This week is a favor from my readers. Today I’m going to tell you about a very good friend, who I now call family, that has become something special to me and to my brood.
You may remember that some time ago I mentioned that my wife’s mother has come to live with us. Her husband had gone on to his reward and she was living alone in Salinas. I might not complain about living alone. I had done that for many years before I was blessed to find my life mate and we were doubly blessed because of our children and because we lived in the friendly town of Gonzales.
However, Nelda, that’s her name, had been with a mate for a good part of her life. Our children had grown up and had places of their own, and to be honest the house seemed pretty empty. Besides, Lorraine loves her mother very much and was traveling up to Salinas a couple of times a week to check in on her and help with her needs as a single mature woman.
I was not crazy about that arrangement and voiced my position to my bride a few times. We have a house that had been pretty busy when the kids were here but had grown empty. Even our wonderful dogs could see that we needed more company, so I told Lorraine to invite her mother to take the rooms our children had so recently evacuated.
I can hear you now. Invite your mother-in-law to come live with you. That’s asking for trouble! For some perhaps, but for us, it has turned out to be quite a blessing. You know there are a lot of folks that claim Switzerland as their home country. They make up a good portion of our farmers and have, in some ways, helped settle this valley with dairies and families.
Nelda was born in Switzerland; she married her life mate, Eric, in 1953. Suddenly her sisters, mother and father decided to come to America and chase the American Dream. She missed her family but was true to her vows and was going to be with Eric whereever he was.
In the letters she received from her family, she found that they were quite smitten with our country and was told of success for hard work. Eric, who was a very hard worker, decided to reunite Nelda with the rest of her family. So, in 1956, Eric and Nelda climbed up the gangplank of the Queen Mary and made the crossing from Europe to our valley from Switzerland. They started in Santa Maria and then came to the South Valley to settle down and raise a family. Lorraine was born and 3.5 years later her brother Paolo was born and the family was complete.
Eric soon started a business, which brought the family to Salinas. Nelda was totally dedicated to her children and became the one parent that was always the volunteer and chaperone. There was 4-H cooking, music classes, ICF, PTA… well, you get the picture. She taught lots of students how to cook Swiss treats and provided a home away from home for members of clubs and societies. She even started working when the kids were in high school.
Nelda and Eric raised their children as complete citizens of America. Lorraine was dedicated to music, theater and various clubs that emphasized leadership, communication and love of country. Her brother was also taught the importance of Patriotism. Nelda and Eric were proud to become American citizens.
Paolo terrified his mother and father by saying, “If I am drafted, I will go to Vietnam.” Eric was petrified until the period had passed for Paolo to go. These lessons were taught by Nelda and Eric to enrich our country. Both children were taught the importance of a college education, and one was provided. Nelda loves her family and she truly represents all that is good about the American Dream.
It is for the reasons above that I write this week’s communication. Nelda is having a milestone birthday. Actually, it will be before the publication of this column. Yet! I hope you will take just a moment to just send her a note telling her “Happy Birthday.” Nothing big or fancy. Just a word to let her know how much she is loved and what she means to our valley: Nelda Pedrazzoli, P.O. Box 487, Gonzales, CA 93926.
Thank you so much.