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Some Ancient Ink and Chocolate Cake: Farewell to Bolling Nalle

May 21, 2022

Another Way for week of May 13, 2022

Some Ancient Ink and Chocolate Cake

Two Sundays after Easter we went to a very small burial and memorial service for a 99-year-old man from our church. He wanted to make it to 100, but that was not to be.

Three women (sounds Biblical, yes?) came from a distance to help bury their beloved friend’s ashes. None of them were blood kin of the man we were remembering and honoring. He had an unusual name, Bolling Nalle. One of these women brought—not ointment as in the days of Jesus’ burial, but chocolate cake: Bolling’s favorite treat.

Bolling and his wife Daisy had no children, no living relatives at this point except his wife’s cousin who lived too far to attend. Bolling and Daisy were founding members of our church in 1963.

Bolling married Daisy later in life, so they never had children, but he enjoyed sharing his beloved horse (who was kept in a large fenced backyard) with young friends from church and the neighborhood. The Nalles also enjoyed traveling the world including all seven continents. They were not young when they visited Antarctica and I remember being a bit blown away by photos at church from that exotic part of the world. Bolling, after serving in the Navy in World War II, worked for a company that tested dairy products. Daisy was a pro at writing and following by-laws for organizations, and served 31 years as deputy clerk for the U.S. Federal Court (Western District of Virginia).  

Altogether 13 of us gathered, including our pastor, who led us in a short service of committal and sharing our stories about this almost-centenarian who had touched our lives in one way or another. Bolling would have been happy with those who showed up. We were 12 women and one man, my husband. So many of Bolling’s other male friends at church were already deceased, or unable to get around, or dealing with memory issues.

After Bolling’s wife died and he could no longer come to church, my husband Stuart and I went to share communion with Bolling every couple months. The men enjoyed teasing each other about their beards, their bellies, their old times at church. Then Bolling and we would get down to the other purpose of our visit: informally but reverently participating in a short Lord’s Supper service of scripture, prayer, bread and grape juice. It was a special time.

The last time we visited was late on a Sunday afternoon in January, and the residents at his very lovely and caring nursing facility had already begun wheeling out of their rooms to gather for supper around a beautiful long wooden dining table. The aide on duty gave Bolling a hug and offered drinks for both us and Bolling. He wanted hot chocolate.

Years earlier when Bolling and Daisy were moving out of their spacious, perfectly kept home in town—they opened their doors to church friends and neighbors to stop by, look over the things they were not able to move with them to their apartment at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community—things we could maybe use or remember them by.

The inkwell and old fashioned ink pens.

My special gifts were an antique bottle of Sheaffer’s Script Blue ink, a glass inkwell, and three fountain pens that I’ll probably never use but love admiring them. Bolling and Daisy knew I was a writer and I think that’s why they set aside those items for me. My husband got several well-organized containers of shop gadgets and supplies such as hose spigots—that he’s actually used.

Everyone needs at least a small memorial service or gathering recognizing the quirks and hard work and love they shared. Everyone needs a community of folks to remember them, honor them. Topped off with homemade chocolate cake!

What are any unusual treats, dishes, or desserts–that a loved one has loved–that you ate or shared at a funeral, memorial, or celebration of life service?

Other stories or memories or rituals? Share here!

Or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. You’ve penned a lovely tribute to this fellow. His name alone would work well in a fantasy novel, I should think. Thanks for all this and for picturing the mementos you picked out. I too have a large (empty) bottle of Sheaffer’s Scrip fountain ink, which usually hold a large yellow chrysanthemum. You are right: Everyone needs to be remember with a celebration of life (however small) and a piece of chocolate cake.

    I hope this write-up is made available to church members. Beautiful remembrance, Melodie!

  2. I like you pointing out how his name would work in a fantasy novel. I think he would like that too.

    Most of our church members have now seen this post on our church Facebook page. Thanks for the love!

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