From Carolyn Torma, daughter of Evelyn's cousin Sylvia
I don't know what my earliest memory of Aunt Evelyn is. She was simply there. One of the tall, assured women that populated my childhood. Yet there was always something so distinctive about her and her family. They seemed to photograph more elegantly and conduct themselves with great stylishness to my child's eyes.
I do remember the great pride my grandparents and mother took in Evelyn's accomplishments. Of course being Finnish and grandfather John being an immigrant, he boasted of her being certified as a physician both in Finland and America. There were times in my life when I would think, "Oh, that's just too much to expect of myself," and then I'd remember Aunt Evelyn and the courageously high standard she set for herself.
It was really in the last 20 years that I got to know Aunt Evelyn more intimately. My mother and I would stop on our travels between Albuquerque and San Diego to visit Evelyn and Wilford. This experience as an adult reinforced some of the romantic legend of their lives. They were so obviously in love and had found each other at a time in life when one does not always expect joy.
However, it was the first days after my mother was diagnosed with cancer that Aunt Evelyn became for me something very real, very caring, and wonderfully tough-minded. Each night, when I would return from the hospital, Evelyn and my mother's good friend Dr. Winifred Liu would call me. They gave me advice, refused to let me give into despair, and they helped explain what was happening. Winifred and Evelyn talked between themselves, checked up on my mother's doctor and without ever deriding him, stood firmly together in pointing out that his opinion was too limited and maybe inaccurate. It was. But what was wonderful is that neither was overbearing, just supportive and firmly insistent that I take a very active role in learning about the disease and helping my mother manage.
We kept in touch these past five or six years. What I came to value and love about Evelyn was her great honestly and directness. It was always a relief to be able to talk with her about my mother and I admired her direct and unsentimental discussions about her own health. It is not surprising that she handled her own death as she did. Few of us will show the same courage when it comes to our time.
She gave me the gift of her example, her clear-sightedness, and her great courage. I will miss her greatly.