An Open Letter to Robert

I had several reasons for putting this web site together.  But mainly, I want you to see yourself through my eyes.  You have always missed how extraordinary you are.  Through the decades you have created poetry, essays, stories, music, carvings, and photographs and you have received little support. You have mistakenly assessed the value of your work and of yourself based on this lack of response.  I know there were many times I offered you little or no support.  Sometimes it was because of serious problems in our lives or in our marriage.  Other times, it was the result of a forty-two-year career and the excessive hours demanded by the job. Many more of those hours should have been directed toward you and your art.

I hope this web site is tangible evidence to you of how much I value you and your beautiful creations.  I have had the joy of being included in the world of music and writing you create. 

I’ve tried to pick out a few memorable events from the many we have had and a few pictures from the thousands we have taken.  Here are some that came to mind. 

Robert Nichols


In August 1964 you went on a fishing trip to Minnesota with my mom, dad, and me.  I knew by the end of our time together on this trip, there was much more than a buddy-like friendship between us. 


Robert Nichols





August 1964:  Headwaters of the Mississippi,

Lake Itasca, Minnesota, on a trip with Mom and Dad.




We have made many serious decisions over our years together, some good; some bad. Here are a few choices we've made that are “lighter” in nature.

November 20, 1965: First apartment:  Our first really bad decision was getting “Mr. Nichols,” the spider monkey.

Robert Nichols

Robert Nichols

December 24, 1966:   Another bad decision was you drinking beer and then trying to lift a heavy set of barbells close to our newly decorated Christmas tree.  Watching you fall over backwards into the tree with the barbells over your head was a sight I’ll never forget. 

Robert Nichols

Summer 1968: Yet another bad decision was when we underestimated how slick the dirt road off of Grand Mesa could be after a rainstorm. The blanket-shrouded silhouette in the center is me.

Robert Nichols



March 1970:  Getting stuck in our little sedan on four-wheel drive Pucker Pass Road, Dead Horse Point, Utah, with me seven-months pregnant--was the result of another bad choice.

One last example . . . In 1968 Robert decided to attempt to make friends with our seemingly docile neighbor, Pete, the Donkey, who lived in the field adjoining our house. After the encounter, we always referred to this neighbor as "Pete, the Biter."

Other bad decisions are too numerous to list, but many are fun to think about.

Robert Nichols

We did, though, make many great decisions.  Here are a few.



Robert Nichols

December 17,1965: Our first really good decision was getting married.

June 7, 1970:  Our second really good decision was having Kristin. 


Robert Nichols

Robert Nichols


Robert Nichols




September 7, 1991. Our third really good decision was getting married again.








Traveling extensively when we were young was another good choice.  We didn’t have much money, but we had energy and arthritis hadn’t yet attacked my hips.   Traveling around Europe with our Frommer’s Europe on Five Dollars a Day book was fantastic.  There are so many funny memories. One was you patting your rear end and making pig-oinking sounds trying to tell the Dutch butcher you wanted to buy ham.   Another was trying to use your high school French to get a room in Luxembourg. The non-English speaking hotel manager misunderstood and produced a prostitute for you to take to our room. Another was traveling for a month on a railroad pass with only what we could carry in one gym bag each. This resulted in washing our underwear in the sink on the train and holding it out the train window to dry.  (Around that time there was talk about Ugly Americans.  What was all the fuss?) And then there was the time we were walking in a rainstorm in Zurich when we discovered that my one-piece travel dress became transparent when it got wet.

It was good that we continued to travel as we got older.  Kristin was with us on all our big trips, making travel even better.  I’m so glad you were willing to push, pull and hoist an arthritic wife and a daughter with short legs through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and up and down the steep steps of Machu Pichu in Peru.

Two weeks after we were married, I asked you to build me a bookcase. Over the forty-plus years we've been together since, this would be a request I would repeat many times. You decided to accept this with a smile, pick up a saw, and start building. The new shelves become more beautiful each year.


Robert Nichols

I’m proud of you for so many reasons including:

~ Going to Washington DC and participating in the "March on Washington" in August 1963, and climbing a tree so you could see better when Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech.

~ Having the strength and ability to survive the Rocky Mountain elements for five years in a tipi.  The article Dean Krakel wrote about you in the March 16, 1992, Rocky Mountain News describes you as “. . . a gentle bear of a man with a windblown white beard.” In the article, the tipi is described as “ . . . 18 feet in diameter, large enough for a cot, couch, table, chair, cooler and portable toilet.  A wood-burning barrel stove provides heat.  A small solar panel powers the computer and radio.”  I don’t know of anyone else, except possibly Gordon, who could have survived five mountain winters like this.

~ Persevering with your art all these decades.

~ Possessing the compassion and ability to help memorialize three beautiful people.  When our feisty friend, 89-year-old Becky died, Russ kept some of her ashes so the three of us could have a ceremony together. You walked ahead up the mountain road carrying your large spirit drum to the huge pine tree Becky had loved.  As Russ and I got closer to the tree, we could hear your deep, somber drumming which continued as Russ circled the tree spreading her ashes and I followed him throwing flowers from my garden on her ashes.  Some years later you delivered a fine tribute at the funeral of Monique, sister of our very good friend Dorothy Snozek.  Finally, as I wrote about earlier, the artful ceremony for your father was perfect.  I was so proud of you during all three of these moving events.

You have said all through this project that you didn’t want me to thank you.  You said it was unnecessary.  So, I narrowed it down to mentioning it this one time. Thank you for giving me decades of laughter, art, music, play, and love.  Because of you, Kristin and I have had so much happiness.  You have made my life extraordinary.  I have lived an exciting life with some turmoil and much fun.  It’s been a fine adventure.  I’m hoping for more.

As for our decades-long game of tag:  Don’t forget, I hope that at the very end, I will tag you and my last words on earth will be, “You’re IT!” and off I will go with a smile of satisfaction.

Robert Nichols        Robert Nichols