Velma Grace Wilkinson
August 19, 1934 – July 4, 2020
Eulogy: What can we say about Velma on this day? What do we know for sure? Of course we know that Velma was born on August 19, 1934 in Acequia, Idaho…to Leslie and Edna Wilkinson. She was born in the home of her Grandma and Grandpa Bagnall. She was the youngest of three siblings, with two older brothers, Stan and Dick. She had an independent streak. She left home and attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, obtaining a degree in nursing. After graduation, she moved out to Colorado for her first nursing job. She later worked in California and eventually settled in Seattle. Velma was a nurse her entire working life. She did a variety of nursing jobs; she worked at Virginia Mason, she was a pediatric nurse, a floor nurse. She was in home health care, as a visiting nurse. Nursing was her strong calling. She was proud of her profession and that she was able to care for other people. She carried her nursing profession with her to her death - trying to understand what was going on with her own end-of-life care and what was going on with her body.
She was a natural caregiver. As her mother got older, Velma convinced her to leave Pocatello and move to Seattle to be with her. She cared for her mother for many years until her death. Velma was her own authentic person. She never put on anything - not any airs - for anyone. She was just one-of-a-kind Velma. It has been said that she was strong-willed, even stubborn. She had strong opinions about all manner of things. Some even called her difficult (with a knowing chuckle). But if you talked to any of her hospice nurses, they all said “Velma was such a nice person”. The doctor who had been her doctor for years and years, declared her to be “a wonderful person and a pleasure to have as a patient”. She really enjoyed her. They enjoyed her because she was so real and genuine.
She loved spending time in Idaho with Steve and Angie and was always grateful for their invitations. She did however, have trouble deciding which dog of theirs was her favorite. Velma was welcomed into Scott’s home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday parties and so appreciated being part of the family. Even though Velma’s eyesight was poor, she could always pick Paige out when she went to see her in a musical. She was so proud of all her ‘grandchildren’.
She had made close friends at Mountlake Terrace Plaza where she lived. Velma loved dogs and eventually even cats. She and Carol adopted a stray cat that became an important part of their lives. At Mountlake Terrace Plaza she visited the dog that lived down the hall every day until she could no longer get herself there. And when Reona went over to Velma’s house to take care of her in her declining years, Velma was always a very grateful person. She always expressed her thanks and appreciation, which you just knew to be genuine. She took a real interest in children. Velma, along with Carol, took Reona’s son Matt on a road trip to Idaho when he was 12 or 13. She enjoyed Carol’s grandkids as though they were her own. She took delight in holding her nephew Matt as an infant and even more delight in holding his children Lucy and Elliott years later. Reona almost had to resort to fisticuffs to hold Lucy before Velma. Velma was a woman with a good sense of humor and she was always ready to laugh. She was also immensely loyal. She attached to her long-time friend Carol for decades. And when Carol died about 10 years ago, Velma took it really hard. But she remained interested and grandmotherly to Kathy and Scott’s children. Velma is a woman who will be remembered for the fierce attachments to her people who she honored. She will also be remembered for her proud service to others through her life as a nurse. She herself would have said that she lived a good life. Velma is preceded in death by her brother Dick, and her dear friend Carol. She is survived by her older brother Stan, and her nephews Steve (with Angie) and Matt (with Kate). She leaves behind many other nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and grand-nephews (including Lucy and Elliott). She leaves behind Kathy and Scott (with Susan), Carol’s children, to whom she was very close. And also their children, with whom she had a close grandmotherly relationship: Brandon, Kevin, Paige, Cole and Kate. We will miss this woman, Velma. But we will treasure the memory of her deeply in our hearts, forever.