were living in Texas in 2001/02 we almost got to meet Tom and his family several times but then something would come up and things would fall through.  I have a great love in my heart for these two already.

This is the center pages of the funeral brochure they passed out.  I love this picture of Evan - it is so true to life.  Everyone talked about the sweet nature of Evan's personality. He hated conflict and would bend over backwards to make sure every one felt comfortable and was happy.  He always had pet names for me...usually Beautiful....he would answer the door and say "Hey Beautiful, come on in".  And then follow that with a big old bear hug.  I often felt that my dad and Evan were very much alike in personality, although Evan was much more outgoing.  My dad is more reserved but still with a warm and happy personality.

I remembered this guy.  I honestly believe I was the only one at the funeral that did - Maybe Shannon and Tom could from way back when they were babies.  This was the favorite uncle that would travel the world in the military and bring home presents to Miss Merrilee and Old Sue.  He was beloved then and still is.

1 comment:

Erica said...

I am trying to help my grandparents get in touch with Doras kids. Your blog popped up when I typed in Neil and Dora. My grandparents spent a lot of time with Dora and Neil. Any help is appreciated youcan email me at thank you in advance!!