Nikki was born in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Memorial Hospital on April 11,1942. When she was brought home from the hospital it was to our grandparent’s farm just outside Charlotte. Less than six months later we moved to a house on Westminster Place in Charlotte. The next year the family moved to Brandon Circle, nearby. There were several additional moves, as servicemen returned from World War II and needed housing. Nikki and I played together happily when she was a toddler. I was six years older, and was a good and loving sister until I turned twelve and she was six. It was not a good year for me, and looking back, I can see that I began displacing some of my anger and frustration onto her. She had a very bad year, also. That year she caught Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and also contracted Polio during the epidemic which swept Charlotte. It is my understanding that she came closer to dying from the spotted fever than the polio. She also had a terrible time with tonsillitis around this time. We were living in an unhealthy duplex during this time.
The next year we moved to Austin Drive, on the outskirts of Charlotte, where Nikki began school at Newell, a school with twelve grades, which I also attended. She made a best friend, Sabre, while living on Austin Drive.
The family settled in Miami, Florida, in January, 1952, following our father’s loss of his job in Charlotte after passing out at work. In Miami, Nikki made another good friend, Dorcas, with whom Nikki maintained contact to the very end. My relationship with Nikki improved in Miami. When our father came home drinking, Nikki and I would go out walking in the night together, past lit windows, people watering their lawns, and other comfortable neighborhood activities. The balmy Miami air felt good. Sometime we would end up at an ice cream shop and have a treat. We would return home and creep into bed after our father passed out.
Nikki was in her teens and attending Miami Edison High School when our parents divorced and she fell in love with an affable fellow student from Cuba. and quit school despite everyone’s advice. A couple of years later Andy, their son, was born, and they followed me and my family to Atlanta, where an amicable divorce ensued after a couple of years. Having earned her high school credit, attending Greorgia State as a student in addition to working there, Nikki met and married Bob, a biolgy major., who adopted Andy following a courtship and marriage, The birth of blonde-headed Demetria completed the family.
About 1974 there was some unpleasantness between Andy and Bob, and they never reconciled. Dinners were not happy occasions for anyone, since Andy and Bob did not speak, for years. This was one of the sorrows of Nikki’s life. In 1983, years later when she knew she was dying of stomach cancer, Nikki tried to write a letter to Andy, but she tore up every attempt. She did not know what to say, and she knew that Andy would be put out of the house when she died.
Despite the stresses of her life, Nikki bubbled over with good humor. She laughed easily, and was fun to be aroound. Nikki joined the staff of Turner. I recall hearing what fun she and Bob had one night when she got snowed in at work and they ended up spending the night in Ted Turner’s office suite, which was a luxurious expedrience for them.
At the time of her final illness, Nikki was about to be promoted to a job with more responsibility at Turner’s.. One of her duties in her work there had been with the call-in advertising department. In that capacity she sometimes met famous people, one of whom was Boxcar Willie. When she heard I liked his music she was able to obtain one of his tapes for me.
I have not spoken of Nikki’s attractiveness. From the day I first saw her I was in awe of her blue eyes, blonde hair and her peachy complexion. She was a joy to be around. Nikki was a generous person and loved clothes. Whenever I visited Atlanta (from Ohio) I came away with several outfits she insisted I take. Apparently severe trouble with a hiatal hernia preceded Nikki’s stomach cancer by at least a year. During her last year she reached out for support. She called me long distance in Ohio for lengthy chats, and even called and talked to Adolfo. Sometimes she was just being thoughtful. I was in a staffing at the mental health center one September 15th when I was interrupted with a phone call. It was Nikki, who began singing Happy Birthday to You, completing the entire song before signing off.