Remembering Vera May Taylor
She loved, she laughed.
Vera May Taylor, beloved Mother, "Nana", Aunt and friend, passed away on September 15, 2020 at age 81,
due to complications from ovarian cancer, a disease she managed heroically for more than 8 years.
From a modest beginning in Chancellor, South Dakota, her life and her love of travel took her to many
places, both in the US and around the globe. She eventually established 2 base camps, one in Kirkland and
one in Palm Springs. From there, when not traveling, she never tired of Bridge, Golf, Ballroom Dancing,
Casinos (where luck rarely tired of her) and spending time with family and friends. Her sense of humor and
relentless mood for fun rendered everything she attended better.
Vera is survived by her daughters Monica (Marisa), Linda (John) and Shelley (Steve) and her grandchildren
Jacob and Sarah. In lieu of flowers, we encourage donations to the Swedish Medical Center Foundation,
designated for the "Cancer Institute".
Vera's family would like to thank the nursing staff at Swedish Hospital-Issaquah, whose caring, kindness
and skill helped ease Vera's transition from this World into Glory. Until we're all together again Nana, rest
Memories of Vera
(I want to share a quirky and hilarious side of my mom many people have never seen. Something that was personal to me and allowed me to love her in so many ways.)
I haven't lived in Seattle since 1997, so I didn't get to see my mom as much as my sisters. But when I did we truly made the most of it.
We would plan our escapes to Reno two or three times every year because we both loved slot machines and bingo. We indulged in lobster and pasta, pizza and beer and many, many giggles. We were always laughing.
On our first trip to the bingo parlor we expected the basic game and didn't understand all the different styles available. We played one game in which you had to get three bingos on one card. Both of our cards were so covered with neon-colored blobs that we had no idea if we had three bingos or not. We just looked at each other and started cracking up.
The bingo caller always put the number on the board before calling it out. On one occasion mom yelled "BINGO!" after seeing the number light up and stopped the whole game. She was so excited! The worker said "not a good bingo, you have to wait for the number to be called" and mom said "well crap". When the number was announced she yelled bingo again, but this time 4 other people yelled it too. She won ten dollars.
I will miss those trips so much. But mostly I will miss the phone calls and texts all the time, always keeping up with each other and laughing. I can't say I won't hear her voice or her laugh again. I can say I will be with you again in time.
Love you so much, Mama.
When I got the word that my dear Auntie Vera had died, I am certain my heart literally skipped a beat. And then it felt as if it sank to my gut and landed in such a way that took me a moment to catch my breath. I apparently was not fully prepared to hear the words, although I guess no one really is.
My Auntie Vera saw the world pretty clearly. Her notoriously positive attitude was spiced with perfectly timed wit, aimed at herself more than anyone. I never once saw that wicked wit or upbeat attitude waver throughout the 8+ years she battled cancer and all its insidious side effects. During this pandemic we would often lament to one another about the rawness of our hands from washing so much, our elegant dress code of pj’s and sloppy sweats (possibly stained with Dorito dust), our stress acne and ridiculously unkempt hair, our half-naked toenail and fingernail polish, and especially not being able to travel to warm places like Hawaii or Palm Springs but instead being stuck in the cold and dreary Northwest. We prided ourselves in being glamour princesses, you see. We had that in common. But most importantly, our biggest mutual distress during this time was not being able to see our grandchildren regularly. She would remind me how precious time is with grandchildren and how they grow so fast. I know the years and experiences she was able to share with her treasured Jacob and Sarah meant the world to her. It was mutual.
And here is the thing: I did not see Auntie Vera on a regular basis. We would occasionally correspond through email, text, and annual Christmas cards, but when I did see her – once or twice a year – she was simply one of those unique people with whom I could easily pick right back up no matter the time in between. She was and always has been the kind, genuine, funny, gracious, beautiful auntie, with the wonderful, infectious laugh that I had known for my 58 years.
In June when she was stuck “in a rut” in the hospital eating an extremely boring low sodium and low potassium diet, suffering Law & Order reruns ad nauseam, I texted her that I was coming to break her out “Thelma & Louise” style. She asked if she could be Thelma and was willing to pass Brad Pitt along to do so. I gladly acquiesced, especially since Louise was the driver. And we both got guns. She told me to make haste, grab Brad and the car, and come get her. Oh…and to bring her butt-tight jeans because she was totally over the stretchy one-size-fits-all hospital garb.
Perpetually positive. Endlessly witty.
About a week later, I checked back in via text. She responded: “Louise. I’m so grateful to have you in my corner. Struggles can be tough and are for Thelma and Louise, but we are forever. Love you so much.” Those were her last words to me.
I do not know if she was afraid to die. We never had that conversation. But I doubt it. She had a courageous spirit in life, and I am sure, in death. And although I think she still had an enormous love for life in her - she fought so hard - she also endured so much in the last few months. Of course, I never heard her complain, but I am sure she was tired and ready to be herself again.
Laughing her great laugh. In her butt-tight jeans.
That is how I will remember her.
I already miss her so much.
I am so proud to speak with you about my mom and to tell you about her amazing life.
Vera was born a dreamer. She was raised in a loving home with her mother, adopted father and sister. The family would move around the country frequently as her father searched for stable roofing work. They finally settled in Portland, OR and Vera was at last able to flourish. She was elected student body president in high school and voted Most Likely to Succeed. She was accepted to college, but like many women at that time she married my father instead. I am Monica, the oldest of their three daughters, born when Mom was just 21 years old. My sisters are Linda and Shelley.
A sign of the times in 1960, Mom would stop working and stay at home to raise the children. Mom played an active role in our upbringing including President of the PTA, Campfire Leader, and making sure we were always active in sports or other school activities. Tragically, Mom lost both her mother and father suddenly and unexpectedly only a few years apart. She was devastated by the loss. Mom reentered the work force part time as a florist and enjoyed having new challenges to keep her busy. Dad was frequently transferred with work – and eventually relocated from Seattle back to Portland. The decision was a difficult one, as Mom did not want to move back to Portland where the pain of losing her parents was still emotionally raw. My parents would divorce after 25 years of marriage and my Mom would remain in Seattle.
Determination to move forward with single life led her to immerse herself into a new focus on her career. In the years that followed, she would move from job to job seeking new opportunities to learn and advance. Mom really hit her stride working in senior housing. From her start as a secretary, she eventually worked her way up to Vice President of Marketing. Looking to be independently successful, she and her business partner started their own company. After years of planning and hard work, they opened Faerland Terrace in Seattle, a high-end senior housing community. They later sold the property, which is now part of Merrill Gardens. Mom had achieved both financial success and personal accomplishment that fulfilled her high school expectation of Most Likely to Succeed.
Mom was newly retired and on top of the world. She turned her focus to spending time with family and her two grandchildren. To celebrate retirement, she generously took the family to Hawaii and rented a beautiful home for a week. It was a special trip that we would repeat several times in the years to come.
Only a few short years after mom retired, she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. Mom was always great at getting annual check-ups and staying on top of her health, so she was devastated to receive the news. After the shock wore off, she knew she would not allow this disease to steal her unfulfilled dreams. Mom travelled the world to fun and exotic places including favorites: France, Africa, Russia, and New Orleans. She had a great supportive group of friends and spent her time being successfully happy in the moment. Though there were a few times when her travel plans would need to change due to treatments, she wouldn’t let it stop her. Statistics of surviving 5 years were not favorable, but Mom exceeded expectations and survived for 8 1/2. Mom battled this disease as she tackled all other challenges in her life--with a determined spirit and desire to succeed.
I was so fortunate to be raised by such a strong woman.
Mom: My life has a big void without you in it. I can’t wait for the day when I will see you again.
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This slideshow is a tribute to Vera M Taylor
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