celebration in her memory (aunt nellie) – an original oil

celebration in her memory by katrina berg, 30×30 oil on 2″ cradled masonite

{This piece is currently on exhibit at the Swaner EcoCenter in Park City as part of PCPAA’s Birds Show…there is a reception tomorrow evening [Tuesday the 17th] from 6-9 pm…everyone is invited!}

A couple weeks ago we celebrated Nellie’s 100th birthday.  It was a wonderful occasion, and felt much like a wedding reception as we waited in line for our chance to congratulate her, take some photos, share some memories, and give her our love.

When I was 2 months old, my parents left the beehive state to look for work in Southern California.  It was Aunt Nellie that let us stay a couple months until Dad found work and a place for us to live.  Ever since, she has called me “her baby,” and rightfully so.  I was the only baby that lived in her home…and I’m honored to have spent some of that time with her.  She has been a beautiful mother figure in so many of our lives.

There were beautiful Thanksgiving dinners in her Lakewood home.  I remember the openness of her living room, the lovely piano, eating from the raspberry shoots between the walls of her neighbors, places to play hide-n-seek and explore.  Games of Encore, Rails, Roads & Rivers, Sequence, Rummy, and more.  Delicious pot-roast dinners with mashed potatoes, buttered rolls, cotton napkins, more forks than I’d ever seen, glass goblets to drink from, and our very best manners.

And then the pies would come out.

Nellie was famous for her pies.  Chocolate cream, banana cream, apple, coconut cream….we loved them all.

Later, she even taught me some of her secrets to making her apple pie.  Treasured moments…not so much the recipe, but that she loved me so much that she wanted to share with me one of her greatest treasures.

As I grew and there were so many more of my siblings, Nellie began to come to our holiday events.  Even though she is my Grandmother’s aunt, she was always part of our immediate family.  We loved sharing all our greats with our great-grand-aunt Nellie.

In the 90’s she moved to Orem, and bought a house with a basement large enough for we 8 to come and stay.  And we did.  More games, good food, and pies…music and song in the front room around her piano.

And in 95′ I began studying at BYU and would regularly bring my friends over to eat and play games with Nellie.  I introduced her to so many friends that I’m sure she wouldn’t remember them all…for my siblings that attended the Y followed in suit and did the same.

My girlfriends and I would spend General Conference weekend at Nellie’s.  More friends would come over for the sessions and the delicious meal in between…and of course we would play games afterwards.

One weekend we drove together to Mayfield to see my Grandparents.  I can’t remember the occasion…but we took the route through Ephraim and past Manti, so that we could visit the home she grew up in, stopped by the cemetery, and she shared with me some memories of her childhood.  Again, treasured moments.

I missed Nellie when I graduated from the Y and began studying architecture at UNLV.  I would come and visit as often as I could and we’d have some heart-to-heart chats about what I really desired most.

She met the designer at Dezzer’s wedding and knew we would be together forever…long before most of my family.  (They were pretty busy with the marriage at hand).  🙂  A couple years later, he and I moved to the Heber Valley with the 2 month-old builder, close enough to get to spend time each week with Nellie: running errands together to Sally’s Beauty supply, to the market for groceries, Walmart or Shop-Ko for yarn to make receiving blankets for babies that died in the local hospitals.

Nellie always had a project underway:  a puzzle, pie to bake, visit to make, and all sorts of humanitarian goods to create & give.

I’m so grateful to have shared a small part of Nellie’s 100 years and 15 days.  I’m so happy that she has reunited with her beloved Willard and that they can be together forever.  What a legacy of love and courage she has left to so many.  Thank you so much Nellie.  We love you so very much.  I look forward to sharing and creating with you again someday soon.

All my love,

your baby,


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14 thoughts on “celebration in her memory (aunt nellie) – an original oil

  1. Love the painting and I love Aunt Nellie. I can not believe that she turned 100 good for her !!

  2. Katrina, what a beautiful tribute to such a remarkable lady. I too remember the infamous Aunt Nellie! I’m so glad she could share her 100th birthday with so many people that she loved here on earth. Thank you so much for sharing. Love to all your family.

    • Aww, Ondy, we had good times with Nellie didn’t we?! I’m so glad that she shared with so many of us zoobies. 🙂 Any family reunions up at the Girls Camp this year? We should be here! xoxo to all of you too!

  3. Such a sweet tribute, Katrina. I would love to create relationships like these as I get older. I’m so sorry you lost your Aunt Nellie, but it sounds like hers was a life well-lived.

    • thx Kerri, and you’re doing it already. I don’t think Nellie knows how many she’s touched. 🙂 xoxo

  4. Love your painting! This is such a wonderful post and tribute. Very inspiring and touching.

    So glad I found you through the miz kate dot com Artist blog hop!
    I am your newest blog follower. 🙂
    Looking forward to seeing your upcoming posts!

    I welcome you to check out my art blog, too!

    Mary C. Nasser

    • Hi Mary 🙂 Sorry for the delay, your sweet comment had ended up in my spam file which I am terrible about checking! Thanks so much for introducing yourself…your work is incredible. I have always been fascinated with maps and I love what you’re doing with the encaustic. 🙂 Again, great to meet you!

  5. what a truly moving tribute to Nellie, beautiful to share your memories. Love the slide show of your fam, they all look a very happy bunch…and especially LOVE the painting “Celebration in her Memory”.

    • Sally! 🙂 Thanks so much, it was a beautiful and bitter sweet week. Nellie passed on her piano to us…it arrived Friday and we’ve been making music ever since, thinking of her all the while. And thx on the painting. It was particularly enjoyable…looking forward to doing another similarly. 🙂 xoxo

  6. Trina, It was so wonderful to read the tribute to aunt Nellie. She really was a remarkable person. I glad that I was blessed to have met her.

    • Hi beautiful Beck, seriously so glad that I got to share those times with you…what a blessing she was to all of us! xoxo

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