My friend Lola (Don's mother) passed away last night. We used to go to Rampart casino to try our luck and we'd go for lunch buffet. Two for one!
When I left, she took me to Steiner's a 'Nevada' bar. By then, I wasn't winning anything.
I always spent my Thanksgivings and Christmases at either Don's or Lola's. Homemade and family fun. She made me feel as if I was part of her family.
I met Lola because I worked with her husband Chuck at Raytheon. Chuck had cancer and we had lunch together two days before he died. He was only 58.
At the time, the Test Site (was always) threatening layoffs and Chuck urged Lola to take the first retirement package, because he claimed it was usually the most generous. (Lola worked at another company at Nellis). She resisted, but gave in. She started to get into retirement and was getting her 'honey-do' list ready when he died just 3 weeks after retiring.
Before he died (about 3 weeks before) he told me he regretted having Lola retire, because he was afraid of being laid off and at his age, he knew he'd never get a comparable paying job (aint it the truth). He told me he was more valuable to Lola dead than alive (life insurance).
I told Chuck not to worry that I would look out for his family. A few months later, I was back here on a contract job, with an empty house back there and Copa waiting for me. Lola called and said Don was getting a divorce, moving back to Vegas to be near her and loves dogs. The rest is history. Lola always gave christmas presents to Copa.
Chuck and Lola spent time in Los Alamos, NM and when I had a job interview for LLNL at the Mirage, they sped me there so I wouldn't be late. Chuck offered to take me to Los Alamos to show me around town, but that job never happened.
When Chuck died, I had a 'premonition' that something was wrong.
Last night, I had an urge to call Lola and was going to do so tonight, but Don called instead.
I remember when the three of us went to the Raytheon Christmas Party at the Hacienda. We went because the door prize was two tickets to anywhere in the country. If I had won, I would have flown back to Boston, if Chuck would have won, he would have flown to North Dakota where Don was living at the time. None of us were interested in the speeches, so we snuck out to play Keno, come back for the meal and the raffle and went out to a few bars to play.
Lola was born in Nebraska and was cooking in truck stop diners at an early age. She was an extroadinary cook and my favorite was her Italian spaghetti sauce with meat. I always asked her for the recipe but she said she never wrote it down. She used hamburger, Italian sausage, garlic, onions and god knows what else. It was my favorite! When she made it for me, I'd freeze a portion of it and savor it for as long as I could.
Lola loved to play Bingo, travel, spending time with her family, collected Fabrege eggs and merlot wine.
Lola was a good friend who made Las Vegas a real 'home' for me. I'll miss her.
Rest in Peace